Grant helps put Freeport in front of YouTube viewers

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FREEPORT — A local tourism and business promotion group has received a state grant to market the town on YouTube.

Freeport USA, which works with local businesses to promote Freeport as a travel destination, received $10,000 from the Maine Office of Tourism. The grant was matched 100 percent by the organization.

The state has been awarding “enterprise marketing grants” since 2014 “to support the tourism-related projects of smaller organizations with funding that can help them grow or launch new initiatives.” The grants, which range from $2,500 to $10,000, are awarded biannually; 12 organizations received awards  Jan. 1.

Kelly Edwards, executive director of Freeport USA, said the money will be used to create ads that will run as lead-ins to YouTube videos. 

“I think YouTube provides a great way to make sure the audience you want to be reaching is the one being reached,” she said.

The organization has been working with Portland-based production company Herman Mantis since last year to make YouTube videos about Freeport and what the town offers. The YouTube ads, which Herman Mantis will also create, will pull content from the videos.

“We’re really thrilled to be able to continue working with them,” Edwards said.

According to Edwards, $16,000 will go toward making the ads and $4,000 will be used to make three more videos. The three videos will be about Freeport’s outdoor winter activities, outdoor outfitters and lodging.

The YouTube ads will run with videos played in the Boston area. Edwards said Freeport USA is trying to attract tourists from greater Boston, as well the rest of  New England and eastern Canada. She said the organization is trying to align its audience with the Maine Office of Tourism’s target.

Carolann Ouellette, the director of the Office of Tourism, said Freeport USA was awarded a grant because the idea for YouTube ads was similar to ideas the state had for marketing.

“The project aligns well with our campaign’s creative strategy,” Ouellette said.

Ouellette said playing the ads before YouTube videos will also be a great way to attract more young people to Maine. Edwards said Freeport USA wants to attract tourists of all ages, and YouTube wasn’t initially considered for that reason.

“That was a benefit that the Office of Tourism saw that we hadn’t been focusing on, but I think it’s a great idea,” Edwards said.

Ultimately, she said, Freeport USA chose YouTube as a platform for financial reasons.

“After reviewing our options, it seemed like the most economically feasible option,” Edwards said.

Until now, Freeport USA has only done print and radio advertising.

“It seemed like a great way to expand our advertising,” Edwards said.

The ads will run from March to June, and Freeport USA will report back to the Office of Tourism on how successful they are. Edwards said the organization will track how many times people click through to Freeport USA’s website from the video ads and how many times the ads are viewed in full.

Edwards said she’s excited about creating the ads and seeing the effect they’ll have on Freeport’s tourism industry.

“We’re really looking forward to this project and using new mediums for our initiatives,” she said.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.