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J Med Internet Res. 2016 Sep 14;18(9):e235. doi: 10.2196/jmir.5683.

Does Digital Video Advertising Increase Population-Level Reach of Multimedia Campaigns? Evidence From the 2013 Tips From Former Smokers Campaign.

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Center for Health Policy Science and Tobacco Research, RTI International, Research Triangle Park, NC, United States.



Federal and state public health agencies in the United States are increasingly using digital advertising and social media to promote messages from broader multimedia campaigns. However, little evidence exists on population-level campaign awareness and relative cost efficiencies of digital advertising in the context of a comprehensive public health education campaign.


Our objective was to compare the impact of increased doses of digital video and television advertising from the 2013 Tips From Former Smokers (Tips) campaign on overall campaign awareness at the population level. We also compared the relative cost efficiencies across these media platforms.


We used data from a large national online survey of approximately 15,000 US smokers conducted in 2013 immediately after the conclusion of the 2013 Tips campaign. These data were used to compare the effects of variation in media dose of digital video and television advertising on population-level awareness of the Tips campaign. We implemented higher doses of digital video among selected media markets and randomly selected other markets to receive similar higher doses of television ads. Multivariate logistic regressions estimated the odds of overall campaign awareness via digital or television format as a function of higher-dose media in each market area. All statistical tests used the .05 threshold for statistical significance and the .10 level for marginal nonsignificance. We used adjusted advertising costs for the additional doses of digital and television advertising to compare the cost efficiencies of digital and television advertising on the basis of costs per percentage point of population awareness generated.


Higher-dose digital video advertising was associated with 94% increased odds of awareness of any ad online relative to standard-dose markets (P<.001). Higher-dose digital advertising was associated with a marginally nonsignificant increase (46%) in overall campaign awareness regardless of media format (P=.09). Higher-dose television advertising was associated with 81% increased odds of overall ad awareness regardless of media format (P<.001). Increased doses of television advertising were also associated with significantly higher odds of awareness of any ad on television (P<.001) and online (P=.04). The adjusted cost of each additional percentage point of population-level reach generated by higher doses of advertising was approximately US $440,000 for digital advertising and US $1 million for television advertising.


Television advertising generated relatively higher levels of overall campaign awareness. However, digital video was relatively more cost efficient for generating awareness. These results suggest that digital video may be used as a cost-efficient complement to traditional advertising modes (eg, television), but digital video should not replace television given the relatively smaller audience size of digital video viewers.


digital advertising; health campaigns; smoking; social marketing; television advertising

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