State Councils Join Forces with National Beef Checkoff Program to Increase Online Advertising
Seven state and regional beef promoting organizations have joined forces with the national Beef Checkoff Program in a summer campaign targeting millennial consumers in five high population states. State beef councils in Illinois, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming and Oklahoma, along with the Northeast Beef Promotion Initiative, are funding extended promotion of the online checkoff-funded flagship web site BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com, along with the brand’s online videos, into California, Florida, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
The Top 5 State Media Campaign started in mid-May and will run through Aug. 31, 2016. Collectively, the five states targeted account for more than 100 million consumers, or about one-third of the total U.S. population.
The campaign utilizes internet search advertising on Google and YouTube video advertising to hit the consumer at the point of inspiration, encouraging beef interest and purchases. While the national campaign focuses on millennials throughout the United States, this campaign enhances checkoff-funded efforts in top U.S. consumer markets.
“This effort leverages our current national checkoff media buy and extends it more fully into the high population geographies that arguably need it the most,” according to Martin Roth, executive director, creative and digital media for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. “Our goal is to provide consumers with inspiring beef meal ideas and the tools, tips and recipes they need to act upon their passion for beef.”
This goal is accomplished through a two-pronged media approach. First, Google search advertising helps drive thousands of consumers to the BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com web site for checkoff-funded recipes, beef cooking techniques and beef cut information. The campaign also leverages advertising on the popular YouTube consumer video site to promote checkoff-funded beef videos, including six “no recipe recipe” videos that deliver beef ideas and information to consumers. Two new videos are in production, while additional informational videos are being produced by independent video providers.
The 30 second and one minute videos are promoted in consumer YouTube searches through thousands of purchased keyword combinations, such as “easy meals” or “steak.” When those keywords and combinations are used, the beef ads move to the top of the list.
In addition, keywords typed into the YouTube site trigger a visual and link to Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner web site, inviting consumers to watch how easy beef can be to prepare. “Pre-roll” advertising, where consumers can elect to view a 30 second beef video prior to viewing their selected YouTube video, is also being used.
These video pre-roll ads are charged to an advertiser only when a viewer watches either 30 seconds of a video, the full video (if under 30 seconds) or clicks on a link within the video at any point. On Google, advertisers only pay when a searcher clicks on their site.
“That’s the beauty of online advertising – you only pay when people engage with your content,” Roth says. He points out that the national beef advertising gets information to consumers at about 10 cents per view.
Building on Success
The Top 5 State Media Campaign repeats a successful 2015 summer campaign that on Google delivered more than 4.1 million impressions and 188,000 clicks to the beef web site, which resulted in almost 369,000 page views on the site. On YouTube, ads delivered 1.2 million impressions and received about 363,000 video views – at a cost-per-view of 8 cents.
State beef councils are getting together in other ways to extend the campaigns as well. For example, in 2015 councils in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas got together to promote six beef checkoff videos online, generating more than 350,000 views and nearly 1,500 clicks from consumers in their states, at a cost of only 13 cents per video view. Other councils have also expanded their online consumer advertising to better leverage national advertising efforts and reach older millennial consumers who seem to be “always digitally connected,” Roth says.
“Many more consumers will see the ads, thanks to the initiative of these states,” says Roth. “It’s a great way to leverage our resources and materials, and get them to more consumers.”
It’s especially important to states that have more cattle than consumers, says Heather Buckmaster, executive director of the Oklahoma Beef Council. “We only have 1.2 percent of the U.S. population in Oklahoma, and the directors on our council realize it,” she says. “They believe it’s very important that we drive Oklahoma checkoff dollars to where they will make the most difference. Focusing on these kinds of promotional efforts to consumer-heavy states makes sense, and fits with the strategy our directors have established for Oklahoma checkoff funds.”
Ann Wittmann, executive director of the Wyoming Beef Council, agrees. “We have about two-and-a-half cows for every consumer in Wyoming, so this kind of program fulfills our funding philosophy of spending the dollars where they’ll do the most good,” Wittmann says. “Advertising where consumers are is critically important to our strategies and the overall success of the Beef Checkoff Program.”
Leaders at the Pennsylvania Beef Council agree with this strategy. “Pennsylvania ranks 6th in the nation in number of consumers, but 19th in cattle, so we’re pleased to participate in this campaign, which helps us reach large population centers in our state,” says Bridget Bingham, PBC executive director. “There is no stronger force for the beef checkoff than this kind of appropriate and practical state/national partnership.”
State-by-state detailed analytics from the campaign will be provided to both participating state beef councils and councils in targeted states midway through the campaign to show progress, and at the end of the campaign to measure success.
The Federation of State Beef Councils is a division of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), which is a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. The program is administered by the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, with oversight provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Beef Checkoff Program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen’s Beef Board.