In part due to the Super Bowl and all the attention it brings, the first quarter of any year is going to look inflated.  But year-over-year, people watched 40% more advertising than 2011 and 225% more from 2010, according to a study by Visible Measures.  To the tune of 1.3 billion views, social video ads are being watched more than ever.

Highlights include Invisible Children’s “KONY 2012” video but really the surprise of the last few months has been that M&M’s “Just My Shell” Super Bowl ad, buoyed by a funny premise and of course LMFAO’s “Sexy And I Know It.”

Breaking Down The Study: A Brilliant Start To Social Video in 2012

Here is the graph from Visible Measures, and you can see the past quarter towers over all the others in the past year:

Visible Measures uses only user-generated views to come up with their numbers, called “True Reach,” so an actual person is pressing “play” on these ads and watching them.

Here are the top 5 social video ad campaigns of Q1:

KONY 2012 garnered 172.2 million views, a phenomenon in every way:

Volkswagen’s much-discussed follow-up to last year’s most-watched Super Bowl ad, “The Force,” in which the company went with a dog/Star Wars hybrid called “The Dog Strikes Back,”, took in more than 37 million:

Volkswagen’s teaser to that ad, “The Bark Side,” adds to this campaign’s views:

It should also be noted that last year’s “The Force,” started getting traction again this year, once again showing that if you make a great piece of content, it can keep giving back.

Rovio’s Angry Birds can’t not make a list, as their ad for the new “Angry Birds: Space” took in around 30.7 million views:

Rounding out the top 5 is another well-covered ad, the Matthew Broderick Honda ad called “Matthew’s Day Off.”  It saw around 25.3 million views:

Overall, tremendous news for video as it continues to expand and create a greater reach.  It can only be encouraging for those brands who are on the fence about video to see these kinds of numbers.