Top 10 Websites for Advertising Inspiration
Updated: Dec 29, 2022
‘Can you show a reference?’ is probably one of the most commonly heard phrases in the world of advertising. Whether you’re seeking inspiration for an upcoming project or need examples for your ideas during pre-production meetings, a strong reference game is a must-have skill to level up in advertising.
But where do you find these videos? Be it renowned international filmmakers or upcoming creators, award-winning ads or classics, ads with a strong copy or ones with strong visuals, scouring the internet to find that one perfect video is like finding a needle in the haystack. But don’t worry, we’ve curated a comprehensive list of the top 10 referencing websites to help make your research easier and faster.
1. Vimeo Staff Picks
The best short films on the internet, hand-picked by Vimeo Staff
Launched in 2008, about four years after Vimeo was founded, Vimeo Staff Picks is a curation of the best, the most original videos on the internet, hand selected by Vimeo's in-house team. The Vimeo Staff Pick badge is highly coveted and making it to the list is let’s be honest - a big deal, with instances of many career breakthroughs of creators who made it to the list.
Staff Picks has over 15.6K videos to date which include videos that go back to a decade ago and videos which go beyond branded content to also include independent creators. There’s something for everyone - ads & commercials, short films, documentaries, festival winners, all of which have more or less one thing in common, “the intersection of exceptional craft and great storytelling,” says Ina Pira one of the curators in the team.
Over the course of ten years, Staff Picks has gone a step further and diversified into four more distinctions - Best of Vimeo Staff Picks, Best of the Year, Decade of Staff Picks, and Staff Pick Premieres.
To find your perfect reference, you can browse through the different categories, channels and groups.
Start Exploring: https://vimeo.com/watch
2. Ads of the World
Creative advertisements from around the world highlighted by the AOTW team.
AOTW for short, Ads of the World is a regularly updated website which curates advertising and marketing campaigns from across the world. What’s unique about AOTW is that they include advertisements not just from industry professionals but also some of the best student projects. If you’re looking for inspiration in a more advertising space and in formats besides just video, AOTW is the perfect website.
Similar to Vimeo Staff Picks, AOTW has a ‘Highlighted’ section which features a curated list of the best ad campaigns selected by their staff. There is a ‘Professional’ section too which showcases campaigns by various professional agencies like Ogilvy, DDB and so on. But creativity doesn't just stop there - many advertising students submit their projects too, which are featured under the ‘Student’ section. But in case you’re looking for something more specific - like Donald Trump in advertisements specific, you can check out AOTW’s ‘Collections’ which have various lists of campaigns spread across different themes and events - Mother’s Days, Super Bowl Commercials, Gender Equality and yes, Donald Trump in advertisements too.
Interestingly, Ads of the World is a part of the Clio Network, which is a platform that recognizes, “excellence in marketing and communications across film, television, live entertainment, and gaming.” You might recognise Clio from the ‘Clio Awards’ which is one of the most prestigious awards in advertising, celebrating the most creative and original advertisements across the world – making AOTW one of the most credible websites to find your references!
A global video channel screening the best in culture.
Launched in 2010, Nowness is a global video platform with a particular focus on “art, design, fashion, beauty, music, food, and travel.” With a curatorial approach, Nowness’s video collections have a niche which has an intersection of high-brow taste and unbranded-independent work of emerging and renowned artists. It’s a pandora of unexplored ideas, where you can find content under common categories of advertising, narratives, fashion and beauty as well as peculiar categories such as surrealism, sex and recipes.
If you want to find the best works from the best in the industry, Nowness has works of iconic artists and filmmakers also cataloged, to name a few - Wes Anderson, Andy Warhol, Alison Chernick and Barbara Anastacio amongst others. Emerging artists are also given a platform with their works being featured and nominated for the ‘NOWNESS’ Awards – an annual event that celebrates such breakthrough artists whose works “offer unconventional and new perspectives that are leading the cultural conversation on an international level” says Thomas Shao the Chairman and Founder of Modern Media and Chairman of NOWNESS.
While most of the content is curated, Nowness Picks goes a step further to bring together the best videos premiered through their platform as well as videos filtered according to popularity and viewer rating. Perhaps Nowness' best feature is the availability of subtitles for up to 10 languages including English, French, Spanish, and Korean - so that you can enjoy the beauty of international works without being bound by language constraints.
You can also check out Nowness’ YouTube channel with all the video archives on their website: https://www.youtube.com/c/nowness
4. Ad Forum
Connecting the Advertising & Marketing industry.
With over 2,00,000+ ad campaigns & case studies from around the world, Ad Forum’s library provides perhaps one of the most extensive, wide-ranging catalogs of creative works with detailed credits of the crew members involved in the project.
You have a variety of filters to specify your search in the directory - you can find videos by typing in the agency name, awards, countries and even business sectors. What makes Ad Forum even better, are the wide range of case studies available each focusing on the USP of the campaign and providing a short overview. Additionally, ‘Curated Showcases’ also provides a similar collection of best ad campaigns, from around the world. Some collections you can find are - mental health awareness, travel and tourism, Super Bowl and so on.
The website is completely free to access with millions of advertisements from India to Australia, from award-winning to fresh releases! Find your advertising inspiration on Ad Forum and elevate your referencing game!
5. Campaigns of the World:
A scroll of quality in the age of quantity
Another website that curates the most creative ideas in advertising is COTW or Campaigns of the World. With a clean UI/UX design, the website features five main categories in advertising - Print, Digital, Technology, Film and OOH or Out-of-home advertising. They also cover the latest advertising news and updates along with interesting articles under their ‘News’ category. The website is completely free to access and each campaign also has a detailed credit list!
As an advertiser, COTW should definitely be on your bookmarks to find the best international content! You can also check out their YouTube channel where they upload the best advertisements and video campaigns.
6. The Drum:
A leading global publisher for the marketing and media industries
The Drum is a global publishing website that posts articles about the latest marketing insights, advertising campaigns and forecasts for the future. The Drum especially makes it to our list to find references as under ‘Categories’ they have the ‘Creativity’ section which has the complete coverage of the new ad campaigns and commercial creative work globally.
Being up-to-date with industry trends, The Drum is the perfect place to find new branded content from the industry’s biggest agencies with commentary by industry experts. ‘Ad of the Day’ and ‘Ad of the Week’ give a glimpse into the current trending advertisements with insights that can help you understand what makes that ad work successfully.
While some articles on the website have a paywall, you can access the remaining articles for free!
7. Modern Copywriter:
A community of working portfolios
Copywriting is a crucial part of advertising and finding a website that catalogs the best copywriters in the industry is a tough find. Back in 2009, Jason Siciliano a copywriter and creative director wanted to find a solve for this and he went on to create ‘Modern Copywriter’ - a platform that brought together all the greatest copywriters across the industry.
“Copywriters (and all creatives) are gentle souls in a rough biz. It’s important to stick together, share what we know, inspire each other, and be there for one another when things get shitty. If MC can help us do that, awesome.” - Jason Sicilano
The website is a simple, no-bullshit platform with the goal to create a directory of industry professionals and a community that comes together to creatively inspire each other. MC has a comprehensive list of over 400+ working professionals and agencies all of which then individually redirect to their personal work portfolio and website. While certain sections of the website aren’t updated regularly, you can still find an expansive mine of advertising examples - be it print or video with strong, compelling and creative copies. Since 2009, the website has grown to also include other creatives from the industry along with a section for different advertising schools - providing myriad resources to help you find your perfect reference!
We don't make the ads - We measure them.
When searching for an advertisement, often we look at their numbers and other performative data like airing rank, and the estimated media budget to interpret how effective or successful they are. With the websites mentioned above we’re looking at ads from a purely cinematic perspective but iSpot.tv is a website that gets down to the numbers.
Founded by Sean Muller in 2012, iSpot.tv was the first ever ad catalog that corroborated data on TV advertisements, brands, agencies and more. Where there’s a void, there’s an idea — that's exactly what happened when Muller saw a high-production ad on TV and couldn’t find any information on it. He went on to bridge that gap and create iSpot.tv, the world’s only complete TV ad cataloging website — housing data on brands, products, actors, and more. This was the platform where you could find the best-performing ads with detailed analytics. Over the past decade, it has grown to become an industry leader in the space of ad metrics.
In the ‘Ad Center’ section you can particularly find resources for ad research - Top Ads, Top Spenders, Super Bowl 2022, Beijing Olympics and of course you can simply browse ads too in specific industry sections of F&B, Travel, Retail and much more.
9. Best Ads:
To find all things advertising, Best Ads is your go-to platform. While the name says ‘Best Ads on TV,’ the website includes that and print, outdoor, interactive and radio advertisements. Don’t be fooled by the old-school website design, the site is regularly updated with the latest, most creative advertisements and has a catalog of over thousands of ads and 45+ categories including experiential, food, government and web films to find your content from!
Best Ads have their very own ranking, where they rank advertising agencies, clients, directors, and production companies among others to provide a greater insider look into the industry. With so many ads and campaigns to watch, you’re bound to find one that fits what you’re looking for!
10. Warc 100:
The ultimate benchmark for marketing
WARC stands for ‘World Advertising Research Center’ and it is essentially an equivalent of an online library with hundreds of different resources on advertising. If you’re looking for academic-backed content, you’re sure to find research articles and insights on real-life campaigns. But if you’re a creative looking for video campaigns for referencing or inspiration, don’t worry Warc has got you covered for that too!
Warc Rankings is a ranking of the most creative and awarded campaigns worldwide, setting an example for its creative excellence and performance. They have three lists - Creative 100, Media 100, Effective 100 each with a comprehensive list of campaigns.
While ‘Creative 100’ covers creative campaigns and companies, ‘Media 100’ covers top campaigns and companies in media, and ‘Effective 100’ includes campaigns most-awarded for effectiveness. From these lists you can find the top campaigns over the years, and across several categories.
Made with the purpose of sharing advertising knowledge, WARC takes inspiration from David Ogilvy’s “lamentation that no other profession gets by on such a small corpus of knowledge as advertising.” And for the past 25 years, WARC has successfully solved that challenge.
Good Ads Matter
After going through all these websites we realised that there was still a void when it came to a platform dedicated solely to curating best ads. Being a part of the advertising community ourselves, we wanted to create repository of the best advertising content across the globe, clutter free, hand picked by team at Purpose. 'Through sharing we all learn' is a belief which has inspired us to create this platform with completely free access to all.
To help simplify your search for the best ad, within our repository of more than 2200+ ads, we have carefully catalogued each video under categories of Fashion, Technology, Award-winning, Storytelling and more. Regularly updated with fresh hand-picked videos, Good Ads Matter is an initiative that hopes to give back to the very community we've learnt so much from!
Check it out for yourself: Good Ads Matter
You can also check out our Instagram, where everyday, we post the best ads for your daily dose of inspiration: Good Ads Matter on IG
To summarize, here’s a list of the top 10 websites to find your perfect advertising reference: