Nonprofit Advertising in a New Digital Landscape
The past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have taken a significant toll on the work of small-scale nonprofit organizations. These organizations, which already had to balance their often vital work against low resources and adjust to a new environment, must now reconsider how they can best engage their communities that are becoming increasingly difficult to reach.
The digital landscape is cluttered. On Twitter alone, there are more than half a billion tweets sent out each day, and 11 accounts are created every second. In January 2021, 4.2 billion people used social media globally. There is a lot of user content, data and advertising floating around online and organizations can take advantage of that.
Digital advertising and testing, often thought to be reserved for high-resourced organizations, can be done on an attainable scale for smaller grassroots organizations. They can benefit the most from outreach via programmatic advertising.
Programmatic advertising is the use of software to automatically buy digital advertising space. It can be a powerful tool for smaller-scale nonprofit organizations to make an impact and increase both brand awareness and engagement by cutting through today’s cluttered digital media landscape. It is a useful tool to stand out in the sea of information that exists on social media.
Programmatic advertising takes a targeted approach to cut through the noise. Old digital advertising methods cast a wide net and hoped to attract an audience. However, this digital tool allows organizations to precisely choose which demographic to target, as well as the location and age of the intended audience. Nonprofits can even choose to target those with a specific interest and income level.
An organization can reach its desired audience without overspending or overtaxing its limited resources because the software works by using algorithms to best allocate ad money. Once an organization has narrowed down who to target, the software does the rest of the work. The algorithms best maximize every penny spent by collecting the information provided and efficiently targeting the intended audience.
Many organizations are taking advantage of the power of having a targeted digital advertising approach. Digital ad spending is a growing business that’s expected to reach almost $100 billion this year, and there is plenty of room for small-scale nonprofit organizations to take advantage of that growth.
Narrowing down an organization’s targeted demographic can lead to a successful campaign by placing ads in front of those most likely to interact with it. One charity working to find missing children in the UK shifted its marketing strategy to a targeted digital approach and discovered that with this new approach, 70% of the children for which it appealed were found alive compared to 50% with its previous non-targeted advertising technique.
Using programmatic advertising cuts the clutter for social media users as well. Studies show “that almost six in 10 American adults surveyed online say they would like the ads on their social networking pages to be tailored to their specific needs.” In order to best utilize nonprofit organizations’ limited resources, they should invest in efforts that will help them discover their audiences and tailor their outreach in a way that will be sure to capture their prospective donors’ attention.
After launching a campaign, it is important to keep track of how it is doing. Programmatic advertising provides real-time insight into the performance of a campaign, and this can inform decision-making.
As an organization, you can quickly decide if you need to pivot. The data provided can also inform your next campaign tactics. Organizations can have access to data on those interacting with their campaign and the impact of their online presence, which are key to optimizing a small-scale nonprofit organization's return to digital marketing.
According to a Forbes survey of 211 senior marketers, “More than nine in 10 companies (92%) [that] said that they had made sufficient use of big data met or exceeded their goals.” It is clear the use of data to drive the decision-making process leads to success and, in turn, saves resources.
Nonprofits across the country are doing groundbreaking work to address inequalities, but their impact can only go so far if people are not aware of it. Small nonprofit organizations don’t have to use outdated and inefficient communication methods.
Programmatic advertising is truly an innovative tool that can revolutionize digital marketing for nonprofit organizations and illuminate how their work is changing the lives of those they serve every day.
April Avant is the CEO and principal of Tr3fecta Media, which helps nonprofits and socially centered organizations increase their online and social presence. April has made helping people and raising up the voices of underrepresented groups through smart, creative campaigns and strategies the cornerstone of her career. Her experience supports departments and key stakeholders by providing clarity on the best ways to engage with media at all levels.