Lightboxes have proved to be a useful digital tool in advanced fundraising and marketing strategies at the station level, which was highlighted in a previous post that tracked WETA’s success during the August on-air fundraising drive.
Lightboxes on PBS.org and COVE video portal have also helped drive new donors and donations to local stations (see KQED Measures Financial Impact of PBS Holiday Campaign). Given the positive impact of the “disruptive” digital practice, lightboxes have been adopted by stations across the system, as well as PBS Digital and Development Services, to more effectively drive prospective donors to station donation forms.
The August lightbox was PBS’ third effort to direct a greater number of visitors to local donation forms, and though results have varied by season, KQED attributed more than half of the total generic (non-pledge or campaign specific) web revenue to the August lightbox campaign.
Peak in March Lightbox Performance
Overall, the March lightbox was most successful, particularly in regards to the total number of click-throughs and click-through rate. It should be noted, however, that the timing of the March lightbox launch undoubtedly contributed to its success compared to December 2014 and August 2015. March was the tail end of the Downtown Abbey Season —typically a time when PBS sees the most traffic in the year.
August Campaign Results
The timing of the August lightbox, Saturday, August 8th – Sunday, August 16th, was aligned to the first week of the national on-air fundraising schedule. The lightboxes ran on PBS.org homepage, PBS Video Portal pages and other top-level pbs.org pages (programs A-Z, Topics pages, TV Schedules and search pages) during the national on-air fundraising schedule.
Despite having about the same number of impressions recorded (roughly 180,000 each), the PBS Video portal recorded a lower click-through rate (4.3%) than the top-level pbs.org pages (5.8%). Additionally, it’s worth noting that although the August campaign did not produce as many click-throughs as either the December or March lightbox tests, much of this can be contributed to seasonality. August is always the month with the lowest amount of traffic to pbs.org and with fewer visits comes fewer impressions of the lightbox.
Messaging and Creative Copy
The messaging and creative aspects of the lightboxes were also a main focus for the August campaign as it reinforced summer vacation, travel, and the PBS digital streaming benefit that exists today.
August Lightbox Local Impact
Ultimately, the goal of the August campaign was to increase the number of donations to stations, but tracking individual donor activity at stations is a daunting task due to varying fundraising platforms. To better understand campaign performance, PBS partnered with Andrew Alvarez from KQED to measure the station impact of the lightbox campaign.
Despite the fewer numbers of clicks during the August lightbox campaign compared to the previous two campaigns, KQED attributed new revenue from PBS digital properties. Specifically, KQED saw 26 total gifts (eight sustainers) from the 805 clicks generated from the PBS digital channel for total one-time revenue of $2,180, which was more than half of the total money raised during this time period from generic (non-pledge or campaign specific) web donations.
Though relatively low conversion rates of 2-3%, the results are encouraging. The experience has also prompted KQED to explore how best to optimize the donor experience. For example, when a prospective donor leaves the PBS environment (i.e. clicks on a lightbox or any “donate” link) they are routed to station donation forms that often result in a jarring donor experience. And though form design will vary, KQED recognizes the importance to more effectively welcome prospective donors – and ease their transition – to the local station. By bridging the donor experience from PBS digital properties to the local stations through consistent imagery and targeted messaging, stations can convert a higher number of prospects to donors.
What’s a Click Worth? Track Gifts to Your Stations
In the March and August lightbox campaigns, PBS has implemented advanced tracking that give stations the ability to specifically identify the traffic they receive from these sources. This is done through a Google Analytics feature called Custom Campaign Tracking. If a station has Google Analytics implemented on the page that users land on from PBS.org they can easily segment out the users from the lightbox and get valuable data about just those users.
PBS tags the campaign source field as “lightbox” the campaign medium field as “top_leve_pages” or “video_portals” (depending on where the lightbox was clicked) and the campaign name field as “donate_augustpledge_2015” (for the August campaign) or “donate_marchpledge_2015” (for the March campaign). This data shows up in the standard “Campaigns” report of the station’s Google Analytics account.
This exciting feature gives stations deeper insights in to this audience without any additional work. All they have to do is just open the report in their Google Analytics account.
In case you missed the PBS August Lightbox Results & Insights webinar earlier in the week, you can download the presentation here. For more information about Custom Campaign Tracking, please contact Dan Haggerty, Senior Manager, Digital Analytics. To learn more about future lightbox campaigns, or ways your station can be involved, please contactNatasha Hilton, Senior Associate, Development Services.