A lot has changed. But digital advertisers must carry on, raising money and building supporter lists to meet mission goals. We must accommodate changes in user behavior during COVID, such as the increase in mobile and social platform usage, lower CPMs and more. Our campaigns need to be “sensitive” to our new and fast-changing world. And, then, we need to factor in the election.
It’s a lot. But, we’ve got you covered. We’ll share best practices, tips and new opportunities that will keep your ad campaigns on strategy and, potentially, push you in a new direction. We’ll walk through some successful nonprofit ad campaigns and talk about approaches and strategies that made them work. And, we’ll even share tips for how to work successfully from home!
Today, we’re going to be talking about the three concurrent challenges that we have right now, as we fundraise, as we handle advocacy, all in the vein of digital advertising. I’m sure we’ve all been dealing with a number of challenges, between COVID, between the upcoming election, between end-of-year and the planning that we all need to get doing.
Today we’ll breeze right through this. My name is Chris Earp. I’m the director of advertising at Beaconfire-RED and Allegiance Group. Anne Davis is my co presenter. She’s a senior advertising specialist and we have got a lot to tell you today. A brief agenda at start, we will talk about a user behavior.
What we’ve seen our audiences behave like during these let’s see, we’ve all heard uncertain times challenging times. But certainly we’ve observed a lot of changes in user behavior. That’ll be useful for you all. We’ll go through some technology changes. Google and Facebook mainly have made a lot of updates to their platforms, not only feature wise, but as far as user interface and ad formats, a number of other things. We’ll talk about ad ops from home. If you are either managing vendors or if you are placing your own ads, there are a number of things that’ll help you be more effective from home especially with the cadence of what’s going on right now.
And finally, those three concurrent challenges. We’ve got the pandemic, we’ve got an upcoming presidential election, and we’ve got end-of-year all happening at the same time. So without further ado, I think we can jump right in. The first thing I want to just chit chat about really briefly here is what are people up to? What has changed during this pandemic, during this recession, during the social change that we’ve seen sweeping the country? The first thing we noticed is actually a lot of advertisers initially pulled out of advertising or reduce their budgets verticals that were impacted by the pandemic and the recession. One of the first things to get cut frequently can be advertising, especially for the worst impacted industries. So we saw overall CPM and dynamic CPM come down. So advertising actually became a little more affordable during this period. And some of that is still true.
It’s vertical by vertical. And of course the increased advertising along political lines leading up to the election has changed this in a number of sectors. But we have seen, for example conservation, and even in some cases, healthcare remain a little more affordable. Now, again, 89% of large multinational businesses paused ad campaigns in the first several months of the pandemic.
A lot of those have been turned back on. There’ve been a number of challenges to specific verticals, like for example, housing who haven’t really reentered the market in a big way. So depending on your vertical, it might be a good time to get more impressions for cheaper. Now, remember, people stuck at home, they’re in bed, they are watching video, and so connected TV and OTT,
remember that stands for over the top, meaning it’s going past the set top box straight to like a Hulu type of platform. We’ve seen buys grow. They are 69% year over year. Now I don’t want to claim that this is only because of the pandemic or the recession or the social change or the election. I think this has been growing because it’s enormously powerful.
It’s going to be super relevant in a post-cookie world that Google is moving towards. And we’ll get to that a little bit later. So keep thinking about video as we progress through this webinar, it’s going to be relevant. Now, you may have had this challenge, I think we all have, of watching a commercial or a movie and you see two people hugging or something, and you have this initial instinct to say, “Hey, hey, you’re supposed to be socially distant.”
Well people think of that when they consume ads as well. So imagery of human interaction, declines 27% in ads. This is mainly because stock footage, stock video had not yet caught up to the demand of the marketplace, which in this case is having masked people being socially distant.
Although there have been a number of awesome offerings recently, you can definitely find up-to-date stock images and videos. This initial decline in imagery, I think is starting to level out as that content becomes more available. Now mobile reaches 51% share of display impressions. There are a number of reasons for this, but I will say this has also been a long trend that I think is happening partially, at least independently of these three major things we have going on. And finally, despite issues with Facebook and people pulling out and mishandling of user data and whatever other complaints you might have about the platform, Facebook use increased initially and is steadily increasing again ahead of the election.
So that platform is definitely still relevant and they have made a number of changes that at least partially comply with the demands that have been levied from the public. So a lot of background here moving into what people are doing, and I know Ann is going to kick us off here. Yes. Thanks for that great introduction and background on setting the scene of what we’re going to talk about and what’s been going on. We do want to talk about some easy behavior observations and data that we found from our clients and trends across the web. More people at home means more people online, and this isn’t something new, but it’s something that was a really valuable trend upwards that the July advertisers can use to leverage during times like this. So people are turning to their concerns into acts of care and they’re rapidly embracing digital little connection. So like Chris said, 11% increase in Facebook usage. We also saw the total impressions just across the board and the average click through rate increase, in search specifically across nearly all industries.
This chart on the right shows that increase. So you can see across Google and Bing, that average number of total impressions has just increased greatly because of people being online and, using the internet much more than they used to. On Facebook, the average cost per click was actually cut in half from December to March.
Those numbers are getting back to near normal levels again, but just shows how something, some external factor like the pandemic can really impact prices online and actually make it even less expensive for organizations to advertise. And of course, I’m sure that we’ve heard this, but on Facebook more than 65 million dollars has been raised for COVID-19 related efforts.
However, more than half of those gifts were less than $25. So, while this is the trend that we’ll call out later on as well, that while we’re seeing the people really being driven to give, they’re, not giving as much. And while that may have to do with some economic factors, but an important thing, as well is just to think differently about the messaging and the creative that you’re putting out to your supporters, to continue to capitalize on the time engagement while still remaining and remaining sensitive. We’ve seen some great content come out from organizations like educational content to share with families, free webinars and live streams. That sort of thing.
Just continue to engage while people are there to listen. Absolutely people are online and engaging with content. So, increased use of video, increased use of really engaging ad formats encouraging people to comment and talk, helping them feel less lonely, I think is a really successful tactic.
And the other thing is just really briefly to touch on it. We are seeing a larger number of gifts, but a lower dollar value per gift. And so I think it’s really helpful also to try to be as conscious as you can in your copy using language. Like, “if you’re, able, consider making a donation”, et cetera people are sensitive right now and it’s a challenging time also for people who are consuming news through social. I think it’s a really scary time. So making sure that we don’t stress our file out even with how important all of these issues are, the social change, the election, all of that stuff. Just keeping a close eye on what people are saying. Social listening.
We’ll get to that a little bit later. All of this increased engagement is great for lead gen too. Yeah, definitely. This has been a great time to grow your list if you hadn’t felt comfortable fundraising at the start of the pandemic, or you’re just looking for ways to kind of stack your file ahead of the election and the uncertainties ahead. For our clients, we saw the average cost per lead actually decreased by about 15 to 22% from January to May. So that middle section really is when that pandemic hit. And that was a result of the average cost per thousand impressions decreasing by a pretty large amount, 20 to 40% during that time as well.
So, it was just a great time to, stay present online. If you’re not asking for donations, you still want to be engaging, still actively trying to reach people, grow your membership and just remain consistent and don’t say nothing at all. It’s better to at least have something out there and kind of a great way to pivot if you’re thinking that your fundraising efforts are maybe a little softer than you expect. Absolutely. Another brief note about lead generation is that’s a great back foot to pivot onto if you’re new donor prospecting is having trouble. That way you’re still reaching new people, you’re still introducing people to your welcome series that can become more loyal to your organization as they are more engaged than they’ve ever been before because of quarantine. So there are definitely some benefits it’s too pushing lead generation. Now in that same vein, I think we’ve seen some benefits to our advocacy causes as well.
Yeah, exactly. And like advocacy and lead generation, kind of go hand in hand. If your organization does have any advocacy actions or things that you know were still happening alongside what’s in the news and in the going on with the pandemic, this is a great way to engage with members, to acquire new members, and it just continues to drive home that you’re still working on your mission, whatever that may be. And some great audiences that we found for ads like this are actually to retarget your inactive members. So if there’s someone that’s been on your file for a year or so, and they haven’t opened an email, whatever that inactive metric is for your organization.
Hitting them with a Facebook ad is a great way to connect with them on a different channel. And when you’re using an advocacy action like this, it reminds them that you’re still doing this great work or reminds them of why they signed up to support your organization in the first place. And then also of course, just to acquire new supporters.
It’s a step up from just general lead gen. This is a great way, if you’re able to, leverage this sort of messaging during a time like this. Absolutely. The other thing about this messaging is that if you take a look at the ad. It’s very narrative. It’s very journalistic. It’s very bringing you current information about the mission.
And I will say about this bird in particular, the sage grouse is a wild looking bird. So, if, you’ve got a captivating picture to bring with it, obviously that’s going to help with the prominence of your ad. The other things that people are obsessed with these days is video of course. It makes sense.
It’s been a rising trend for the last five years. Video has been changing dramatically and as people are stuck at home, either not able to hang out with friends or do what they usually do, they are watching video. Now I’ve got this hobby horse that if you’ve attended one of these webinars before, you’ll hear me talk about over and over and I’m not done with it just yet.
Relevance and prominence. These are the two most important factors in my mind for advertising. An ad needs to be relevant, which means that, your targeting has to be right. I could be served the best baby food ad in the world, and unless I have babies or I’m planning to have babies, it’s just not relevant enough for me to make a purchase.
Now it’s got to be prominent as well. It’s got to be somewhere where I can see it. It’s got to be pretty and engaging. And there are a few things to consider as far as delivering video from the relevance and the prominence perspective. The first thing I want to note is just that metric at the top, there. Just YouTube surged 15.3% since COVID. People are seeking helpful and uplifting content and they’re willing to engage with new content.
And so when you start to consider the relevance of the ad, you might consider three main things. The first is contextual. Where are you serving this video? Now, if you’re choosing to serve it through a programmatic means, you might easily choose to serve it on somebody, let’s say if you were serving a conservation ad, you might serve it to somebody who’s browsing relevant content on country.com or any number of other consumer websites facing sort of conservation focused people. If it’s on Facebook, obviously you’ll want to make sure your targeting is all set up. And if it’s on YouTube, you might consider what sort of targeting or similar videos you might select when you’re putting together the campaign. So just like any other ad, the targeting is crucial and the prominence is crucial as well. You can accidentally place video ads in places where they never get seen or in bad placements, tiny little videos that auto-play when you’re on a mobile app or new site or something like that.
So video is almost even more important to place correctly, than static images are mainly because the video is all you’ve got. It’s your text, it’s your image. It’s the whole thrust of what you’re trying to communicate. And if it’s not up front and center so that someone can easily view the content and engage with it, it’ll fail. I just want to call out two main things here. The first is that story placements are awesome. So designing vertical video to leverage across Instagram and Facebook stories is a great idea. It tends to garner all kinds of engagement and shares. We’ve seen great success with that.
And we’ll get to it later, but I love the idea of driving brand awareness with something like over the top video or programmatic video delivery, especially either leading up to or during end-of-year. But suffice to say that using video, if you have it, is a great idea right now because people are more engaged with that kind of content than ever.
Now, I just want to drive the point home here by telling you all that we were able to deliver an almost 10 minute long video about the history of the affordable care act on Facebook and YouTube. And we got some pretty astounding results. Now we had a smaller testing budget, $2,500 all in. And the $500 we spent on YouTube definitely drove the most engagement.
We had 4,423 people watch the whole video. And not only that, but they’re sharing, they’re liking. And so on Facebook, those came at a higher cost. The user paradigm makes sense on YouTube. People are there to watch videos. So it’s not a big ask to say, “if you’re interested in healthcare, you might like this,” but on Facebook, people are commenting, chatting, looking for events.
Their attention span is sometimes a little more fractured, and, we still managed to get out at about a dollar of view, 95 to 100% completion. We had 2,103 people watch the videos, which is pretty amazing. Now I will say overall you may choose to deliver an ad on Facebook rather than on YouTube for a number of reasons.
The first is that in some cases it might be the easiest way to integrate it into your ad flow. If you don’t already have YouTube ads set up or you’re unfamiliar, unexperienced, Facebook makes it really easy to put a video in market. The other thing that’s beneficial about using Facebook is that you can use anchors.
I like those videos to create re-engagement audiences. So you might say anybody who watched a hundred percent of this video ad that we delivered before is now a great candidate for this fundraising ask or advocacy action. And so there’s a couple of convenient elements to Facebook, but if your goal is to get a bunch of people that watch the whole video, make sure you have some clever targeting and chances are that your views at a hundred percent will be cheaper on YouTube than on Facebook.
We’re going to pivot to fundraising now. And Anne is a big fan of, if you don’t ask, people won’t give. It’s something we discovered when there were a lot of advertisers thinking about pulling out completely at the beginning of COVID and then later on, there was a little bubble up with Facebook where people were walking back, obviously with, in my opinion, pretty good cause. And so, what we learned is really just that you need to get out there and ask. There are still people who want to donate. There are still people who are really involved in your cause and your mission, and there’s ways to target those people. Now, obviously from a brand safety consideration, if it’s something where you feel your organization could not ethically continue to serve ads or fundraise based on a particular day or situation, by all means brand safety trumps the idea of maximizing fundraising during a difficult time of year. But one thing we have seen continue to succeed is new donor prospects. So what we’re doing is as part of our fundraising efforts, we’re looking ahead and understanding that there might be some increased uncertainty.
Either the economy could get worse or the outcome of the election could be a really challenging for the country. We could also see, for example, a resurgence of COVID maybe making it worse than it was initially. And so when we see uncertainty ahead, we want to stack the file. We want to get great new digital donors on there who prove their worth with a first gift at a nice high value who are willing to donate again.
And if that doesn’t work, sometimes we’ll pivot to lead generation hoping that we can surface the most likely donors through a welcome series or something like that. So here’s a little bit of advice just as far as new donor prospecting. The first is keep pushing SEM. I think every brand should be buying 100% of the search volume for their name.
And it’s not only because that gives you greater control about how people engage with your brand, but it’s also because up to 70% in our experience of those donors, those SEM-branded donors can be either new-to-file or new-to-digital. So getting a really good handle on how much of your SEM spend is currently recruiting new donors if you haven’t yet, is a really good idea just so you can get a handle on that data. It’s also totally worth going out in Facebook and using lookalike audiences, using demographic and interest targeting potentially informed by a third-party data buy. That can be a great idea, especially as Facebook has rolled back the data that they share for targeting.
We’ll talk more about that later. And just overall when we see something like a lower average gift, in this case, 23.7% lower, but more gifts, in this case 27% more, it’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you might recruit more donors at a lower average gift, which is great because you can still up-level them through communications and emails, further ads, things like that.
On the other hand, your return on ad spend is going to decrease a little bit. Now, typically we don’t see a hundred percent or more than a hundred percent return on ad spend for new donors. That’s new donors paying for themselves. Although we definitely have seen it happen. We’ve seen it happen during end-of-year.
Just be aware that you may need to accept a lower overall return on ad spend for your new donor prospecting efforts.
Yeah. And one thing that we noticed as well during the beginning of the pandemic was that clients were focusing on sustainer asks were really successful. And the strategy behind this was essentially, there’s a lot of unknowns ahead. We don’t really know what’s going to happen. Will there be a recession?
Will there be additional factors? This was a discussion that we had in early April. And so we were seeing that our sustainer Facebook campaigns were focused on getting new monthly donors was still performing well, even throughout the heat of the pandemic. We adjusted the messaging to be a little more sensitive for some ads kind of tested that against our original messaging.
But what we found is that we still had huge success in bringing in new sustainers even during this time. And it was just a really important, I think, pivot in our tactics and we really push additional budget to this because we saw it working because again, there’s so many uncertainties that if you do see something working, then it’s important to double down on it, if you can.
And so through this Facebook ad and this campaign that we have been running ongoing, our average cost per new sustainer was actually just $88, which is incredible considering the lifetime value of most sustainers. So, just a tactic to think about as you’re looking at your own organization.
And just something to always remember that if you can grow that sustainer base get that revenue in early so that you can be prepared for whatever happens in the coming months. Totally. And I want to call out that Anne has cleverly shown us the true CPA of $88 and has also showed us the CPA, including assisted conversion.
So, those view through conversions are always good to report on because it gives you a good idea of how all of your channels are working together. Somebody may have seen a Facebook ad and later converted through search or some other pathway like that. This is a great picture of what your CPA looks like, accounting for more than just its source channel.
Yeah, thank you for that call out Chris. I missed that. But definitely important to look at both those attribution metrics to see the direct result and then how your ads are affecting your overall program. Another tactic that we’ve seen work well that we recommend continuing and fundraising from your existing files.
So keep asking your existing supporters for gifts. They support you for a reason, right? You just want to make sure that ask is still relevant to your mission and to ask during the right time. So, consider popping ads during sensitive moments. For example, we pause almost all of our clients campaigns during Blackout Tuesday, which was a super last minute holiday.
Again, if there’s any other future days like that, we recommend kind of thinking about if it’s an appropriate time to go after money or push out your message, or if it’s the time to stay silent. Election day could be one that you may want to consider depending on discussions that you have with your team.
And then finally just supporting your email campaigns with Facebook ads. Facebook’s really great because you can just upload a CRM list and then retarget those people using Facebook Ads. So they’re really successful with when you have a big email appeal going out. Then you can also hit those folks on Facebook.
And it’s really donation form abandoners to people who may be click through to the email thought about giving, and then never gave. You can retarget them with an ad on Facebook. And same with lapsed donors, and non-donors are they’re most likely people who may not be super active on your files. So, being able to reach them on another channel is something that Facebook is really helpful with.
Absolutely never forget about Facebook as a communication tool. Reactivating lapsed is a great, great way to use Facebook ads. Now speaking of Facebook, there have been a number of important changes to that platform. Okay, so we can go through these pretty quickly, but a couple changes. Facebook announced back in June,
viewers will be allowed, to within their preferences and their settings in Facebook, actually turn off if they want to be served ads that include that “Paid for by” disclaimers. So that includes, quite a few ads, any issues about politics, the elections. So a lot of organizations are required to include that disclaimer if they want to run ads. So just something to keep an eye on what this may mean for organizations is a lower visibility of your ads, which could lead to higher CPMs and smaller audiences, and then just general less trust in ad featuring that “Paid for by” disclaimer.
We haven’t seen too many people adopting this option for themselves. And what that means is that we haven’t seen ramifications yet in our advertising metrics about people choosing not to receive those kinds of ads. But should we see a great increase that’s impacting engagement metrics, CPM, that kind of thing, it may be time to diversify. So there are other ways to reach people with similar technology to Facebook, including the Google Display Network and a number of other options. There’s still Twitter for social. And so definitely staying agile is something that’s always useful when it comes to your media mix. So, there are a number of updates to Facebook’s platform.
The first is they’ve got cross account reporting now, which is really, really useful, mainly for advertisers, but in case you have a number of different Facebook Ad accounts, which can be a good idea. For example, if you have a number of budgets, you’ve got your marketing budget here, you’ve got your advocacy budget here, you got your fundraising budget here. Having a separate Ad account for each one can be helpful. And now Facebook has introduced a way to report cross all of them to pull metrics from a number of ad accounts for benchmarking reasons to see trends across all of your ads. So this is a super useful new tool if you fall into that category. Now, this is what it looks like. Just a neat little screenshot of all the way that your data can aggregate. So now budget optimization is required. So just another update, Facebook has options for budget optimizations. You can optimize your budget. So you have one budget, and then Facebook will actually determine within the ad sets in that campaign, how it decides to split up.
This is a semi new feature it’s been around for about a year or so now. you will no longer be able to operate your budget at the ad set level. But the one thing to consider, if you are still optimizing your campaign at the ad set level, Is that you won’t have as much control over the amount of money going into each audience, but there are some controls that you can use with each ad set to set maximum budgets or minimum budgets. And if you haven’t tested this it’s I think a good time to begin testing now, as it will most likely be the only option in the near future. So Facebook is beta testing and email marketing tool.
So just be advised, this new tool might be able to integrate in interesting ways. So you might be able to send messages to an uploaded CRM list that you own, but not to ones that you don’t already owned. So a CRM list would be a list of the email constituents that you’ve already got. You would not be able to message people who didn’t already volunteer their email address to you.
And those emails would come from Facebook in this case. So definitely something to watch. I love the idea of any native tech that integrates with a platform already. We all know how nice it is that Google Analytics and Google Ads play together. And so just having more and more tools in a more diverse toolkit, especially per platform and with a big important one, like Facebook is always something to look forward to.
Now again, just one other thing to note, Facebook is planning to limit the number of ads that a given page can run at the same time. It’s not going to happen until 2021, but if you are managing a ton of ads for a single page at this moment, you may want to look into these two tools. One is called the Facebook Ad Volume API, and that’s going to be able to let you know if you’re going to run up against any of these delivery constraints they might be putting on ads. And the other is the Learning Phase API which will be able to give you greater insight into the learning phase, which essentially is Facebook’s machine learning, looking at all your ads, seeing how audiences are reacting and determining the best delivery for those ads. And so again, this is delayed until 2021. And the idea of considering another big change right now with everything going on might be a little much. So without further ado, I want to talk a bit about the new Blueprint courses that we have. Continuing ed is always a great idea and Facebook is always adding to its course library.
These are super easy, super effective ways to get a handle on Facebook’s new tools and existing tools. So if you’ve got a team who wants to skill build a little bit in Facebook, it’s all free. All you’ve got to do is Google Facebook Blueprint. And they’ve just introduced a number of new courses that I recommend having a look at.
You can see them pictured there on the right. Now Google. So Google has made a number of changes. The first is that woo hoo. It’s easier to get a Grant. So, anybody who’s gone through the process of securing and ramping up a Google Grant will know how difficult it was, but Google has got a new process by which they’re going to make the account for you and activate it.
So you don’t have to go through that tricky process of making an Ads account, but not entering billing information and hoping the stars are aligned for you. And so if your organization is eligible and you don’t have a Grant, you definitely should get one. A Grant is basically Google allowing you to serve ads against unused search inventory. You’re getting basically $330 a day or so in free ad spend on their platform. Google Grant cannot compete with paid ads. So it’s really something that’s usually less used for fundraising, but depending on the search volume can still be a super useful tool.
So there are a couple other updates that I wanted to wrap up here and do a quick punch list. The first thing that you should know is that you can now use Maximize Conversions and Maximize Conversion Value as portfolio bid strategies, which means that you can wrap a budget and a number of other campaigns into a single sort of delivery mechanism using those two awesome automated bidding strategies.
Finally, Google Ads Editor has also been updated to include budget, shared budgets and optimization score, which is really useful. You will also be able to see how change history has impacted ad performance. Change history is a great place to look just for a trend. If you see an account that’s having a little bit of trouble, or if you’re managing your own Google Grant for instance, you can see which changes had which impacts recently.
So if you’re testing a new campaign or you see delivery go down, you can get a good insight into that with more detail than ever in the change history. Now, overall I think that we should be aware that the Standard improved delivery is pretty much the only kind of delivery we can get now.
Basically that means we can’t use Accelerated delivery anymore. Accelerated was a really great way to do a quick sprint, own a bunch of search volume for a really crucial time of year or day. So if you’ve been using Accelerated delivery in the past for tentpole campaigns, or for end-of-year, it’s not going to be optioned this time around. Finally, Google’s made it a little easier to share remarketing lists across accounts.
And so again, if you have a different Ad account for each department or you’re managing multiple ad accounts, this is really helpful because you might be sharing remarketing lists or CRM lists across those entities. Now you probably have started to hear about this. And Google is rolling this out in phases.
It’s identity verification in the same way that Facebook has it. They want to make sure that you are who you are and that you’re eligible to run ads that might be about sensitive issues or elections. This screenshot on the right shows, just what that looks like. Essentially a user will be able to hover over an ad and see the name of who put it together, where they are. So, a super pack, for example, might not be able to buy an ad and pretend to be an entity that it’s not. It’s really easy. You’ll receive an account notification or email. And what you want to do is find a tax form like a W-9, for example, that has your organization’s address and your EIN or TIN.
And then you’ll need somebody who is part of your organization, not on the vendor side, to get added to the Ad account and complete this verification by filling out the form. We have seen some users be required to do this, others not. Like for Facebook, you might actually have to send information about your passport or your ID to Google.
That’s specifically in cases of election advertising, but we’ve seen it happen in more cases than just that. So be aware. Finally Google has released a number of COVID 19 resources, as well as additional funding in Google Grants for relevant organizations who are helping either to provide important information about COVID or otherwise mitigate the spread.
So, along side that additional funding for those grants, we have seen this specific list of tools. One is to address market volatility. We can actually dig into that a little bit more. Essentially. This is a help center, which you can easily find by Googling Google Ads COVID-19 resources. And there are a few helpful guides on how you can either get a better picture of how COVID has impacted your situation, or just get to know Google’s tools better.
One thing that you can always do is use Google Trends. If you want to see how search volume has changed either related to COVID or just in, in recent times based on your messaging, or advertising, you can enter a number of search terms in Google Trends and see the changes in search volume or even which search terms are more popular than others.
I mentioned this partially because this is going to be a useful tool for you during end-of-year to evaluate if you’re able to affect some kind of brand lift. Obviously you’ll see an increase in branded search terms and things like that, if you’re actually in your SEM account. But Google Trends is a tool that everybody can use, and it can be really interesting to understand not only search terms, but where they’re most popularly searched for. We’ve got local conditions, so it’ll show a heat map and say something like, people are really concerned about deforestation in Oregon more than they are in some other places. And that can help with your targeting and better understanding your audiences. I don’t want to spend too long on this, but Google does have a tool to help you manage market volatility, understanding these drastic swings and search volume and advertising competition even.
They’ve released a number of tools to help you either run diagnostics and look at your own account history or even adjust your targeted Smart Bidding across your campaigns to make sure that your budget is being delivered consistently and in the right way. So I also want to touch briefly on how to do all of this stuff from home.
It’s really tricky, sometimes not being a next to your team and all in the same place. And there’s also been a large number of swells in advertising and then pauses, when people pull out from Facebook or pause budgets for whatever reason, and it gives you occasionally the opportunity to recertify. If your team deals with ads a lot, either in placing them or in managing vendors who placed them, there are a lot of great tools that will help you get more familiar with that technology.
Google has its own number of courses that you can take certifications through their Academy. And Facebook has those Blueprint quizzes and courses that I mentioned before. They are simple and I think this list will really cover you approaching end-of-year. If you’re either new to the space, what a time to join.
Let me welcome you. When it’s end-of-year a pandemic and a presidential election, these, courses are going to give you a great fundamental understanding of the technology and how we use it. So, Google Ads, Search Display, Video, and Measurement. This is going to give you a total picture of how Google self-serve platform works and how to measure results.
Facebook. If you get marketing associate marketing science professional and creative professional, that’s going to give you a nice, diverse picture of Facebook, mainly because you want to know how to deliver the ads. Marketing associate, you want to understand the science of measurement and how the market changes and what each metric means, so, marketing science professional. And finally creative is really important in Facebook because people are constantly barraged by all these different images, videos. And how do you stand out? So being a pro, when it comes to Facebook, creative, knowing what to look for, knowing what to avoid is really important.
And while we’re touching on that point, I think it’s important to note that we’ve heard some rumors recently that Facebook might be scaling back its 20% text over the image rule. You might be familiar, but basically if you’ve got a picture that you want to serve as a Facebook ad, text can take up no more than 20% of that image.
And we have heard murmurings from Facebook that they will be slowly phasing that out, giving us even more opportunity to include text and other kinds of messaging in our pictures that we’re serving. Other than using them solely to present some sort of visual image. Yeah. Now, when everybody’s at home, it’s really important that you get serious about security.
When you’re in an office there are a lot of advantages as far as access control. But when you’re working from home, using something like LastPass, being very conscious of your password, being conscious of your network is really important. You want to make sure that you know, who has access to each platform, particularly if your organization has experienced some sort of restructuring or you’ve switched vendors, making sure there are no legacy people added to your Ad accounts is really important.
The second is that you should own your own account. I hear countless stories of non-profits who use vendors who say, we’ll create an account for you. And then when it’s time to move in another direction, they’re not able to transfer ownership of that Ad account to the nonprofit they were working for the association.
And that means that that entity loses all of the historical data in the platform. Now it’s possible to export all that data and send it along in a huge indecipherable Excel document. But the answer is really that you want to own your own account. You want to be the administrative owner of your Facebook Ad account, your Google Ad account, your Google Grant, all of that stuff.
So now’s a great time as you’re thinking about security. To think about ownership. You should also consider increasing the amount of in-account automation you’re using. Automation is a really great way to stay ahead of things.
If your team has been scaled down or if you’re struggling working from home and you need a little bit of help just organizing your ads. Automation is great. You can set rules in Facebook and Google to do things like shut ads off below a certain return on ad spend threshold.
You can program ads to start and then cease delivering, so you don’t have to do that manually. There are a number of awesome tools and if you ever start to use more of these rules and automation, I want to suggest that you create a document in a shared environment, so they’re not forgotten. You should have a good naming convention, for example.
And you should make sure that if the power goes out and you can’t access any of your information, that somebody else will be able to jump in and understand the rule framework that you’ve set up. I just want to note that tech support is challenging right now, so Google and Facebook have longer wait times. So being clever about avoiding ad disapprovals and whatnot is very important. Perhaps we should move straight forward into end-of-year. I think it’s probably on most people’s minds and we will make sure to send this whole presentation along so that you all can reach out and ask any questions you might have.
And if you’re curious about, for example, ” what went wrong with GoToMeeting?” maybe we can share some of that input as well. But really briefly, I think this is an important slide to touch on because these are uncertain conditions, and projections are really important. So, you might consider re-projecting.
You may have already re-projected. And if you need to, we’ve got a great blog post about this. I’ll just direct you to the website and we’ll make sure to send this link along, of course, it’s there in the presentation. But Brian Rogel from our team has come up with a great little post about how to handle re-projections and best practices.
So I want to direct you there if you’re curious about it. All right Anne, take it away. So a couple of things to consider when you’re planning for a year-end during an election year. And we all know it’s not really a normal election year, there’s a million other things happening, we have the pandemic. Many people are concerned about the potential for a market crash. So, it’s important to plan ahead and have multiple messaging arcs if needed. If the outcome of the election is going to impact your work or how you want to communicate to your supporters.
And then, like Chris said with the re-projections, it’s important to think about what if there is a market crash? How are you under re-project? How are we going to react? Our recommendation is still to Ask if you won’t ask, they won’t give, but it may be that you need to ask for a lower dollar amount or, use messaging, like “if you can”, that sort of thing. But just some key things to keep in mind as you’re planning. And then additionally, look at what you did in 2016 with election year. And then a reminder that Giving Tuesday is in December again. So looking at what you did last year, I think is a great start as well, because it is different than when it’s earlier in October and just start planning now. So I just want to note here, these are some more specifics about what you can do with video supporting your end-of-year efforts. If you haven’t tested video before running programmatic video or video on Facebook or YouTube in support of your brand is a great idea. It’s going to be contentious this end-of-year.
We’ve got the election ads in market. We’ve got. Everybody else trying to fundraise as much as they can. And I think video is a really, really good way to promote your mission. So we did a one-month test last year for a client with $40,000. We delivered over the top video on Hulu and other apps like that, as well as programmatic video on high-impact placements on big, well trafficked websites. So we had a four way test. We had two 62-second variants and two 32-second variants. And like I say, the campaign was just for December. Now, what we saw was an increase in search volume for that brand from 28, the previous year to a 47, which is incredible. We saw increases in search revenue and search engagement. So we had more searches than ever before for the brand. We had better click through rate on all of those ads. We had a higher conversion rate and we had 21% more revenue on Google and nearly 66% more on Bing.
And I just want to call out briefly if you’re running SEM and you’re not on Bing yet, it’s a great time to port that over. You’ve basically got just enough time to port those campaigns over into Bing, figure out what’s different about Bing compared to Google and let them run through end-of-year, because they will raise money if they’re raising money on Google.
Remember that Bing’s average user base is a little bit older than Google’s, and that probably aligns more with your average donor demographic. The final thing is that this was a durable increase. This campaign and the associated increases in marketing we’ve done around brand building has increased or has led to about $60,000 in additional revenue since last December.
So this is definitely an awesome tactic to bring, to bear in a crowded marketplace. Yeah, I second that comment about Bing. I think it’s an overlooked channel and just really important to be on there. One additional thing to keep in mind, this is a little bit before year-end, but just a new announcement in the past couple of weeks that Facebook is not allowing any ads that require that disclaimer to be launched, so like a new ad approval, seven days ahead of the election. So if you are planning a campaign that begins November 1st or it usually does, and it requires that disclaimer, just keep this in mind and launched after the election. I think those few days before the election in general could be a little bit volatile on Facebook specifically.
So I wouldn’t discount even just pausing ads during that time, but just something to keep a look out for and to remember as you’re launching new campaigns. Yeah. And I just want to note also that it’s not like if you have approved campaigns running, they’re going to disappear seven days ahead of election day, so you’re approved ads that are already in market will continue to deliver.
So you could launch before that and expect them to keep delivering through it. Although again, I take your point Anne about maybe just pausing because costs will increase. I personally will hesitate to navigate to Facebook leading up to the election. Now this is really important, I just want to note that as you move into end-of-year SEM. Last year, we were able to test pretty conclusively into Maximize Conversion Value. In the past, running automated bid strategies like Maximize Conversions would definitely lead to more transactions, but that doesn’t mean more revenue. Google could accidentally start optimizing for as many transactions as possible and end up getting you a larger number of donations, but less revenue. If you’re most interested in generating revenue during end-of-year, it’s important that you use Maximize Conversions Value if you have enough data to use automated bidding strategies. If you’re generating significant Conversion Volume, then I definitely recommend using Maximize Conversion Value over target CPA or Maximize Conversions.
Awesome. And then finally, and I’m sure that many of you are aware, a cross-channel strategy, an integrated campaign is the way to go, especially during year-end. It’s important now to start meeting internally with your teams to figure out what you’re doing in direct mail on email and advertising, how those can all work together to ultimately, lift all channels and help your program overall.
Some helpful ways to do this is to create a shared calendar with key dates that can be actively updated and commented on so that you know if an email send changes, will that affect what you’re doing in Facebook or an SEM. And then look at historical performance. And this is probably a given I’m sure you all are already doing this.
But just looking at what we did last year what happened even in March with the pandemic, in the case of additional COVID spike happening around year-end. And then just what you did during the past election year. Those are all helpful historical data to look at is your planning for this very interesting, hopefully great year-end.
And then just start the conversation early. Absolutely. So one last thing to cap it off, cross-channel strategy. Before end-of-year, you still have time to execute what’s called an addressable display buy. You could try to activate your direct mail audiences by using their addresses as targeting for ads.
Basically what addressable display is, is drawing a narrow little geo-fence around each of those addresses and serving ads there. So if you’re interested in really getting your channels meshed together and understanding the viability of offline donors become online donors. There’s still time to test into that before end-of-year, and it’s a great idea. We thank you so much for having joined us. We hope this was useful and we hope you feel better prepared, not only to advertise during the pandemic, leading up to the election, but also for successful end-of-year.