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Campaign Results from PBS' Year-End Promotional Banners

For nonprofit fundraising professionals, calendar year-end is critical – up to 40 percent of individual giving occurs during the final months of the year. So development teams will go to great lengths to ensure fundraising channels are optimized for donations.

PBS Digital and Development Services teamed up this past December to capitalize on PBS' 17 million monthly unique visitors with holiday-themed donation promotions which ran on PBS.org as well as local and national COVE video portals. By using the automatic localization, prospective donors could be sent directly to local stations’ donation forms for increased local revenue.

Campaign Overview & Methodology 
The goal of all fundraisers is to make giving online easier. A best practice is to provide an experience by which user should be able to find a donate button in less than two seconds.

The December campaign featured banner promotions at the top and bottom of the video portal, which ran Dec. 2 – Jan. 12. It also featured a popup or “lightbox” ad on the PBS.org home page and other top-level pages, which ran from Dec. 21 – 31. (The lightbox was only shown to users the first time they visited during that time period.)

Clicks on the promotions were recorded through Google Analytics; the recorded data included the station to which the user was localized. Upon viewing the different areas of the sites where these promotional banners surfaced, a visitor would randomly see one of the two versions of the banner. One version used the word “support” in its call-to-action language, while the other used “donate.” This is a test designed to see which word best entices visitors to click. Though the test could not measure completed donations, the results will inform which call-to-action best resonates with visitors in these particular placements.

Results
With Andrew Alveraz’s blog post, KQED Measures Financial Impact of PBS Holiday Campaign, we have established a baseline for what a click may be "worth" for a particular local station. But at the national level, we have started digging into the numbers and illustrated some of our findings below.

Finding 1: More than doubled referrals from PBS to station donation forms – a 126 percent increase year-over-year. That dramatically higher than our audience growth (during this time site visits were up 27 percent and unique visitors were up 40 percent.)

The lightbox generated the best results by far. Not only did it have the most total clicks (24,049); its click through rate of 1.72 percent eclipsed the 0.02 percent CTR of the top banner and the 0.03 percent for the bottom banner.
Finding 2: Steady performance. The number of clicks remained largely consistent, aside from a big spike during first day of Downton Abbey Season 5 streaming.
Finding 3: Major holidays have a real impact on visitors. For example, we saw a major spike in giving around the Christmas holiday. The lightbox had a significant drop on Christmas Eve – but an uptick to its biggest day on Dec. 26.
Finding 4: Wording matters, too. “Support” received more clicks than “donate” in both the banner spots and the lightbox. But be careful: while this result is statistically significant, this insight can only be applied to a similar lightbox or banner placements. Previous studies have shown that in some uses, “support” can be confused with “technical support” on a website.
If you have any questions or would like more insights in to these findings please contact the SPI team.

By Dan Haggerty, Senior Manager, Digital Analytics, and Chas Offutt, Director of Development, Digital

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