Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound School is a regional charter of Outward Bound USA, with campuses in Baltimore and Washington DC. Outward Bound’s mission is predicated on the belief that values are experienced concretely rather than taught abstractly; that when the makeup of a crew crosses racial, economic or religious lines differences are celebrated, appreciated, and valued. The ethos behind the program is that by living in a group in a wilderness setting and facing authentic challenges, participants realize what they are truly capable of and develop compassionate, courageous leadership skills needed for actively engaging in their lives back home.
Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound wanted to expand their reach and raise brand awareness around schools in the DC area. They first worked with Media Cause on a Google Ad Grant project, which led to a subsequent paid media awareness campaign to achieve their goal.
Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound was looking to spread awareness of their different programs and classes to a wide range of relevant parties—parents, educators, and professionals.
They knew the market had a lot of potential, but that it would take time to get in front of the right audience and give them enough information to eventually convert. They needed the right campaign to get this program started.
When addressing this campaign, we began by analyzing which platforms would work best based on where the target audiences were. We chose Facebook and YouTube, then went about segmenting and creating ads. We developed a paid media strategy and set our parameters to measure success, focusing on general ad recall and engagement with the brand.
We had a set of three targets: parents, educators, and professionals. We needed to create different ad sets for each group and platform. Once the ads were complete, we needed to narrow our target groups further. We wanted to expand beyond their usual geographic target areas where they had seen previous enrollment from.
We had a good spend which was paced well and adapted to changing audience interest, revamping plans, and adjusting the goals as needed based on performance.
In the first few weeks, we paid close attention, optimizing Facebook as early as possible through continuous feedback. We added a few more custom segments similar to each other and used some A/B testing to see what would increase performance.
After the initial reports, we saw we were falling short in ad recall and performance—people were seeing ads but not liking or engaging with them. Since impressions were high, audience edits were the best route. We then expanded interests to include additional topics and also decided to broaden the geofence.
Later, we also tried switching out one of the lowest performing creatives and replacing the static ad with a video. This outperformed the previous static image, showing that dynamic content drew greater interest.
With YouTube, we tested adjusting the audiences more. Keyword targeting paired with geo-targeting produced too small of an audience, so we decided to use Google’s custom segment feature to target parents and students within the appropriate zip codes who also had an interest in outdoor and education resources.
One of the biggest drivers of success for this campaign was the creative. It was very strong with no stock photos, but rather a raw and real look into the program and what it offers. We mainly created static ads for Facebook and videos for YouTube, though a late stage test showed that videos outperformed static images on Facebook.