July 17, 2012, 4:33 PM

A nonprofit group ‘hearts’ targeted marketing

The American Heart Association wins donations via retargeted ads.

Thad Rueter

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

A recent online marketing campaign by the non-profit American Heart Association shows how retargeted ads can lead to more engagement with a brand, and also bring in more money.

As part of its Go Red for Women campaign—which seeks to increase awareness of heart disease among women—the American Heart Association used online advertising technology and services donated by mediaForge and its partners. Those partners, Specific Media LLC and MediaMath Inc., donated 1.3 million ad impressions to the association, enabling the group to reach, via retargeted ads, women who had visited the campaign’s web site. (Men also could be retargeted, but the campaign was focused on women.)

The ads invited women to take a variety of actions, says Anu Gandhi, the association’s director of consumer health strategies. Online shoppers could, for instance, register for newsletters and other educational material, pledge to wear red clothes during February, and make donations; the specific actions were highlighted in different ads that retargeted consumers. “The donate button was served up on every single ad, but there was one that had the donate button featured more prominently than others,” Gandhi says.

She says the donated ads were employed during the peak weeks of this  year’s Go Red for Women campaign in January and February. The consumers who received the retargeted marketing messages generally had visited the campaign or American Heart Association site but did not register for a newsletter or donate; some had watched an educational video on the group’s Facebook page.

Gandhi says that the retargeted ads resulted in a 62% increase in newsletter and educational material registrations, when compared with consumers who did not receive the ads. The average donation value also was 67% higher for consumers who received the retargeted ads than for consumers who did not.

Gandhi declines to say what the average donation level is for the American Heart Association or the Go Red for Women campaign. But she says the donations were crucial, as the return on investment for the retargeted ads would have been too low to justify the association spending money on the program “I would love to use [the retargeted ads] again,” she says. “It’s just a matter of budget.”

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