Background: The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline (OTH) was created from funds allocated to the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) through the Master Settlement Agreement. Since 2003, OTH has served more than 350,000 Oklahomans.
Program background: In a world fragmented by a million different screens, it is more important than ever to effectively and efficiently reach your audience. Our strategy is to reach users who are most likely to sign-up for Helpline services. This is accomplished by utilizing highly targeted digital tactics including display and paid search. For display, we served our ads through a demand-side platform, or DSP. This allows us to target Internet users based on data points such as their search history or credit card purchases. We can then bid to show our ads to those users across thousands of websites. In the past, digital impressions were purchased in advance on specific websites or groups of websites, the DSP allows us to bid in real time based on scientific data. It shifts the focus from the website the ad appears on to the person it reaches. This method allows us to eliminate ad waste. In Q4 2016, we began focusing our efforts on engaging and converting our audience with digital tactics rather than only creating awareness. As a result, we placed more emphasis on paid search advertising. Paid search allowed us to bid our way to the top of search results pages for relevant keywords like, “help to quit smoking.” We restructured our keywords, added Bing/Yahoo, implemented multiple ad extensions and utilized more complex bidding & budgeting algorithms.
Evaluation Methods and Results: In Q1, display drove 168 Helpline conversions (sign-ups, click-to-calls and call requests). This is 40 times more conversions quarter-over-quarter and 13 times more year-over-year. Additionally, it is 265% more than the total display conversions in FY16. The conversion rate, or percent of clicks that lead to a conversion, was 1.26% in Q1 2017. This is two and a half times higher than our objective of 0.50% and 447% higher than Q1 2016. Our objective for paid search was to generate 2,500 conversions in FY17. At the end of Q4 2016, we were 14% to goal. After shifting strategy, we were 73% to goal at the end of Q1 2017. 1,465 conversions were generated by paid search in Q1 alone. This represents a 240% increase year-over-year with our investment increasing by only 27%. Our FY17 conversion rate objective for paid search is 10%. In Q1 2017, we hit 21.52%. With nearly 22% of our clicks leading to a conversion, shows that we are appearing in highly relevant search results, our text ads are clear and actionable and our website is easily navigated.
Conclusions: Big data and modern technology can be utilized to effectively reach your audience, improving results and minimizing waste.
Implications for research and/or practice: Because the Helpline has a clear objective to drive enrollments at OKhelpline.com and 1-800-QUIT NOW, we can focus our efforts and investment on people who are most likely to take advantage of the Helpline’s services.