The Ad Council Launches A Private Marketplace With Donated Media For COVID-19 PSAs

The Ad Council said Thursday it has launched a programmatic private marketplace (PMP) for public service announcements related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This initiative is its first major foray into donated programmatic media, though it has experimented with targeting audiences on social and specific publishers.

The Ad Council coordinates public service advertising campaigns for a variety of causes and is working with Cadreon to activate its PMP through The Trade Desk. It is targeting against Acxiom audience segments. All three partners have donated their services, technology and data, respectively.

InMobi, OpenX, Xandr, GroundTruth, TripleLift, Ogury, EMX, Kargo, Bustle and the New York Post have donated media. All campaigns running through the PMP are COVID-related and were created and donated by NBCUniversal, ViacomCBS and Sesame Workshop.

The PMP, which went live last week, has already reached 1 million unique users with display and video PSAs, and is projected to deliver 100 million impressions through donated inventory within its first two months.

“The industry has stepped up in such a big way,” said Liz DeAngelis, VP of growth and managed platforms at the Ad Council.

The Ad Council decided to launch a PMP so it could target audiences with relevant messages while ensuring quality. At-risk people over 65, for example, are receiving messages about how to stay safe, while millennials are being hit with campaigns urging them to stay inside.

“We’re layering on Acxiom data to identify the right audience and match them with the right COVID messaging,” DeAngelis said.

As the pandemic situation evolves, programmatic makes it easy to swap out messaging and heavy up in different markets or against audience segments being hit by the virus, DeAngelis said. The Ad Council will start running PSAs targeted to new parents, multicultural audiences and people with mental health needs in the next few weeks.

“New messaging will be so seamless to put into the DSP and go live in a couple of hours,” DeAngelis said.

So far, results have exceeded industry benchmarks. Overall video completion rate for the PSAs are 92%, and 88% for millennials. Average click-through rates were .12%, which were higher than industry averages and lead to the CDC’s coronavirus.gov URL, said Nancy Hall, SVP of programmatic for Cadreon on the East Coast.

This The Ad Councils first time using a PMP for donated media. Cadreon, which has three employees working on the PMP part time, was instrumental in helping the Ad Council connect with media owners and get the PMP up and running in a matter of days, DeAngelis said.

The current iteration of the campaign is slated to run for four weeks, but the Ad Council will continue running PSAs through the duration of the crisis. It plans to eventually layer in other cause-based marketing campaigns through the PMP to expand its programmatic efforts.

“This is a great way to prove out that when we’re able to target, control for certain elements and make optimizations, donated media is that much more impactful,” DeAngelis said.

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