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Partner Spotlight: The Ad Council

Posted Apr 30, 2020

We talk a lot about the power of advertising and the way it allows advertisers access to the minds of the public at large. Mobile is the newest and most intimate channel for opportunities that have always been there; on billboards, on radio, on TV, in print, and beyond. The Ad Council has been using the power of advertising to raise awareness about important social issues since 1942.

AdColony has been working with the Ad Council to share COVID-19 recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, using our vast direct inventory to spread health and safety tips in-app at a time when people are spending more and more time on their mobile phones playing games thanks to physical distancing and work from home policies and guidelines all around the globe.

We asked Liz Johnson DeAngelis, Ad Council’s vice president for growth & managed platforms more about where the Ad Council came from, how to work with them, and all things public service announcement.

For the uninitiated, what does the Ad Council do exactly?
Ad Council is where cause and creativity meet: we are the largest distributor of public servants announcements nationally, working with nonprofits and government agencies to create communications strategies and ad campaigns for the biggest issues facing our nation. With the support of the entire ad industry, we are able to bring these messages to life and distribute them to the people who need them most. 

How does a public service announcement (PSA) differ from an ad?
Unlike most ads, we aren’t promoting a brand or selling a product. All of our messages are trying to drive social change-whether it’s through an action (e.g. shelter pet adoption), a behavior (e.g. bullying prevention), or a mindset (e.g. diversity and inclusion).

How does the Ad Council determine what causes and messaging to support?
Our new business and executive teams work very hard to determine what campaigns join our docket. All Ad Council campaigns are national in scope; non-commercial, non-partisan, non-denominational; with a clearly defined objective and call to action; and serious in scope.  Lastly, the campaign message must be one that can be influenced through advertising and communications. 

The Ad Council goes back to 1942, how has the strategy for public awareness changed in the digital age? 
In many ways, our strategy mirrors the rest of the industry growth in digital has given us better opportunities to target our ads to the right people, measure the shifts in actions and behaviors, as well as provided a new avenue to reach and engage people. We are constantly evolving who and how we work with partners, even in the last 6 weeks we have launched two unique partnerships with ad verification partners and with private marketplaces. 

How about mobile? How has the shift away from desktop web to mobile (and from mobile web to in-app) changed the approach to reaching consumers? 
We face the same issues and concerns as brands and other advertisers-how can I ensure my message is being communicated clearly and effectively on a significantly smaller screen? Because we don’t have the budget to create ads in every available size, we have to prioritize based on what performs best for our messages and the sizes where we receive the greatest amount of donated media. Additionally, it has led to amazing sponsorships and partnerships, for example, in-game activations have driven great success amongst our campaigns targeted at younger audiences. 

COVID-19 Awareness

What measures is the Ad Council taking to raise awareness around COVID-19?
In mid-March we started working with CDC and HHS to develop a campaign for COVID-19, focusing on high-risk audiences as well as a social distancing campaign. In the last 6 weeks, we have received tremendous support for these messages and are developing additional campaigns under the COVID-19 umbrella including information for parents, mental health, as well as adapting the messaging for some of our other campaigns impacted by the virus such as Caregiver Assistance and Feeding America. 

What is working with the CDC like? How did you decide on the core messaging?
The CDC is a wonderful partner who we have worked extensively with in the past on our Type 2 Diabetes campaign. The first two messages were developed with the most imperative messages reaching those with a high-risk and bringing them the right information, as well as encouraging all Americans to do their part by staying home and social distancing. 

What agency and creatives are behind the COVID-19 awareness campaign?
It has been amazing to see partners come forward to help with the creative for these campaigns. We have worked with NBCU, Viacom, Sesame Workshop, SJR, Hill Holiday, iHeart Radio, The Atlantic-the list goes on and we are continuing to work with new partners helping to develop messages as they evolve. 

Are there any specific ways consumers can continue to educate themselves beyond the recommendations from the Ad Council’s messaging?
We encourage everyone to closely follow the CDC guidelines.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned thus far during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how will that affect your subsequent messaging?
I think having a variety of messaging intended for various audiences-not everyone responds the same to information, even something as simple as “Stay Home.” It also extends the life of the creative and partners to choose assets that fit best with their content and will resonate strongest with their audiences. 

Beyond the Pandemic

What other factors are important for people to consider once they’ve committed to washing their hands and so forth? (Other Ad Council campaigns)
Right now the most important message is encouraging people to stay home and practice social distancing when they are outside of the home. Other things to consider are donations to Feeding America and your local food banks, Caregiver Assistance and ensuring elderly family members are taken care of, and safe gun storage, particularly for those households with a child present. 

What is the best way for agencies, creatives, or publishers who want to help spread the word about Ad Council causes (not just COVID-19) to get started?
The Ad Council website has a great section on how to work with us, otherwise, they can reach out to me and I will direct them to the right person! I do want to say it has been incredible to see the industry come forward the way it has around COVID-19, and once this passes we still have over 30 essential campaigns on our docket that affect the daily lives of our friends, families, and neighbors, and the only way theses messages reach the right people is through the industry’s invaluable donations and partnerships.

Keeping up with the Ad Council
If you’d like to donate creative, inventory, or time to the Ad Council’s mission, their website’s Working With Us section contains a wealth of information on just how to do that.

You can also keep up with the Ad Council on Facebook, on Twitter @AdCouncil, LinkedIn, Instagram, and even YouTube.

You can visit the Ad Council’s website for more information at any time.

Join the Conversation
Want to let us know about your PSAs and how to get them to mobile consumers? How are you following the CDC advice and staying home?  Tweet us at @AdColony. For the latest AdColony mobile news and updates, follow @AdColony on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or connect on Linkedin.


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