Skip to main content
Canada Blog


A Year of Ads on YouTube: Top Trends and Takeaways from 2023

What I Wouldn’t Do (North Star Calling) - Artists for Feel Out Loud supporting Kids Help Phone (Kids Help Phone)

Today we’re celebrating the creativity, advertisers and storytelling that made the list of the Top 10 most popular video ads in Canada this year. From tourism partners, to retailers and automakers, Canadian advertisers are constantly turning to YouTube to build awareness, and engage audiences and customers. This year we’re also seeing advertisers take creative approaches to ad lengths and production methods. The uniqueness of YouTube means that storytelling is what truly breaks through. A story doesn’t need to be 30 seconds, or be broadcast level production. It can be scrappy, it can be over a minute, or in the case of Matty Matheson's sponsored video, more than 7 minutes.

Some of the key themes we saw this year included:

Start with the story. Best practices matter, but it’s the creative—the insights, the story and how it’s told—that counts. It doesn’t hurt to make people laugh and lean into emotions. The best ads we’ve seen reflect the human experience and inspire. For example, set against a cover from local duo Mayfly, Bonjour Québec’s creative style is more an invite than an ad, bringing the magic of the province to life, and welcoming viewers to join in the experience.

Connect with your audience like a creator. People connect with brands that behave like creators, crafting work that’s unique to the platform it runs on, and reflects trends and styles, embraces fandom, and invites conversation and commentary. YETI's work with Matty Matheson shows that partnering with creators can be the best way to tell your brand’s story in an authentic way to new audiences.

Create for YouTube, not TV. Storytelling formats and production styles have changed and brands are taking great advantage of YouTube’s unique canvas, blending non-traditional lengths and production styles with orientations like vertical Shorts for the greatest creative variety and results. This year, Kids Help Phone shows us a great example of taking time to tell the story by delivering an almost five minute, emotionally charged ad. And finally, we have RONA’s hilarious Black Friday ad, that resonated with Canadian consumers on a level no other Black Friday ad did.

Canadians still love to be entertained. Every year we publish this list, movie trailers bubble to the top. Canadians go to YouTube to be entertained and to learn, and movies satisfy both of these desires. And movies also present an opportunity for adjacent storytelling and creativity. Canadians love movie trailers but we also love the dissection of a topic. We crave information about upcoming films to know more about the plot, behind the scenes, interviews, or easter eggs, and YouTube satisfies all our curiosities around a topic.

Here’s the list of the Top Canadian Ads of 2023 on YouTube. Congratulations to all the advertisers and creatives who made this year’s list!

  1. Oppenheimer | New Trailer (Universal Pictures Canada)
  2. To summer in Quebec is to summer all out (Bonjour Québec)
  3. lululemon | Mens 2023 (lululemon)
  4. What I Wouldn’t Do (North Star Calling) - Artists for Feel Out Loud supporting Kids Help Phone (Kids Help Phone)
  5. Hyundai | We make WAH | Hyundai Canada (Hyundai Canada)
  6. RONA Black Friday (RONA Inc)
  7. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes | Teaser Trailer (20th Century Studios Canada)
  8. Celebrating 30 years of wonder in Las Vegas | Cirque du Soleil (Cirque du Soleil)
  9. Élémentaire | Bande-annonce officielle (Walt Disney Studios Canada)
  10. Soba Noodle Masterclass at Blue Goose Farm | Packed Up (MATTY MATHESON)

Methodology: YouTube’s 2023 Ads Leaderboard factors in organic and paid views, watch time, and audience retention. Placements are limited to one ad per brand to better reflect the broad range, quality, and popularity of YouTube ads in Canada throughout the year. The timeframe for this leaderboard is 10/20/2022 - 12/10/2023, with ad activity measured in 2023.