A Glimpse of PPC Strategies in the Non-Profit World

Last week, I was helping my colleague align our PPC strategy with the client's big PR event on a national TV show. The experience was intense yet exciting at the same time.   While preparing for the PR event, our objective was to ensure that we captured anyone searching for the brand or the brand's industry online after seeing the airing.   First, we created ad copy that referenced the show and featured the video of the taping prominently on our landing pages.   We also, ensured that our budgets were set high enough to capture the online demand created by the national buzz.

All of this preparation got me thinking about the two big Cancer organizations that I've volunteered with: American Cancer Society (ACS) and Susan G. Komen.   They have many events that are promoted throughout the year using different marketing channels including TV ads, radio ads and yes….PPC! In this quick analysis, I will compare how each organization integrates their PPC strategy with their offline strategy.

Let's start with a little bit of a background.   Based on Wikipedia, ACS was founded in 1913 and Komen was founded in 1982. Just based on longevity, you would think that the ACS brand is more well known than Komen.   In our modern internet era we can actually research which organization has more brand recognition using Google Insights, as seen below.

Over the past year, the term “American Cancer Society” consistently has received higher web search volume.   “Susan G. Komen” had a significant spike in search volume for the month of October because of their annual Pink Ball and the 3-day walk events. There are other factors that might contribute to the volume differences other than longevity, such as the number of events that ACS offers in a year, media involvement, news, etc.   Looking at the search volume for the branded terms alone, ACS seems to be the leader in terms of brand recognition.

Let's dive into the PPC integrations with other marketing venues.

1.       ACS Have you seen a TV ad by ACS that says that it is the official sponsor of birthdays? The first time I saw it, I was intrigued (again because I've volunteered with them before) and wanted to know more about it. What do they mean by the official sponsor of birthdays? I typed in different terms to search for more information on the “more birthdays” idea in Google. First, I typed in “celebrating more birthday cancer” and “more birthdays” in Google and this is what I saw:

First thing, I see is their organic results in top positions, but I don't see PPC in this picture.   They don't have targeted ad copy for this term. Before jumping to conclusions, I searched the term again the next day and now they were showing ads with targeted messaging that integrates with their offline marketing.   To their credit they also have ad copy with a strong call to action to “Download the Free ACS Birthday Kit”.

Based on this, I searched additional variation including, birthdays cancer society, more birthdays American cancer society, more birthdays,   Below are a couple ad variations I found:

A couple of hours later, I did the same thing and I didn't see the ad copy (and yes I used ad preview tool). Instead, I saw this:

It is possible that ACS is running a test campaign for and they only run the campaigns at certain times using ad scheduling (maybe even geo target the campaigns) or they only run their campaign when TV ad airs.   They may not even realize they are going dark, as they may be running out of budget. The good thing is that they have a strong organic presence (top ranked organic results). ACS is doing a   decent job integrating offline media advertising with PPC. They are bidding on related terms and are running a few variations of their ad copy.   However, they are falling short with visibility as their ads are showing up sporadically throughout the day.

I went to YouTube and searched for their official celebrating more birthday commercial. The information section on the right side includes very helpful information about the page but unfortunately no direct link to the homepage (which is important for a curious seeker). Additionally, after paying close attention to the TV ad, it actually shows the URL for at the very end of the commercial which I don't remember seeing for the first time so unless you do a little bit of research, you probably won't get any information.

2.       Let's move on to Komen, I've been hearing its “Join 3 day walk” on the radio. When I typed: 3 day, the 3 day and 3 day walk on Google, Komen's related websites were present in the organic as well as in paid search side.   This is a couple versions of their ad copy:

What's different between ACS and Komen? Aside from bidding on related terms and running more than 1 version of the ad copy, Komen 3 day walk ad copy runs all day, which is helpful and definitely gives them a stronger presence. As I initially heard of the 3 day walk on the radio, someone who is driving, may not pay attention to the whole ad. Also, let's face it, we sometimes can't distinguish one cancer organization from the other.   After listening to the Radio ad, one might think “was that ACS or Komen?” The only thing that they may remember is the phrase “3 day.”   If the listener is curious enough, they would go to Google and type in that phrase to get more information.

In Conclusion: The main take away is that in terms of integrating PPC strategy with other marketing tactics, Susan G. Komen has a better SEM presence by running their ad copy all day. ACS's ad only comes up sporadically throughout the day.   ACS may have other considerations that I am not aware of, such as budget, or integration with TV ad schedule for not running their Morebirthdays PPC campaign all day.   By not having 100% visibility ACS may be missing out opportunity.

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