I love writing about viral marketing, and in particular, video marketing that pushes the boundaries of what advertising can look like and how it can behave.  I write about such videos often, even just last week.  So it should come as no surprise that I’m the guy writing about a new partnership between Campaign Media and YouTube to find the very best YouTube ads.

The program is called I Love Ads and will ultimately crown one video as Ad of the Year.  And the winner’s prize is hefty—they’ll get to take over the YouTube home page for a month, which is quite a valuable prize in terms of what such a thing would normally cost.  It’ll also drive 11 million or so page views.  So the winning agency stands to gain quite a bit.

Submissions are open until the 23rd of September, and submitted videos have to have been uploaded between January 1, 2009 and August 31, 2010.

Here’s a video with Ian Darby of Campaign talking about the competition:

Now, the whole thing is being integrated with the annual Campaign Media Awards, which will be held on November 17.  And the YouTube Ad of the Year is actually just a new award category for that long-running event.  (It should be noted that Campaign Media is a UK company, and some publications refer to this as a UK-only contest, though there is nothing on the I Love Ads YouTube page to indicate the contest is limited by country.)

I think this is a fantastic step.  Online video is an entirely new medium for advertisers, with some very unique and creative things being done that simply weren’t possible in television or print campaigns.  So it’s nice to see such a high profile award created to honor the best of the online video ads.  I wouldn’t mind seeing an entire awards show built entirely out of online video advertising—like the Oscars of YouTube marketing.

But until the rest of the world is as ready for that idea as I am, it’s at least nice to see some love being thrown at the online video marketing world by the traditional marketing industry.

Any UK readers out there have their finger on the pulse enough to tell us which ads to watch out for in this race?  Any American agencies planning to submit their own work?  If you had to pick the single best advertising video you’ve seen on YouTube in the last 18 months… which one would it be?