Programmatic Ad Buys Drive New Revenue at KQED

Last Updated by Natasha Hilton | Senior Associate | Development Services on

Testing the Traditional

As the digital media landscape continues to evolve, stations are faced with changes in viewership and donation patterns. In an increasingly multi-channel environment, stations are challenged to look beyond traditional sources of revenue, including revenue generated from the system’s lifeblood—pledge­­.

That’s why KQED decided to take a different kind of pledge— to test programmatic ad buy strategies to reach a new online membership base and drive conversion and retention online. By testing targeted Quantcast ads, a predictive intelligence software, KQED aimed to drive subscriptions rather than donations, reduce dependence on pledge, and find lower cost alternatives to direct mail and on-air pledge campaigns. So far, the results of Quantcast ads have been successful, particularly when deployed strategically alongside on-air and direct mail fundraising appeals.

About Quantcast

KQED_adbuys.pngQuantcast is a predictive intelligence software that maps KQED’s ideal constituents and matches their patterns against Quantcast’s view across the entire web, serving millions of impressions to people just like their existing members. Quantcast is easy to implement via a simple HTML tag on KQED’s homepage, donate page, and final confirmation page. There’s also the ability to test multiple creative and messaging within a single campaign, with best performing creative able to be auto-served.

KQED first began using Quantcast by repurposing existing banner ads, before launching custom creative. Some where specific--like a new podcast—in order to drive subscriptions rather than donations or to increase the number of online sustainers. 

Quantcast tracks visitors to KQED’s website, particularly donors and then follows their web behaviors (rather than IDs) on other websites in order to build out a profile. Quantcast provides KQED with useful demographic information about website visitors, how they compare with the overall demographic of web users, and what other top sites they visit. It then builds profiles based on this information, and serves programmatic ads to capture like types on the other websites.

The Results

KQED_adbuys2.png As a result of the ads, KQED significantly grew its donor database. An average of 24.5% of Quantcast donors were new members—defined as never before entered in their database. When run alongside on-air pledge, Quantcast saw a dramatic spike in new donors. Further still, 2015 radio pledge drives with concurrent Quantcast ads met goals faster and ran shorter. By comparison, the May 2014 radio pledge drive without ads ran two days.

Concurrent with Radio Pledge (CPA Model)


Concurrent with Direct Mail & TV Pledge (CPM Model)


Concurrent with Radio Pledge (CPM Model)


On the creative side, vehicle donation banners in November to June increased car donations to KQED by 25% (858 v. 1085 donations). These were the best year-end results ever. KQED has now incorporated more Quantcast tags throughout its website and is running year-long campaigns. 

KQED’s success with Quantcast ads in conjunction with on-air pledge, highlights the importance of using multichannel fundraising tactics as part of a larger donor acquisition strategy. Integrated tactics offer the potential to maximize both existing and new sources of revenue beyond the traditional pledge mix.

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