Case Study: How Social Ads and Kickstarter Allowed KPCC to Resurrect LAist

instagram, Membership, Social/Mobile, social media, Facebook ads, digital marketing

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Back in 2012, a tiny radio show called 99% Invisible was desperate to continue production of what seemed to be a wildly popular podcast. With few options, host and creator Roman Mars popped up a page on the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter and asked his small-but-loyal fan base to keep his show in production. They answered. More than three times over.

The success of 99% Invisible’s Kickstarter campaigns captured a lot of attention in public media. Since then it’s become clear that crowdfunding isn’t ideally suited to support the overall health of a public media station. Rather, the best candidates for these campaigns are stand-alone projects over which an audience feels a sense of strong ownership, and projects that likely could not exist were they unable to meet their funding goal on Kickstarter.

KPCC (Southern California Public Radio)

In 2018, KPCC acquired a shuddered altweekly called LAist. The acquisition was part of a transformative digital strategy aimed at growing and diversifying their audience. Though they purchased the website, they needed funds and supporters to bring it back to life and incorporate the assets with existing KPCC assets: enter Kickstarter.

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Case Study: WBHM's Success Using Targeted Social Media Ads

Facebook advertising, Membership, Social/Mobile, social media, digital marketing

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Last fall, WBHM 90.3 in Birmingham, Ala. ran their first paid social media ad campaign, and it led to very successful results.

The ads were direct solicitations for donations and offers to buy WBHM socks, t-shirts, and pint glasses in hopes of cultivating these individuals for membership later on. But the success lay in the use of targeting.

Targeting, as you probably know, is the magic (or creepiness) of digital ads that have been selected for people based on their past actions online. WBHM purchased targeted ads through Facebook, uploaded the email addresses of current and lapsed members, and then had Facebook target those users with ads, along with owners of email addresses they had from the NPR One database.

The owners of the ad-targeted email addresses made 279 donations totaling $32,441 during the station’s fall, 2017 membership drive. (Donations made up to one day after an ad was viewed by an individual and up to 28 days after an individual clicked through an ad were considered part of the fall, 2017 drive).

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Case Study: How KCUR Tripled its Newsletter Subscribers Using Paid Social Media Ads

Facebook advertising, Membership, Social/Mobile, social media, digital marketing

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In 2017, my station, KCUR 89.3 in Kansas City, Mo., had a content-driven weekday email that highlighted important news of the day. The content was hand-curated and high-quality, and we knew it deserved a wider audience. My digital department allocated a small budget ($1,200) toward paid Facebook and Instagram ads aimed at generating email address leads. My colleagues in audience development also saw the newsletter as a major opportunity to get to know our audience as a result of the email addresses generated by their subscription to our list. Finally, we all believed we could convert many engaged readers into donors.

When the newsletter was a year old, it had 2,100 subscribers. We set this as our baseline; our goal was to grow the list by 100 percent. This felt ambitious but attainable for what was a first-time experiment. We didn’t have clear, in-house benchmarks, nor did we have easy access to paid-social metrics for our industry, so we referenced general Facebook benchmarks for success to help guide our goal. (At the time, internet research suggested $2/lead was phenomenal success for our industry.)

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Case Study: How KWMU Generates Email Leads Using Paid Social Media

instagram, Facebook advertising, Membership, Social/Mobile, social media, digital marketing

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In 2017, St. Louis Public Radio (KWMU) Digital Media Specialist Brendan Williams made a connection that led to the station’s most successful social media experiment to date.

The station was paying an agency to, among other things, deliver brand content for their social media channels like image carousels and animated video aimed at listening options. But the investment yielded little ROI. KWMU's digital team realized they were making tons of content in-house that could be repurposed. They could easily take a portion of money they were paying the agency and divert it toward in-house experimentation in paid social media ads.

The station had an appropriate target in mind for the leads: a daily content-based email that they were looking to grow. Williams’ team had experimented enough with paid Facebook ads to know they did a pretty good job generating email leads.

So, KWMU decided to reappropriate some of its agency budget to pay for Facebook and Instagram ads promoting the station’s daily content email.

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Start Finding Valuable Donors Online Using Basic Digital Advertising

Membership, digital revenue, digital marketing

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As more people in station audiences interact with stations strictly online, it’s crucial that public media stations meet these audiences where they are. One effective way to do that is to use digital advertising to acquire new donors and increase revenue.

What is digital advertising?

Digital advertising combines all of your digital donor outreach efforts into a single, cohesive strategy. It includes graphic ads with a call to action, called retargeting, like the ads that follow you around the Internet after you search for a new pair of shoes online, for example. It also includes social media efforts, robust email marketing and fundraising campaigns, demographic ad targeting, and your Google Ad Grant.

Demographic ad targeting creates a lookalike audience made up of people who match the demographic of your current membership. Ideally this lookalike audience will be highly receptive to your message and will be willing to invest in your station. This is very similar to strategies used in acquisition-mail list planning, for example, where the mail is targeted to donors who are predisposed to support your cause.

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Five Predictions About Digital Advertising (and a Key Recommendation for Public Radio)

PMDMC, Corporate Support, digital revenue, digital marketing

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At PMDMC 2017, Corey Elliott from Borrell Associates discussed the changing impact and growth of local digital advertising. He shared the following five predictions based on Borrell Associates survey data:

1. Advertisers will cut "weaker" media to fund digital.

  • 63% are increasing their digital spend.
  • 75% of “increasers” will be negatively impacting their non-digital budgets to do so, with print media taking the biggest hit.
  • These advertisers taught themselves that digital “works.”
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