CA DCSS Digital Marketing Grant Rolls into Learning Cycle Two

By: Chad Reed, CA DCSS

The Office of Communication and Public Affairs at California Child Support Services (CA DCSS) and staff from Imperial County Department of Child Support Services (Imperial County DCSS), Merced County Department of Child Support Services (Merced County DCSS) and Del Norte County Department of Child Support Services (Del Norte County DCSS), have spent the last few months pondering and practicing all things digital advertising. They recently submitted an evaluation to the Office of Child Support Enforcement for an eight-week digital advertising “learning cycle” that lasted from August 19, 2019 to October 13, 2019. During this first learning cycle, roughly 4.5 million digital advertising impressions were delivered, and interest was deemed to be robust for the challenging topic. The team has been finalizing details for the next eight-week learning cycle, which is set to begin in the weeks ahead.

Learning Cycle One consisted of three sets of designs and three separate messages, placed as search ads, Facebook ads, Instagram ads and Twitter ads, with the goal of identifying the highest performing design, highest performing messaging and best responding platform. Relatively high traffic to all digital ads used during the cycle suggested that the types of verbiage, colors, and overall layout of the ads were all effective, and resulted in a balanced performance across all design options. This was a surprise, as the team expected to see clear differences in the performance of the different designs. The top performing ads (in terms of clicking and landing on the ad) were the mobile-optimized ads, which wasn’t a surprise, and the team has shifted to utilizing a “mobile first” strategy when creating ads for Learning Cycle Two. One puzzling finding was that LinkedIn was the third most popular outbound link across all grant landing pages. Theories as to the reason for this include checking an ex’s employment status, attempting to locate a child support professional, or using LinkedIn as a way to validate the credibility of the grant landing pages. Anyone with another theory on why someone would check out a child support ad and go straight to LinkedIn is encouraged to email DCSSOCPA@dcss.ca.gov to further discuss. In addition to these general findings, below are highlights by county:

Imperial County DCSS Highlights-
*Imperial County DCSS was the most visited page in Spanish and the second and third most visited pages in English.
*Despite being 1.5 times smaller than Merced County, Imperial County’s response rate was roughly the same.
*Highest average time spent on a Spanish web landing page by far (3:50)
*Highest average time spent on their English web landing page was the same as Spanish (3:49)

Del Norte County DCSS Highlights-
*The population is six times smaller than Imperial County and ten times smaller than Merced County, but the number of people who showed interest was half of the other counties; not six times fewer or ten times fewer.
*Highest average time spent on the English web landing page was 5:07
*Highest average time spent on the Spanish web landing page was 2:56

Merced County DCSS Highlights-
*Merced County DCSS was the most visited page in English and the second most visited page in Spanish.
               •Their Spanish page had more traffic than the English page
*Highest average time spent on the English web landing page was 3:00
*Highest average time spent on the Spanish web landing page was 2:34