Ad Council Case Study
How the Ad Council partnered with Llama Lead Gen to create one of the largest digital marketing campaigns in history.
Discover how Llama Lead Gen worked with the Ad Council to inform and educate vaccine hesitant audiences about the COVID-19 vaccine and drive traffic to reputable sources from which to conduct research in one of the largest digital marketing campaigns in history.
The numbers at a glance
JAN 2021 to
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The client: Ad Council
The Ad Council is a non-profit organization which brings together the most creative minds in advertising, media and tech to address the most worthy causes. Since 1942, Ad Council icons and slogans have been woven into the very fabric of American culture. From early campaigns such as “Loose Lips Sink Ships,” Smokey The Bear’s “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires” and “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk” to the recent groundbreaking “Love Has No Labels,” #EndFamilyFire and #SheCanSTEM, the Ad Council’s social good campaigns shift mindsets and spur movements.
Given this long legacy of progressive campaigns, Llama Lead Gen understood the importance of executing a successful COVID-19 vaccine awareness campaign and was capable of meeting Ad Council’s high expectations.
We hired Llama Lead Gen for their expertise in building and managing campaigns, serving as our main marketing/advertising partner for the COVID-19 vaccine campaign. They were our day-to-day points of contact with planning, building, managing, and reporting the campaigns across various social platforms, which include: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, and Snapchat.
Digital Media Director @ Ad Council
U.S. citizens have been inundated with disinformation and false news about the origins of the COVID-19 vaccine and the potential side effects (or lack thereof) of the vaccine.
When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine there are three main subsets of individuals:
Those who are willing to take the vaccine without hesitation
Those who are hesitant and may be influenced by disinformation
Those who will likely never take the vaccine for various reasons, whether those be political, religious, or personal preference
One challenge that Llama Lead Gen and the Ad Council faced with this campaign was the politicization of the COVID-19 vaccine and how we could educate and present factual information to our audiences in a respectful way, without coming across as patronizing or arrogant. In many ways, our target audience was either skeptical or downright opposed to the COVID-19 vaccines. We were essentially sending dog ads to cat lovers.
Together, we initiated ad campaigns across all major social media platforms in an effort to combat skepticism through education and credible resources.
The problem with the politicization of the COVID-19 vaccine is that it became easy to push someone away before they’ve had a moment to process the information in front of them. For vaccine-hesitant audiences, the Llama Lead Gen team developed campaigns focused on two similar messages:
For those researching on their own:
There is a lot of disinformation that exists around COVID-19. Make sure you’re making your decision based on accurate information and reliable sources.
For those willing to speak to their doctor:
Talk to your doctor and have a discussion about if the COVID-19 vaccine is right for you and your family.
Many of these audiences had strong feelings on personal/individual freedoms and liberties, therefore it was decided that the focus of these campaigns be to empower audiences to use the right sources when conducting their research.
It was our job to guide them to factual information and not to push them to take “the jab.”
The decision was theirs to make and therefore our campaign theme became….
Using geotargeting for maximum effect
Select geographic targeting strategies were used to get our ads in front of the most appropriate audiences. In addition to flight-specific demographic targeting, we implemented Designated Market Areas (DMAs) and state-specific targeting based on levels of hesitancy. We targeted those DMAs which were most conservative and/or more hesitant to receive the vaccine.
Additionally, with data provided from the CDC we were able to narrow our targeting down to states among three levels of vaccine hesitancy; high, medium, and low. As the campaign progressed we were able to continuously update audience targeting and specific messaging as new data was made public. With this as our foundation, we were able to get the right message in front of the matching respective audience for maximum resonance and impact.
Crafting messaging for education, not persuasion
The Ad Council and Llama Lead Gen teams collaborated on ad copy messaging which was employed among all our social media platforms. Each phase and flight had messaging which was relevant to their audiences and the political climate. Headlines and body text were focused on informing and educating viewers about the safety and benefits of the vaccines. Some copy variations posed questions to the viewers to raise engagement and interest. Others introduced emotional elements such as family and moments missed.
Making information inclusive & accessible to all
COVID-19 vaccination rates within the Black American and Hispanic American communities were significantly lower than other populations, therefore specific campaigns were developed to spread awareness to these communities. The video and image creatives used a diverse group of medical leaders to speak directly to concerns and to continue answering common vaccine questions while still articulating that it’s perfectly acceptable to have questions and concerns about the vaccine.
In order to optimize engagement with our Spanish-speaking audience, specific flights and creatives were prepared with Spanish language and text. We understand how important trust is, especially in medicine, and it was important for us to demonstrate racial and ethnic representation in our creative to help further our message and education across all communities. This strategy proved to be especially effective for key engagement metrics on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
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The power of cross-channel campaigns paired with a multi-phased approach
Llama Lead Gen understands not only the importance of using multiple channels to promote a message, but also how to mold that message into what the platforms want to inherently promote. Social media platforms all have their own algorithms and in order to be effective, you need to craft content that plays nicely with the platform. Additionally, learning from the feedback each platform provides and optimizing campaigns over time result in high ROI. That’s why Llama Lead Gen took a 3-phased approach to test, learn, and optimize.
Partners worked with
Creative flights breakdown
Many of our campaign flights were promoted cross-platform to maximize reach and efficiency. Here where our primary campaign flights were active:
FDA & Delta
Social Facts - Q&A
VidMob Socially Optimized
Conservative Leaning Households and Individuals
Essential and Frontline Workers
Country Music Fans
Llama Lead Gen’s role in the campaign…
…we pretty much did it all
Developed Media Plans for each channel
Worked closely with Ad Council and partners like the CDC and WHO to develop messaging and copy
Audience development across all seven social media channels
Built campaigns on each advertising platform from start to finish
Coordinated creative development with partner creative agencies
Set bids and budgets
Worked closely with all seven key social media platforms; Facebook/Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Reddit
Managed pixel setup for monitoring campaign performance for reporting and growth purposes
Created a holistic campaign reporting dashboard to manage and track data
Retargeting and remarketing campaigns
Determined types of campaigns, objectives, CTAs, goals and KPIs
Wrote ad copy for all seven social media channels and each campaign
Crafted brand lift studies and managed A/B tests to measure effectiveness of ads
Conducted bi-weekly performance updates, including calls with partners to brainstorm new strategies
Strategy development and consultation on marketing initiatives
Summary of results
What makes a successful campaign?
A successful campaign is often defined by one thing: metrics. The numbers. Did you meet the goals that were set at the onset?
In this campaign, the Llama Lead Gen team was fortunate enough to develop and manage campaigns that resulted in unheard of numbers for a typical digital marketing campaign:
Llama Lead Gen was able to launch all campaigns successfully. The client noted that their budget was spent in full, they have low CPMs, and objectives were reached. Their workflow is effective. The team is responsive and is always there to offer help.
VP of Media, Social & Emerging @ Ad Council
Bigger than the numbers
However, in this campaign there was something bigger than numbers at play. On the other end of these ads were real people with real families who had real concerns that needed to be addressed. It was an amazing honor to not only manage one of the largest digital marketing campaigns in history - but to couple that with a cause that could ultimately save lives.
Correlation or causation - why not both?
The overall goal of this campaign was to share unbiased, factual, data about the COVID-19 vaccine and to encourage the most skeptical groups across the United States to conduct research on reputable sources or to speak with their doctors directly.
From a marketing standpoint, the challenge was that ultimately these actions are untrackable - speaking with doctors, getting the COVID-19 vaccine - both happen offline and there is no way to trace it back to our efforts.
Which leaves us with an element of correlation or causation. No matter what the spark is that ignites someone's decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine it's important to take a moment to celebrate that the COVID-19 vaccine is readily available to anyone who wants it in the United States.
As of January, 2021, when this campaign began, through February, 2022, when it ended, single dose vaccination rates from our core target audience groups are below:
African American: 7%
Hispanic American: 5%
White American: 13%
African American: 50%
Hispanic American: 55%
White American: 58%