Viral Video Bonanza: Q2's Big Winners

Nothing's more valuable to a marketer than when consumers are just dying to watch and share their commercial. Having a commercial go viral is rare, and when it happens it's marketing gold.

The good news for advertisers is that audiences chose to watch online ads 600 million times in the second quarter, that's up 15 percent from a year ago, according to a new report from Visible Measures on "choice-based video performance" issued today.

The big winner of the second quarter was T-Mobile—with the most watched campaign of Q2 2011 and the most popular brand, in terms of online video ads. T-Mobile's "Royal Wedding" ad was viewed 26.2 million times, with 3 million views in the first two days alone.

Did consumers realize they were watching a T-Mobile ad? The video isn't about T-Mobile, but the phone company is in the title of the video and comes up at the end with the tagline "One's life is for sharing."

Considering the massive exposure and super low cost for T-Mobile, even if only some viewers registered the brand, it was still a massive hit. Thanks to a number of other popular campaigns, including "Angry Birds" launched in early June, T-Mobile was the most popular brand last quarter with a total of 39.2 million views.

The second most popular campaign was Evian's Live Young, with 15.7 million views, followed by a holdover from the first quarter, Volkswagen's 'The Force,' a huge hit at the Super bowl. The fourth-biggest campaign is a newcomer—Dirt Devil's "You Know When It's the Devil," a parody of "The Exorcist."

The ad feels like a trailer for a horror movie until the very end, and reached 11.9 million viewers, over 70 percent male, with over 50 percent in the key 19-44 year-old demographic. This speaks to the power of this kind of viral video to introduce a brand like Dirt Devil, known for appealing to housewives, to a new potential buyer.

When it comes to overall brand power, surprisingly enough Google , which is hardly known for advertising, came in second, with a total of 24.2 million views. Unlike T-Mobile, its big hits were split up between a range of campaigns, the largest of which was its April Fools campaign for 'GMail Motion.' It also scored on the power of celebrities with "The Web is what you make of It" with Lady Gaga and Dan Savage participating.

At some point ads stopped being an irritation, interrupting your content, and it became the main attraction—something people seek out and share online.

Though the number of views is down from the first quarter, that's can clearly be attributed to the spike from Super Bowl ads—there's no doubt that the amount of voluntary viewing of online ads is consistently growing. That means companies may invest more in creative content that could go viral than traditional TV ad time.

Questions? Comments?