Digital Media Grant Results are Beginning to Roll In

By: William Bradley, CA DCSS

As the year marches forward, so do the activities for the federal Digital Media Marketing Grants. Last year, the California Department of Child Support Services (CA DCSS) in partnership with Del Norte, Imperial and Merced County Departments of Child Support Services, Orange County Department of Child Support Services (Orange County DCSS), San Diego County Department of Child Support Services (San Diego County DCSS) and Sacramento County Department of Child Support Services (Sacramento County DCSS) were given federal funding to test the effectiveness of digital media marketing to increase case openings in non-assisted populations. Each of the participating counties has been making strides in their outreach and marketing campaigns and are beginning to tally the results.

Orange County DCSS has finished their first phase, which promoted primarily on streaming music services iHeartRadio and Pandora. Online listeners were offered 15-30 seconds of informational voiceover with a banner ad linking users to the Orange County DCSS website homepage and provided a phone number, with messaging and audio designed to evoke friendliness and stewardship. In the next phase, ads will include a toll-free number which will route callers to a call center to help new customers open a case.

Sacramento County DCSS, whose campaign targets families already participating in CalFresh and Covered California subsidy programs, will be taking full advantage of a video program created by their Digital Outreach and Media Engagement (D.O.M.E.) project. There are three versions of this video, each of which will be delivered through different digital outlets including paid social media ads, an email campaign and content resharing by local agencies.

San Diego DCSS’ social media campaign using Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram has largely been concluded and they are evaluating the data. However, this was only the first of three interventions. Moving forward, San Diego DCSS will be utilizing mass emailing technology through PeachJar to reach K-12, low-income and single parents, planned for September of this year.

CA DCSS first effort was the launch of a completely new website and Customer Connect application, viewable on mobile phones as well as desktops. In August, digital ads running in Merced, Imperial and Del Norte counties will test three messages and three designs with the goal of increasing general awareness of child support services. The next intervention will seek to engage parents with contextual and behavioral ad placement and continue to refine the most effective messages and designs.

The goal of the grant program is to assess the effectiveness of digital advertising for child support services, and to create a template for what other Child Support Programs can do in digital media outreach. The solid work being done in the California grant counties will set a benchmark for national efforts and help inform the process nationwide, establishing the state as a leader in innovation. Great work to all the grantees!