Thursday 5 December 2013

Is the Internet effective for Charity fundraising?

Can the Internet deliver donations to Charitable causes more effectively than conventional media routes such as direct mail and press advertisements?

Many fundraisers responsible for spending advertising budgets believe so.

Many experts have their doubts.

Andrew Papworth writes a regular newsletter called Harvest. His December issue has an article titled: Why you should not rely too much on the Internet.

“According to the Office for National Statistics, more than a third of women aged 65 to 74 and almost three-quarters of those over 75 have never used the Internet”.


“Elderly women are often a key market for fundraisers and they are particularly likely to be missed by online communications”.

Drayton Bird says that Social networks can lose fundraisers a lot of money. He quotes using a statistic from the 'causes' application from Facebook:

“Over the last 12 months for which figures are available just $2.5 million has been solicited in the US by 19,445 charitable organisations. That’s an average of just $126 per organisation. They would have done infinitely better using Direct mail, but that isn’t fashionable”.

The problem is the sad fact that Internet advertising is peopled by practitioners who have made jargon an art form and who use it to make the practice very opaque. Transparency is absent for many campaigns.

The initial start point was search, a digital equivalent to Yellow pages where people looking for something specific are nudged into choosing a brand or service using adwords. This market is for people who are 'engaged'.

The digital version of mainstream offline advertising such as Press or TV are leader boards, banners, skyscrapers and MPU’s. When all this started they were priced in Cost per thousand impressions or Cpm’s in the American vernacular. And initially they were expensive, as high a £25 per thousand impressions. This was clearly unsustainable because it made the cost of buying online impressions more expensive than on established offline media. Digital publishers began to offer more flexibility in terms of geographic selection, behavioural and contextual targeting but prices had to fall. Advertisers were now more interested in the number of people who clicked on to their landing page or website. The average click through rate was 0.06% or 60 clicks per 100,000 impressions, so if you were foolish enough to buy impressions at £25 per thousand you would pay £42 per click. Horrendous.

The first to offer a low cost option were the blind networks or exchanges, who took over the unsold inventory of publishers and offered these for very little but at the expense of information about exactly where the ads appeared.

More recent is re-targeting where using cookies implanted in your computer, advertisers can provide messages to people who have previously shown an interest. Furthermore these messages can be transmitted across all the devices such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops and smart TV’s. This is known as householding.

Now the accent is on trading desks, real time buying using algorithms and programmatic platforms. Some of the more informed advertisers query the excessive jargon, are concerned about the lack of transparency and are considering having their own trading desk.

The jury is still out about whether these developments will make digital medium more effective.  

No comments: