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Digital ads key increase in revenue

West’s digital fundraising up 107 percent over 5 years.

An increased focus on digital advertising led to record-breaking digital fundraising revenue for The Salvation Army Western Territory last year.

The West’s total Christmas season revenue surged 21 percent over the past five years, fueled by a record-high 107 percent gain in digital fundraising revenue.

Nationally, the Army’s digital fundraising during the Christmas season increased by 84 percent over the same span to more than $25 million. Twenty-four percent of all online revenue was traced back to national digital advertising efforts—a reflection of the Army’s updated development strategy.

The West began doing its own media buys with The Richards Group in 2012 to supplement those of National Headquarters. The West’s broadcast TV and radio buys, however, are geographically customized to each of the 10 divisional headquarters’ markets as well as Las Vegas.

“It’s more visibility for the local Salvation Army; not quite as generalized,” said Deborah Knutson, territorial director of communications, corporate relations and brand management. “That’s something they absolutely do not get with the national buys, so it’s custom messaging, per market.”

The West’s multifaceted approach—developed in partnership with The Richards Group—included starting media earlier in 2014, resulting in an additional $482,080 in digital revenue and 3,176 additional donors.

The West continued to utilize a mix of local news programming that performed well against its target audience, running a mix of 15 and 30-second spots to help drive traffic to local Salvation Army sites.

Its presence on AM and FM radio expanded with 60-second DJ endorsements and “adversations,” or pre-recorded interviews between a Salvation Army representative and a DJ played on-air.

Digital video advertising likewise proved a valuable commodity, as Hulu, NBC and BrightRoll helped the territory extend the reach of its national video plan.

The average internet gift amount even increased from 2013 to 2014, and though it’s not directly attributable to anything, Angela McIntosh, territorial digital and integrated marketing specialist, noted the importance of identifying the Army’s potential donors.

“One of the key things about why their advertising is more successful right now is because of the amount of data that they’re amassing,” she said “So, not only was [The Richards Group] driving more [web] traffic to that conversion point, but they were converting more traffic that landed there.”

Territorial Finance Council recently approved expanding digital advertising efforts with a year-round focus for the coming year.

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