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Heineken Exec Says Facebook Now Rivals YouTube for Video Ads

Newsfeed ads reached 35 million users in three days

Neil Patrick Harris' clips work via social media too.

Nine months after Facebook debuted auto-play video ads, one major brand utilizing them is willing to put the social media platform on par with YouTube when it comes to video ad performance.

"YouTube and Facebook are equal players now, or at least close to it," Ron Amram, senior media director of marketing, Heineken USA, told Adweek. "What we're finding is that we have to consider Facebook as the key video partner going forward because not only does it have the reach but the effectiveness."

Here's why he's bullish on Facebook's nascent promos: While pushing Heineken Light to 21 to 34 year olds in the United States in October, the brand's digital spots—in three days—were exposed to the newfeeds of 35 million Facebook users, producing 5.5 million views, according to Amram. That means 16 percent of the people reached watched the spot.

"This is the first time we've looked at [Facebook] as part of our digital video strategy overall," he said. "It complements television very well but also goes beyond it."

To Amram's last point, the 15-second auto-play ads featured the same Neil Patrick Harris work from Wieden + Kennedy that broke on TV in July. One minute and 48-second commercials were also pushed on the platform.

"Putting it on Facebook re-accelerated it for us," Amram said. "August and September were good, but October was even better."

The marketing executive didn't reveal how much Heineken Light spent on the social videos, but said the cost-per-view rate made for a good return on the brand's investment. "Facebook over-delivered on what we anticipated," he said.

Additionally, he had postive data when it came to still promos on Facebook. Amram said sister brand Dos Equis got a $3.35 back for every dollar spent during the weeks leading up to Cinco de Mayo last spring, which helped the brand lift sales by 6.6 percent year over year.

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