For every advertiser, TV ads provide unparalleled reach, recall-ability as high as 60%, trustworthiness and, as we discussed in the previous article, a proven “kicker effect,” driving digital activity. For non-profits, struggling to effectively reach donors that span the demographic spectrum, TV is the one channel that reaches them all.
While I can share stats with you (check out my last article for a plethora of them!), let’s look at some practical, real-world best practices for non-profits that want to leverage and optimize TV advertising. For this article, I asked Richard Slater, Business Director at M.i. Media, for his take as well. Having worked with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) and ActionAid, among others, Richard and the team at M.i. Media are experts on how non-profits can get the most out of advertising efforts.
Optimize TV for Donor Viewing Habits
TV is still the biggest channel for acquisition globally – and charities spend an awful lot on it. And the more they spend with TV, the more challenges can arise.
According to Richard, “More and more charities are using TV, so standing out in a crowded space can be difficult. While the medium provides mass reach, and can significantly impact donation volumes, it doesn’t guarantee automatic success. When a client starts with TV, we work with them to get a deeper understanding of their audience and optimize TV by network, day, daypart, program, genre, etc., to maximize response and bring cost-per-acquisition (CPA) down as far as possible.”
Who are your typical donors? Are they Boomers and/or retirees? Millennials that live in urban areas? Gen X-ers who have full time jobs? Or, more realistically, a mix of people? Understanding their viewing habits – time spent per day with TV, popular time slots, programs, networks, etc. – is crucial. While some of this information can be found with good-old-fashioned research, the best way to get an ad in front of the right people (in places and times they’re most likely to respond) is through continuously measuring campaign response and making in-flight changes to improve performance.
It’s important to understand that this is a continuous process, a cycle where the advertiser is always getting smarter and keeping up with (or staying ahead of) constantly evolving viewing trends.
Emotions Work, but Tread Lightly
According to Nielsen, the average person is exposed to 5,000 ads a day. To stand out and make a connection, non-profits have pioneered emotion-driven TV ads.
When done right, these are highly effective. One study found ads that evoked emotional responses generated a 23% lift in sales. Science even backs this up; a neuroscience report showed that emotion-driven content was twice as effective as rational content. What better way for a non-profit to tap into emotions of TV viewers, hopefully, triggering impulsive responses that will have them act quickly?
Here’s the catch, there’s always a catch: emotion-driven ads are not easy to create. If done wrong, they can blow up for a brand. That’s why it’s extremely important for charities to understand not only their audiences’ viewing habits, but also the values, issues, pain points and goals that drive them. This way, the messaging will resonate. Creative testing is also an excellent way to gauge the effectiveness of these type of ads – measuring and optimizing before going out with a full-fledged campaign.
Nearly 90% of TV viewers watch with second-screen devices nearby. These are active-participation viewers who immediately engage with brands they find interesting. While TV provides great awareness, does it really matter if no action is generated from the ad? That’s why strong, in-your-face calls-to-action are necessary.
I saw great examples of this during 2016’s Giving Tuesday season. In order to compete with thousands of TV advertisers during the holiday season, and grab the attention of donors, the mobile calls-to-action were strong. And, it appears to have worked, as $47.7 million in Giving Tuesday donations were made online in the U.S., up from 20% in 2015. New York Cares urged viewers to text “COAT” to 41444; even the Giving Tuesday organization advertised on TV for the first time!
Yes, a toll-free number is great, but there should also be a mobile action front and center to take advantage of the mobile mind-shift among donors. Tell viewers to visit your website now, download an app to learn more, text to donate today, etc. Your consumers are “in the moment,” make sure to engage via their preferred model of communication.
For Online Response, Consider the Ask Levels
Are you not seeing much response with TV? Perhaps the answer, apart from the optimization mentioned above, is simply asking for more.
Richard noted that TV is often more effective, especially with TV-to-web response, for charities that go out with higher ask levels for both one-time and recurring donations. Naturally, a donor who may spend more money with a charity will conduct more online research. For these higher-ask charities, Richard has seen up to 50% of donations coming through online after TV campaigns.
Don’t Forget Offline
For those non-profits that have smaller ask amounts, offline channels, especially SMS, provide appealing, easy options for donors. What’s simpler than sending a few dollars via text? Most TV viewers have a smartphone in their hands; the transaction can be done in less than a minute.
In reality, offline response is still a huge avenue for donations among non-profits of all shapes, sizes and ask levels. Call centers, traditional mail and even events provide ample opportunities for fundraising. But non-profits must understand that offline does not mean unmeasurable. In fact, most offline response can be measured just as accurately and quickly as online counterparts.
Consistently measuring TV’s impact on offline channels helps inform future creatives, planning and buying. When combined with insights from online measurement, non-profits get a holistic view of how TV impacts every donor touchpoint, how different channels influence and interact with each other and how the path-to-donation looks in the real world.
As Richard put it, non-profits should not rely on “gut feel” anymore when it comes to TV advertising. The opportunities are too great, and the space is too crowded to not base every TV decision on data-backed insights. Success comes from constant measurement and improvement of TV ad efforts.