‘Tis the season when the online video and internet marketing industries start rolling out their lists of the top videos of 2016. However, each of these lists should come with a ranking methodology tag similar to the mattress tags that warn consumers: “Do not remove under penalty of law.” Although mattress tags have baffled and amused consumers for decades, the ones I’m talking about should clearly warn media companies that ranking methodology matters. This is especially important in a year when news organizations that published election forecasts the night before the US Presidential Election said the chances that Hillary Clinton would win the Electoral College ranged from 71% to 98% -  and we all know how that turned out.

So, I hope video marketers will resist the obvious temptation to see if one of their videos (or one from a direct competitor) has made it onto one of these annual lists of top videos. What I would encourage them to do is look for the list’s ranking methodology instead. Here’s why it matters: Different metrics will yield different results.

For example, if the rankings of top videos is based on just “views,” then it will be heavily weighted in favor of videos that were uploaded or published earlier in the year – because they have more time to accumulate views than videos published later in the year. Plus, you might want to filter out videos which primarily get their views from advertising. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a list that has too many Super Bowl commercials – because this annual tent-pole event is held in early February and brands tend to spend a ton of money promoting their TV commercials online.

Why is this a bad thing? Well, it can lead many media companies to mistakenly think that they need to create videos that are 30 or 60 seconds long – just like the popular ones from Super Bowl 2016 – if they want to be just as successful before or during other tent-pole events or at different seasons of the year throughout 2017. Let me just say this about that assumption: Bah! Humbug!

Not All Video Views Are Equal

Fortunately, there is an alternative ranking methodology that levels the playing field. It’s Tubular Video Ratings, a standardized metric that rates every online video according to views and engagement. Launched back in April, this is the first time that we can use it to benchmark YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram videos uploaded in the last 365 days. This isn’t a trivial task. According to Tubular Labs, 71.8 million accounts uploaded 762.3 million videos to YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram in the last 365 days. And these videos have received close to 6.0 trillion (with a “t”) views and 230.2 billion (with a “b”) engagements on the three leading video platforms over that period of time.

Now, all “views” are not created equal. So, we still can’t get an apples-to-apples comparison of the most popular videos across all video platforms. But by using the V30 metric, which measures the views a video gets in its first 30 days, we can at least ease the bias of videos uploaded earlier in the year.

And by selecting “Noteworthy” videos, which is Tubular’s filter that only shows videos that get more views than expected given the upload creator’s follower count and do not primarily get views from advertising, we can create a list that delivers strategic insights, critical data, tactical advice, and significant trends in the digital video marketing business.

 Top 10 YouTube videos from 2016

1: Calvin Harris - This Is What You Came For (Official Video) ft. Rihanna by CalvinHarrisVEVO. Uploaded on June 17, 2016, this 4:00-long video got 232 million views in its first 30 days.

2: Rihanna - Work (Explicit) ft. Drake by RihannaVEVO. Uploaded on Feb. 22, 2016, this 7:35-long video got 153 million views in its first 30 days.

3: ZAYN - PILLOWTALK by ZaynVEVO. Uploaded on Jan. 29, 2016, this 3:27-long video got 144 million views in its first 30 days.

4: Bad Baby Real Food Fight Toy Freaks Family by Toy Freaks. Uploaded on July 20, 2016, this 4:41-long video got 141 million views in its first 30 days.

5: Ariana Grande - Side To Side ft. Nicki Minaj by ArianaGrandeVevo. Uploaded on Aug. 29, 2016, this 3:58-long video got 137 million views in its first 30 days.

6: The Weeknd - Starboy (official) ft. Daft Punk by TheWeekndVEVO. Uploaded on Sept. 28, 2016, this 4:34-long video got 130 million views in its first 30 days.

7: Major Lazer - Cold Water (feat. Justin Bieber & MØ) by majorlazer. Uploaded on July 21, 2016, this 3:09-long video got 104 million views in its first 30 days.

8: Sia - The Greatest by SiaVEVO. Uploaded on Sept. 6, 2016, this 5:52-long video got 98.6 million views in its first 30 days.

9: The Chainsmokers - Closer (Lyric) ft. Halsey by ChainsmokersVEVO. Uploaded on July 29, 2016, this 4:22-long video got 98.2 million views in its first 30 days.

10: Bad Baby Victoria Cut Annabelle Hair "Make Up Fail" Toy Freaks by Toy Freaks. Uploaded on July 27, 2016, this 4:39-long video got 96.6 million views in its first 30 days.

So, what can media companies learn from this top 10 list? Well, six of them are music videos and another two are in a related sub-category that I hadn’t noticed before: Lyric videos. The remain two videos are from Toy Freaks, which features Victoria, Annabelle, and Freak Daddy making skits and pranking each other. It’s sort of a category unto itself. In any case, it’s worth noting that the average length of all 10 of these YouTube videos is 4:38.

 Top 10 Facebook videos from 2016

1: BEST FRIENDS! (w/ Dwarf Mamba) by Logan Paul. Uploaded on Aug. 28, 2016, this 1:04-long video got 185 million views in its first 30 days.

2: Recycled Towel Bathmat by Nifty. Uploaded on Sept. 14, 2016, this 1:09-long video got 173 million views in its first 30 days.

3: Massive pillow chair by INSIDER design. Uploaded on Nov. 3, 2016, this 0:56-long video got 159 million views in its first 30 days.

4: HE JUST SUED THE SCHOOL SYSTEM by Viral Thread. Uploaded on Oct. 4, 2016, this 5:28-long video got 155 million views in its first 30 days.

5: Best Game Of Hide & Seek Ever by UNILAD. Uploaded on Sept. 20, 2016, this 1:00-long video got 135 million views in its first 30 days.

6: Churro Ice Cream Bowls by Tasty. Uploaded on April 9, 2016, this 1:17-long video got 134 million views in its first 30 days.

7: This Girl Falls Over A Lot by UNILAD. Uploaded on Aug. 2, 2016, this 0:52-long video got 133 million views in its first 30 days.

8: Stairway to heaven at Villa Honegg by Discover world. Uploaded on Sept. 30, 2016, the 0:38-long video got 132 million views in its first 30 days.

9: Pizza Puff Pastry Twists by Tasty. Uploaded on Jan. 7, 2016, this 0:42-long video got 131 million views in its first 30 days.

10: Magic Chocolate Ball by BuzzFeed Food. Uploaded on Feb. 11, 2016 this 0:58-long video got 123 million views in its first 30 days.

So, what can media companies learn from this top 10 list? Well, UNILAD and Tasty each placed two videos in this fairly eclectic list. So, a couple of video publishers seemed to have cracked the code for creating Facebook videos that get tons of views. In any case, it’s worth noting that the average length of all 10 of these Facebook videos is 1:24.

 Top 10 Instagram videos from 2016

1: Hey guys! by Sarah Hyland. Uploaded on Oct. 19, 2016, this video got 25.0 million views in its first 30 days.

Hey guys! Just wanted to let you know I love your guts and I hope you love mine too! 💀

A video posted by Sarah Hyland (@therealsarahhyland) on

2: #olympics #olympicsrio2016 by rogerioz. Uploaded on Aug. 6, 2016, this video got 20.1 million views in its first 30 days.

3: Les comparto este video realizado con mi by José Fernando Neira. Uploaded on Aug. 5, 2016, this video got 19.0 million views in its first 30 days.

4: Oh My God!!! Neymar!!!!  by Mark Jungers. Uploaded on Aug. 17, 2016, this video got 18.7 million views in its first 30 days.

5: #olympicgames by Agustina Mignone. Uploaded on Aug. 10, 2016, this video got 18.4 million views in its first 30 days.

6: Wrap it up by brittanyfurlan. Uploaded on Oct. 17, 2016, this video got 18.2 million views in its first 30 days.

7: Yep... @justinverlander is a better dancer than me! by Kate Upton. Uploaded on Oct. 31, 2016, this video got 18.0 million views in its first 30 days.

8: Laura Ludwig is dominating again! by Mark Jungers. Uploaded on Aug. 17, 2016, this video got 16.4 million views in its first 30 days.

9: How to find out if bae is cheating on you by Lele Pons. Uploaded on Oct. 29, 2016, this video got 14.9 million views in its first 30 days.

10: THE PERSONAL TRAINER by Amanda Cerny. Uploaded on Oct. 13, 2016, this video got 14.5 million views in its first 30 days.

And what can media companies learn from this top 10 list? Well, five of these top 10 Instavids are from female celebrities. And five of them are from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. And even though longer video on Instagram began rolling out on March 29, 2016, giving users the flexibility to tell their story in up to 60 seconds of video, all of these top Instavids – which were made months after that date – are less than 0:30 long – before they start looping back over again.

Now, I hope that media companies learn some important lessons from these rankings of top videos in 2016. In addition to the ones that I shared above, let me just add a couple more:

  • First, if you want to get people to watch your content, then it makes more sense to make videos like the ones above than it is to make ones that look like Super Bowl commercials.
  • Second, it also make sense to tailor your content to each video platform. That’s because every video platform is different and requires different storytelling techniques.

If you disagree, then share your thoughts with us on Facebook or Twitter. Or, feel free to mention this column on December 23 during the “Airing of Grievances” following the Festivus dinner.