I’m often asked what makes an ad great. For anyone managing a business, they will often tell me a great ad is one that drives sales for the brand.  And while driving sales is usually the business objective, I think many of us would agree as consumers, that a lot of the ads we see are effective but they are not truly great and worth spreading. At times, we discover an ad that helps build the brand, helps drive sales and inspires something deeper and more meaningful in the world in which we live. One of my favorite examples right now is this ad from Coca-Cola.

Clearly, something deeper than just sales must be considered.  How can you get people to truly take notice your brand?  Rally a community around your ideas?  How can you shape a movement that is both commercially successful and adds value to the world?  In the words of TED curator Chris Anderson, how do you create ads so good that people choose to watch and share?

TED Ads Worth Spreading exists to bring clarity to these questions, and award those that transcend typical advertising by developing content with a greater purpose - ads that can spark change, raise awareness or create new ways of thinking.

For the third year, YouTube has teamed up with TED to support their Ads Worth Spreading initiative, a global search for the 10 most compelling ad campaigns of the year.  The challenge reinforces TED’s overall mission of “ideas worth spreading” and YouTube’s belief in connecting brand’s ads with the people that will love them the most.

To help answer the question of what makes ads great, today TED released a report summarizing the findings from Ads Worth Spreading to date.  

For some great examples of what ads can be, check out this playlist  of the 10 of the winning ads from last year’s program, as well as interviews with the winners.  We are very excited to be part of this program again, and look forward to sharing the 2013 winners when they are announced at the annual TED conference in February.

Lucas Watson, VP Video Sales, recently watched “The Donation Army”.