How Dropbox got 25 million views in one year using animation

The Undertals Production Focus
February 19, 2011
Abbass Kiarostami 1940 – 2016
July 5, 2016

How animation can help make your business thrive

Video is quickly becoming one of the fastest-growing mediums on the internet

In 2009 a startup called Dropbox decided to create a simple 2D explainer video for their website.
Dropbox paid $50,000 to make the 2:10 min short and placed it on the homepage of their site. Within a year, Dropbox conversions increased by 10%.

Dropbox doubled the number of users in 2010 to 8 million, from 4 million in 2009. In 2013, the video garnered an average of 30,000 views per day and has been viewed over 30 million times.

Dropbox video on Youtube

In 2012 Australia’s Metro Trains commissioned an animated 2D video to promote rail safety.

Accidents and deaths among young people on Melbourne’s Metro train system had been on the rise for years but the directors of Metro Trains knew that young people do not listen to public safety messages.

They needed to find a way of making train safety a concern or at least a conversation among the 13 to 25 year olds.

A song called “Dumb Ways to Die” was written and a video was created based on that song. The video and song were uploaded to YouTube and iTunes and within a week had obtained 20 million views and was covered on every news service in Australia.

“Dumb Ways to Die” video on YouTube

Today the video has more than 129 million views and rising, as well as 1,000,000+ likes, 3+ million Facebook shares, and 2,000+ blog posts.

These examples are just a few to show how potent and compelling video, and particularly animated video, can be when it comes to marketing and education.

These are, obviously, some of the most outstanding examples, but they nonetheless are a great proof of how a medium like animation, coupled with creativity and passion, can create a very appealing message.

In this article I intend to underline some of the benefits of using animated videos in your marketing and advertising efforts, and how beneficial these can be to your conversion results.

Different Ways of Using Animated Video for Your Business

Before I delve into how animated video can be beneficial for your business I would like to provide a list of ways you can use animated videos for your business. This list is not exhaustive but it gives you an idea of the range of uses these videos may have.

In the near future, I will prepare a complete article on ways of using animated video, but for the moment this list can give you an inkling of what is possible.

These are some of the ways you can use video for your business:


1.   Customer testimonials

2.   On-demand product demonstration videos

3.   Explainer and tutorial videos

4.   Thought leader interviews

5.   Project reviews and case studies

6.   Live and on-demand webinars

7.   Video blogs

8.   Event videos


This shows that you can use video for all stages of your marketing and sales funnel, whether it is in the awareness and discovery phase or the purchase phase.

Why is Animated Video Important for Your Business?

There is a wide range of reasons why animated video can help your marketing and sales processes and I’ve tried to point out some of the most essential ones in the following paragraphs.

1) Digital and easy to access

Video can be placed and seen almost anywhere; it can be embedded in your website, uploaded to “Youtube or other video channels, viewed in social channels like Instagram and Vine, or projected on a screen during an event.

It is extremely versatile and allows you to not only see the whole video, but also create shorter versions, snippets, screenshots …

2) YouTube is HUGE!!

These are some statistics about Youtube that really boggle the mind:

  • Total number of people who use YouTube – 1,300,000,000
  • 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute!
  • Almost 5 billion videos are watched on Youtube every single day.
  • The total number of hours of video watched on YouTube each month – 900 million.
  • 10,113 Youtube videos generated over 1 billion views.
  • 80% of YouTube’s views are from outside of the U.S.
  • The average number of mobile YouTube video views per day is 1,000,000,000
  • Mobile Youtube users spent 40 minutes on average session, up more than 50% year-over-year
  • More than half of YouTube views come from mobile devices.
  • YouTube’s mobile revenue is up 2x y/y.
  • The number of hours people spend watching videos (aka watch time) on YouTube is up 60% year-over-year, the fastest growth we’ve seen in 2 years.
  • You can navigate YouTube in a total of 76 different languages (covering 95% of the Internet population).

This goes to show what a powerful channel YouTube can be and how profitable it can be to leverage such a huge audience; you have 1.3 billion viewers (BILLION!!) at your disposal completely free. All you have to do is to create great content and market the hell out of it.

YouTube 2016 stats inforgraphic screenshot

Click on image to view  or download the complete infographic (source: Design Infographics)

3) Production costs have decreased considerably

In the past you needed a huge budget for animated video production, not only because production costs were high, but also because people were still not used to seeing simple animated videos. You had to create a big-budget video and broadcast it on TV because that was the way everyone did it.

Nowadays any small business has the opportunity to create and promote animated videos, using passion, a talented and creative team, and a plethora of free and accessible distribution channels.

Just by using YouTube alone you can have access to over a billion users without spending a cent. It all goes back to how interesting and engaging your content is and how you intend to promote it to your audience.

4) People spend an enormous amount of time on the internet and social networks

According to new data, the average user logs 1.72 hours per day on social platforms, which represents about 28 percent of all online activity. GlobalWebIndex polled 170,000 internet users about their internet habits, and found that average usage times for social media sites rose from 1.66 hours per day in 2013 to 1.72 hours per day last year. (source: SocialTimes).

People are spending a lot of time on the internet and on social sites and they are obtaining a good part of their knowledge, learning, and information from the web.

By clicking on the image below you can see an infographic on the continued growth of social media.

Infographic on the continued growth of social media

Courtesy of Please click on image to see full infographic

5) Video is going interactive


Interactive video promises to be one of the most useful marketing tools of the futures. Until now, technological barriers have hampered the implementation of players and infrastructure that could allow brands to easily use such technology, but we’re slowly getting there.

Companies like Snapapp and RaptMedia are providing interactive solutions using html5 and it won’t be long before this sort of technology, like assessments, calculators, quizzes, integrated questionnaires, surveys, or data collection forms, becomes mainstream.

There is a great definition of interactive video on Snapapp’s website which points to the potential of using video as an interactive tool:

Interactive video transforms a traditional viewing experience from a monologue into a dialogue. An interactive video incorporates a wide variety of interactive elements directly into the video itself, including hot spots, questions, calculations, lead generation and more. Any video can be made interactive, customized with almost limitless interaction.


6) A Video Can Say a Lot in a Short Amount of Time


In the time it takes you to read an informative blog post (usually about 2000 to 3000 words) you can watch at least 5 to 10 animated explainer videos that last about 2 minutes each (it takes the average person between 12 to 23 minutes to read 2000 to 3000 words).

Not only is it faster to obtain information from a video but also, due to its visual nature, information obtained from a video is easier to commit to memory. I have included some statistics which show the importance of visuals when it comes to seeing, processing, or memorizing data:


  • Researchers found that colored visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%. (source)
  • The brain can see images that last for just 13 milliseconds.
  • Our eyes can register 36,000 visual messages per hour.
  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual.
  • Visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text.
  • 40 percent of nerve fibers are linked to the retina

Besides, animated explainer videos have the potential of simplifying concepts and ideas so that the viewer can better commit them to memory or learn from them.

The Power of visual content infographic

Courtesy of Please click on image to see full infographic.

7) Better engagement with your audience

Apart from the fact that video can say a lot in a short amount of time, we should also take into consideration the fact that video is just more engaging and fun than text.

A very important part of video which many people fail to consider is the audio. Using beautiful imagery and visuals, a great soundtrack, talented voice acting and a good script, you can create an immersive and appealing experience to convey the mood and substance of your message in a very powerful way.

This is obviously amplified in the case of animation, where loveable characters with amazing and vibrant colors interact with their surrounding world, in which the only limit is your imagination. Animation tends to take us back to our childhood memories and create a sense of familiarity and longing for simpler times.

Statistics show than an estimated 79 percent of internet traffic will be video content by 2018, which goes to demonstrate the efficiency and allure of video for marketing to the masses.

8) Measure engagement with Analytics

By far one of the most important aspects of video when it comes to marketing and growing your business is the ability to measure its engagement and interaction with its target market.

Nowadays advances in technology allow us to measure many aspects of engagement with our audience.

You can measure how many people have viewed your video, how many people have liked it, how many have shared it on the internet and social media sites, and even how far they watched your video.

In fact, you can obtain a lot of information about how your audience interacts with your content (which devices they use, where they are, etc.), as well as create Call to Actions, captions, and links to direct them to what you want them to do next.

It is always easier and safer to manage what you can measure and in this respect video analytics can be invaluable as a marketing tool.

9) It is Easily Viewable across Multiple Platforms

The ubiquity of screens of all sizes in every household, office, public space, and anywhere else you can imagine, alongside the ever-increasing presence of internet access, allows video content to be seen everywhere.

Video can be broadcast on TV, posted on Youtube, Vimeo, Wists, and other video sharing channels, viewed on Facebook, Instagram, and vine, or even shared through messaging apps such as Telegram and Whatsapp; and let’s not forget Snapchat and its increasing user base.

We are now used to viewing video on TV, mobile, tablet, laptop, or PC monitors, and with mobile internet becoming available to the masses you can watch video anytime, anywhere. In fact, studies show that families who watch TV in their living room are increasingly using their second screen (mobile or tablet) at the same time, browsing social media sites, or watching videos.

Video distribution channels are becoming more accessible and less costly as we go along and companies who leverage this escalation in choice will have better access to their audience.

10) Greater Likelihood of Going Viral

Animated videos can be unique when it comes to the imagery they display or the story they express. They can depict completely impossible and imaginary worlds and situations, or they can include characters that have never been seen before, or even imagined for that matter.

These endless possibilities give animation a special power to capture the imagination of its audience and bring out the inner child in them.

Their simplicity, colorfulness, and humor make them ideal candidates for sharing with your social network.

11) Animated Video and the Sales Funnel

Technology in general, if used correctly, is a great way of increasing our existing resources, and video can be used in a variety of ways to not only increase our lead generation results and attract new clients, but also to help inform and satisfy existing ones.

We can use animated video in all the different phases of a marketing and sales cycle; whether it is to help your audience discover their needs or to introduce your solution.

Another bonus is that they can easily be re-targeted to different channels, so that a video you have created for your website can easily be posted on Instagram or Youtube, or included in your Telegram channel.

12) Animation is FUN!

Being serious is over-rated. We live in a tumultuous and connected world; if an elephant sneezes in Timbuktu you will hear about it. All this access to news, which is mostly bad, shocking, or scary, makes us grumpy and stressful.

We need more fun, more love, and more smiles. We now have the attention span of a famished hummingbird, jumping from snippets to tweets, and from headlines to sub headlines.

Simple, colorful animated content that is droll and amusing can be a change from the seriousness surrounding us.

You can convey the most sophisticated concepts using simple, fun animations.

Stop taking yourself so seriously; have some fun!

Final Musings

The internet has completely reshaped our lives and how we do business, and things are just warming up. New interactive technologies and the rapid advances in A.I. and Virtual reality will soon create a world where most of our routine interactions are routed through the internet and our mobile devices.

As animated content becomes more accessible it will play a more important role in communicating our messages, whether they are business-related or general concepts.

Today, animated content can help you spread your message through many free channels such as Youtube, your website, and many other social networks, and allow you to create a sales pipeline that is informative, compelling, and fun.

I would love to receive your thoughts and comments on this article. Have you ever used animated content for your marketing or have you ever thought about it?

If you liked this article I would appreciate your sharing it to your friends and colleagues, or anyone whom you think would be interested. (You can use the share buttons on the left of the page or on the bottom of this article.

Thank you for reading.

You can read more about what video styles and formats you can use in your marketing in our blog post titled: “Animated Video Styles and Uses

Reza Ghobady
Reza Ghobady
I have a passion for creating visual stories using CGI, interactive media and digital tools I founded a creative studio in 2003 called Vishka Studio for designing and creating animated CGI content for broadcast. Our vision is to become an entertainment company focused on creating digital edutainment for kids and families. I love watching movies (particularly CGI), playing casual games, writing short articles and playing with my son.


  1. Comprehensive article and excellent metrics. But you didn’t answer my most burning question: Did the “Dumb Ways to Die” animation work? What effect did it have on the increase in accidents and deaths on the Melbourne Metro train system? Because, all due respect, if it had no positive effect, all those views, and all that publicity, are useless — even counterproductive, because they’d give the impression that the animation was effective, when all it was was popular — not effective.

    Thank you!

    • Reza Ghobady says:

      Thank you, I’m very glad you liked the article.
      I don’t doubt that the campaign was effective, but the question is how effective, and I don’t think anyone has the real answer.
      I believe the best solution is to take both sides of the argument into consideration and make your own conclusions. Here are two differing opinions:
      View Slide no. 9
      Another more pragmatic view
      Personally I believe the campaign was extremely successful, not because it changed behaviors (you cannot depend on one visual campaign to change behaviors; it will take more time and more investment), but because it showed that creativity and humor can be powerful weapons for getting people’s attention. Get their attention enough times and habits will start to change.
      Thank you for reading the article and giving your feedback.

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