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Budweiser brews up strongest YouTube strategy for engaging millennials

Bud Light and Budweiser are among big beer brands that have poured more than $23 million into YouTube videos in the past year to engage millennials who favor craft brews, according to a report from Strike Social.

Bud Light drank up the most YouTube views for its videos - 120 million - and had 15.4 million earned views, while companion brand Budweiser achieved the highest level of engagement, 57.2 million earned views on 106 million total views. The statistics reflect how brand marketers are grasping that reaching the important millennial demographic requires engaging them on mobile and in a place close to their hearts ? YouTube.

?YouTube as a platform has about one billion active users every month with about six billion hours of video watched per month, so as an advertising vehicle it has amazing reach,? said Patrick McKenna, CEO of Strike, a Los Angeles-based social video intelligence company that delivers hyper-targeted YouTube advertising campaigns. 

?Millennials are among the heaviest users of YouTube, and are also cord-cutters, meaning many of them don?t have cable TV, but prefer to get their content outside of the traditional means through platforms such as YouTube and Netflix.

?So if you?re a brand, and you want to reach this demo, YouTube needs to be a key part of your advertising strategy,? he said.

King of Beers?
Budweiser brewed up the strongest YouTube performance with four of the top 10 best performing YouTube videos during the past 12 months, all related to their Super Bowl campaign, according to the report.

Heineken was second with three videos in the top 10 best performing beer-brand videos.

Budweiser SuperBowl video.

Samuel Adams had the third best performing video among the beer brands with its HeliYUM video, which was all organic ? meaning no spend ? and garnered 652,000 views.

Ranked by views, the top five beer brands on YouTube were: Bud Light (120 million), Budweiser (106 million), Heineken (38 million), Michelob ULTRA (20.5 million) and Corona (17.6 million).

Both Samuel Adams and Corona, whose Dani Martin video was also in the top 10, missed an opportunity to drive more YouTube engagement for their videos by failing to put sufficient advertising dollars against those videos, Strike noted.

Total views can be a misleading metric for YouTube performance because they can represent promotion on the part of the brand, not audience engagement. Earned views reveal which brand had the most engaging content, and it is audience engagement that drives sales.

?Mobile makes up about 40 percent of YouTube?s global watch time,? Mr. McKenna said. ?Here again, millennials are heavy mobile users, so it just makes good business sense to use YouTube to reach mobile users, and particularly millennials.

?And mobile has an instant gratification effect,? he said. ?You can be sitting at a bar with your device, watch a great YouTube beer video with your friends, and order that brand right away.?
This marketing approach has its risks. For one thing, trying to push content YouTube viewers do not like can turn them off. 

No data was available on how well the beer brands' YouTube ads went over with mobile users.

?We don?t have any specific data on this, but as I said, 40 percent of YouTube watch time is on mobile, so you can estimate that about 40 percent of the views for the beer brands were on a mobile device,? Mr. McKenna said. ?That?s a lot of views.?
Brands that run YouTube videos often simply leverage the content from TV commercials, so that is what the experience is usually like. But the most effective content is often specifically made for YouTube. 

Music power
For example, Corona created YouTube videos of live music sessions with Dani Martin. These videos did very well, reaffirming the general belief that music works well on YouTube.

Battling for millennials' favor.

?We see YouTube as a kind of billion-person focus group,? Mr. McKenna said. ?You can test content with a small ad spend and determine what your target demo likes, which you can see through organic views and shares. 

?Once you find the content that resonates, then you put the weight of your ad dollars behind that content to really get traction.?

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York