The amount of children who went missing in the UK in 2015 could fill Wembley Stadium – twice.

This is just one shocking statistic cited by Ross Miller, Director of Fundraising and Communications at Missing People.

Speaking today at Get with the Programmatic, he described how the charity has been using out of home advertising to drive its message and improve public response.

Here’s a quick summary of what he said:

The challenge for small charities

Four years ago, the biggest challenge faced by Missing People was a limited amount of resources – and a distinct absence of marketing budget.

Consequently, Ross attempted to find a solution to the problem by turning to the out-of-home advertising industry to help.

Starting small, the charity began by using a handful of sites alongside print to drive OOH appeals. But with unprecedented support from media owners, that began to change.

So, instead of delivering just one blanket appeal per week, Missing People now uses programmatic OOH to execute multiple and location-specific appeals each and every day.

Over the past four years, Missing People’s partnership with OOH has grown substantially and today, it is the official charity of the OOH industry and receives advertising inventory worth approximately £10m. 

Going from print to digital

Programmatic has helped to maximise OOH response rates and ultimately increase the number of families the charity is able to help.

Essentially, the use of programmatic OOH means that the charity can better target those who might otherwise miss or disregard a print appeal. 

Based upon the notion that most people are more likely to respond to a message that is relevant to the area in which they live, it uses digital technology and data to make appeals location-specific (and therefore more meaningful).

The technology also allows for ads to be nimble, changing creative quickly once people are reported as found.

Switching to programmatic OOH led to response rates (information on particular missing people as a result of the ads) rising from 50% to 70%.

Child Rescue Alert 

Furthering Missing People’s use of programmatic, the charity recently launched its Child Rescue Alert system. Based on Amber Alert from the US, it is an emergency response system that sends out messages as soon as somebody goes missing. 

Reliant on both the public signing up to the system as well as companies broadcasting alerts – the charity decided to run a two-week campaign in order to spread the word. 

Promoting how its Child Rescue Alert system can turn everyday people into heroes, it was designed to encourage sign-ups and provoke immediate action.

As part of the campaign, real-time data from TFL was used to target commuters at Waterloo, based on their journey home. Displaying dynamic and locally relevant information, each message was highly targeted to the passing audience.

As well as this, the campaign utilised real-time sign-up data in order to target locations where signup was low and more effort could be dedicated.

ooh missing people

The results of OOH programmatic

In just one month, 44,000 people responded to Missing People’s Child Rescue Alert OOH programmatic campaign.  This compares to just 10,000 people who responded to a concurrent print and PR appeal.

The results speak for themselves, however in his talk today, Ross spoke about how using programmatic is not always easy. 

Specifically, he highlighted the importance of putting internal processes to one side, as well as placing trust and control in the hands of media owners and creative agencies. It's also the case that obviously not all OOH sites are programmatic ready.

Looking to the future, Ross ended by talking about how the charity is considering using augmented reality technology (such as a tie-in with Pokemon Go) to further spread its message.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 21 September, 2016 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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