36490 Expanding the Media Mix: The Untapped Potential of Social Media Advertising in Public Health Campaigns

Daniella Rivera Burrell, MPH, Center for Communication Science, Social Innovation and Communication Strategy Group, RTI, Washington, DC and Alexandra Bornkessel, MA, Center for Communication Science, Social Innovation and Communication Strategy, RTI International, Rockville, MD

Background: Social media advertising has experienced significant growth in a relatively short amount of time, largely due to the increased use of mobile and multiscreen media consumption and the instant gratification that social media provides users. Advertisers are drawn to its extended reach, increased engagement, better analytics and reporting, increased targeting, and performance. A recent report[1] shows that social media is the most effective online paid channel for driving impressions, clicks, and conversions at a low cost. While the bulk of ads running on social media have been standard image and text units, much of the focus has shifted increasingly to video—with eMarketer’[2] calling 2015 “prime time” for social video advertising.

[1] http://www.marketingprofs.com/charts/2014/25908/the-most-effective-paid-digital-media-channel-in-2q14

[2] http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Social-Becomes-Major-Video/1011764?ecid=PR1001

Program background: Presenters will touch on digital communication trends as it relates to social advertising opportunities and how they can be leveraged for public health. eMarketer[1] proclaimed “video is the next frontier for social advertisers”, while Cisco predicted in a June 2014 report that video will account for 80% to 90% of global consumer internet traffic by 2018.[2] Further, approximately 30% of internet users view videos on social networking sites. As mobile use increases, the number of users being exposed to social media advertising will increase as well. Pew Research Center reports, “Multi-platform use is on the rise: 52% of online adults now use two or more social media sites, a significant increase from 2013, when it stood at 42% of internet users.[3]” This has strong implications for how communities, including those most at-risk for health disparities, are consuming and sharing information. Recognizing these trends, RTI International applied emerging strategies and advertising techniques across a number of public health campaigns. Presenters will identify key takeaways and lessons learned based on ad performance across campaign efforts, and share how health marketers can further leverage social media advertising to drive campaign promotion and distribution.

[1] http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Video-Next-Frontier-Social-Advertisers/1010382

[2] http://www.emarketer.com/Article/Social-Becomes-Major-Video/1011764

[3] http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/09/social-media-update-2014/

Evaluation Methods and Results: Results from campaigns demonstrate potential for social media advertising as a cost-efficient and effective distribution method for public health campaigns. Presenters will expand upon ad performance and share, generally, key metrics for consideration when evaluating social media advertising efforts including quantitative and qualitative metrics, as well as understanding tools for measurement such as Facebook reporting and Twitter analytics. 

Conclusions: Presenters will conclude with best practices for increasing capacity and understanding of social media advertising for public health campaigns. This includes ad development, messaging, targeting criteria, implementation and monitoring activities. Participants will also hear of ongoing, emerging trends in the area of social media advertising as seen in the commercial and nonprofit sector and be inspired by its application and potential to shape public health campaigns. 

Implications for research and/or practice: Presenters will discuss how to best utilize social media advertising to reach intended priority groups, and share best practices for developing and implementing social media advertising components for public health campaigns. Using the examples of recently implemented campaigns, we will explore how campaigns can capitalize on experiential marketing, social video trends and mobile to successfully integrate campaign messaging into mainstream digital platforms.