Every year, the bar is raised in terms of both innovation and effectiveness in YouTube advertising. The third YouTube Works awards, in partnership with the APG and Campaign, recognises just that — championing the brands and agencies that delivered measurable results through creativity and strategic thinking.
These are the best-in-class campaigns — the brands that combined data, use of YouTube’s ad formats and a strong creative to brand-build, reach audiences in unique ways, and entertain or inform, be that reaching ingeniously into the culinary past or tapping into a feline future.
Judged equally on three criteria — how well is the story told, how big is the effect (within the category and budget), and how much did YouTube add to the success of the campaign — these eight agencies and brands set the benchmark for effectiveness.
Below you’ll find out who were crowned the winners, the challenges they overcame and the measurable results they delivered.
“I’m honoured to have chaired the YouTube Works Awards this year," says Verra Budimilja, chair of judges and Wavemaker CSO. "At a time when so much about our industry is in flux, knowing what works and proving a return on marketing investment is critical. Each winning paper did just that.”
English Heritage: Grand Prix + Breakthrough Advertiser
Picking up on the success of one well-performing cooking video, English Heritage pivoted from a “hodge-podge of ad-hoc content” (their words) to create a humorous foodie series, The Victorian Way — a kind of Nigella Lawson meets 19th-Century English country house cook.
Utilising Google trends to research popular food search terms, and YouTube analytics to measure performance, metrics such as audience retention, to fine-tune the creative, English Heritage has grown its subscriber base from 1,000 to 450,000 in just three years. Today, the channel reaches over 2.5 million YouTube viewers every month, helping bring its charitable messaging — and some heritage-rich foodie inspiration — to a global audience.
It was a move that proved to be a recipe for YouTube success, with our judges awarding the charity both the breakthrough advertiser award and the big one: the Grand Prix prize.
“We had new and younger audiences we needed to reach with our key storytelling, and YouTube has been a natural fit for us.”
– Tom Dennis, Head of Content Marketing, English Heritage
Whiskas and AMV BBDO: Best Long-Term Effectiveness
Feline-focused videos may be a YouTube favourite but the sheer quantity of cat-based capers can make it hard to cut through. Whiskas’ long-term commitment to online video and a fun but educational approach ensured it was the cat that got the cream. The Kat Institute of Technology (K.I.T.) series, the follow-up to 2015’s Kitten Kollege, saw brand mentions up by 537% and a profit ROI of 3.2:1 — the best business result in Mars’s digital history.
Simply Business and Brainlabs: Best Use of YouTube for Performance Marketing
Competing successfully in the highly competitive insurance market is no mean feat, but Simply Business did exactly that with its ‘You Name It, We Insure It’ campaign. With a strong creative in hand, it enlisted Brainlabs to create a bespoke geographically targeted YouTube strategy. Reaching high-intent custom audiences at scale led to the generation of approximately 150,000 new prospects in three months, and a 1,349% increase in brand interest.
''This approach has delivered phenomenal results and created a lasting appetite to keep experimenting across programmatic channels.”
– Michael Garvey - Head of Brand and Communications
PepsiCo, AMV BBDO and OMD: Winner
How do you get the wellness generation invigorated by oats? Quaker Oats’ ‘narrowcast’ campaign gave the humble breakfast cereal a timely boost with the help of data-driven mass customisation. Segmenting their audience into three groups with different health and wellness needs, it was able to focus on the functional benefits that resonated most with each audience. The result? An uplift of 122% in brand interest, as well as an increase in product interest, purchase intent and consideration.
“YouTube helped us understand and utilise the power of data-driven marketing. We proved that a data-led mass-personalisation approach is more effective than a broad digital approach for Quaker.”
– Adam Wróblewski, WESA Grains Digital Marketing Manager, PepsiCo
Heathrow Airport and iCrossing UK: Winner
Heathrow Airport wanted to generate warmth and positivity around the brand over the busy Christmas period. Their much-loved Heathrow Bears leveraged familiarity and reached new audiences with a YouTube strategy that connected every phase of the campaign. From a masthead launch to sequential bumper ads, the launch alone reached 12 million unique users — the equivalent of 18% of the UK population — and resulted in increased ad recall and brand visibility.
“It’s fantastic to see the results of this campaign, driving reach, recall and brand visibility with target audiences.”
– Modupe Adeboye, Marketing and Communication Lead, Heathrow Airport
Frontier and Croud: Winner
The gaming market is a crowded place, so targeting the right audience for the release of Jurassic World Evolution was essential. Frontier identified specific user groups, from console gamers to dinosaur lovers, utilised an array of YouTube tools and levied a little help from Hollywood hero Jeff Goldblum. The payoff was 29.7 million completed views by the end of the launch stage and 22,000 sales direct from YouTube.
“The level of detail involved in every part of the campaign — from planning to audience segmentation — was particularly impressive, and we were delighted with the results.”
– Luke Donovan-King, Lead Digital Marketing Manager, Frontier
Littlewoods Ireland and Wolfgang Digital: Winner
Littlewoods Ireland was seeing strong growth in revenue but its bottom line wasn’t enjoying similar improvement. The answer lay in renewing interest in high-profit-driving products like clothing and footwear. Creating an integrated YouTube and Search campaign based on Littlewoods Ireland’s own brand, V by Very, and a new autumn/winter campaign, saw the resulting video content draw over 5.75 million views and a €960k return in revenue on a spend of €60K.
“We set Wolfgang the challenge of maintaining growth trajectory while driving our bottom line. The final result was an unbelievably effective YouTube campaign.”
– Rossa Butler - Marketing & Operations Director, Shop Direct Ireland
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Think Jam and Mindshare: Winner
Deadpool is a character best known for his fourth-wall-breaking humour, something Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment ingeniously utilised to promote the home entertainment release of the latest film in the franchise. In an ‘industry first,’ Deadpool himself interacted directly with the user, delivering bespoke skip and view messages. Viewers who watched the whole trailer were rewarded with an exclusive deleted scene on their next YouTube visit. This mix of creative innovation and technology lead to an uplift of 198% in organic title searches.