By: Alix Haik-Bruno, Sacramento County DCSS
Sacramento County Department of Child Support Services (Sacramento County DCSS) is a recipient of the two-year federal Digital Media Marketing Grant, awarded in 2018. Their grant team is currently running video ads to encourage prospective applicants to take the next step in the case opening process by submitting an application, targeting parents who might not be cash-aid recipients but receive other types of assistance such as CalFresh, MediCAL or health-insurance subsidies through Covered California.
Sacramento County DCSS’s first learning cycle involved the use of paid social media ads to deliver video ads through YouTube and Facebook. Viewership was high. Overall, they had 641,825 impressions and 183,794 views across both platforms using a combined monthly budget of $6,000.00. Still, one of the main lessons learned from the first learning cycle is that viewership does not necessarily translate into action. If the ultimate objective is for an audience to take action (like submitting an application), viewing the video ad is not sufficient, the process must be crafted to encourage the viewer to take that next step.
During the test, YouTube achieved significantly more views than Facebook (178,215 vs. 5,579), but it received fewer clicks (1.77 clicks per 1,000 impressions vs. 9.23 clicks per 1000 impressions) because the positioning of the URL was not as conspicuous on YouTube as it was on Facebook. Facebook frames their ads with a call to action such as “Apply now” or “Learn more” and that seems to have engaged viewers more, resulting in more clicks. Note that YouTube and Facebook have different filters when it comes to selecting the viewers who will receive a message. Facebook has more control of ensuring that the filtered targets are being served while YouTube will deliver a higher number of “unknowns.” For the purposes of the grant, Facebook seemed more precise than YouTube. Preliminary results are encouraging since more applications were submitted during the month of the campaign than during the prior two years. Sacramento County DCSS submitted its first cycle evaluation report to grant officials for review and they are currently awaiting feedback.
In the meantime, the team has shot a second version of the video ad and are discussing implementation with their partner, the Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance. The second learning cycle will deliver the video ad through e-mail to parents in the target population.