International charity Christian Aid exceeded its donations goal by 25% after delivering a targeted digital campaign to promote Christian Aid Week in May.
The campaign, which was planned and bought by digital agency Agenda 21, was seen by 18m unique users, which the charity’s digital engagement officer Zoe van der Linden said was down to better digital planning and continual optimisation.
She said, “We had a much better plan online this year because we started earlier and did more analysis around who we should be targeting. We also ran the campaign for longer which meant we could learn more and continually optimise it.”
A range of ads using different display formats featured images of poverty-stricken children, which linked through to the Christian Aid website where users could watch videos, download information about fundraising activities and make a donation.
The campaign featured on sites like The Guardian and combined data and media from Quantcast and Tribal Fusion, with real time advertising bought through MediaMath.
Van der Linden said, “We were able to stretch our budget further while reaching a wider audience, and especially those people which were most likely to donate.”
Previously, advertising tended to be done in two week burst, but this campaign ran for six weeks - during Christian Aid Week itself as well as before and after, allowing the charity to collect more data and gain a much better understanding of what works.
Pete Robins, Agenda 21 managing partner, said targeting, retargeting and real time bidding (RTB) were key to the success of the campaign as it was able to optimise and refine media choices to increase investment on the best performing networks.
He said it was also important to test and optimise different creatives, formats and copy, where ads were displayed on the page, and even the colour.
“We made micro tweaks,” he said, “which is indicative of what you need to do when you run a digital media campaign across a number of different partners. The thing that made the biggest difference was knowing that we were going to continually optimise the campaign from the beginning.
“You can’t optimise a campaign half way through if you haven’t set up the tracking… If you know there are going to be things you can’t plan for you have to track it so you can react. The data piece is crucial.”
Christian Aid and Agenda 21 will take what they have learnt from this campaign and apply it to future projects, the next of which will be to promote its virtual giving product Present Aid at Christmas, although Robins said there is no guarantee that exactly the same approach will work next time so it will continue to collect data, monitor and optimise.
He said, “We’ll watch what happens and can match budgets to different formats, messages, targeting and price points, if the data proves that it’s more effective. So it can get quite complex, but if you know what the key criteria is that you need to hit – which in this case is donations and return on investment – you’ve got an end to end suite of data to optimise against.”