At a time when people are “cutting the cord,” there is a need to convert traditional cable watchers to streamers. Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) member stations direct plenty of time and effort into promoting paid Passport memberships. However, PBS identified a lack of awareness/education about the free PBS App. 
NextGen believes in a strategic balance between marketing and fundraising and saw this disconnect as an opportunity to bridge the gap—and it doesn’t hurt that, by promoting free content available on the PBS App, there is potential for some viewers/downloaders to convert to donors for Passport access.  

The Client

Maryland Public Television (MPT) is a public television network for the entire state of Maryland, the District of Columbia, and parts of Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. MPT is Maryland’s only statewide broadcaster, a PBS member station, and a producer of both locally and nationally distributed TV programs and digital content.  

The Challenge

Awareness of the PBS App is not where stations (and PBS national) would like it to be. There has been an increased desire to reach cord-cutters before losing them altogether. This includes informing people that the “stream anytime, anywhere” motto is not exclusive to mobile devices and tablets: PBS programming is readily available on Smart TVs for easy viewing.  

With this, MPT invested an additional marketing budget towards app promotion on popular streaming platforms in addition to its typical Passport pushes. The goals were to: 1) increase education on the PBS App, 2) encourage more app/channel installs in their service area, and 3) determine which streaming platform’s self-serve ad manager presents the best ROI.  

The Results

Our first effort, a Roku campaign, was split into two campaigns: one focused on direct channel (app) installs and one focused on raising awareness of what the channel offers. The campaign ran from February 12 – February 29, 2024, with an ad spend of $3,000. Our two campaigns resulted in 1,193 channel installs and 134,752 impressions, respectively.   

Next, we experimented with Amazon Fire TV using a more targeted list of zip codes. Our creative included a static graphic as well as a promotional video. The campaign ran from April 4 – April 30, 2024, with an ad spend slightly under $5,000. Our ad resulted in 508 app downloads, 1,360 clicks, 1.34 million impressions, a 96.2% video completion rate (VCR), and a $3.72 CPM. 

In addition, PBS has a native donation form connected to Amazon Fire TV so users can sign up for PBS Passport. During the campaign run, MPT received 11 one-time gifts totaling $660 and 766 monthly gifts totaling $3,988. While the primary objective of the campaign was app installs, we saw a secondary measure of success in new PBS Passport sign-ups. This new revenue will completely cover the cost of the campaign in month two. 

About NextGen Fundraising

NextGen is a thought leader and knowledge resource in the nonprofit industry. We advise clients at all levels of the organization and we know from experience that fundraising works best when it is aligned with mission, financial, and marketing strategies and goals.

For us, strategy drives the tactics—not the other way around. Our agency creates information-driven fundraising plans rooted in a culture of analysis. We embrace new technology and believe successful nonprofits transform through the coordination of media and a commitment to multichannel donor relationships.

The NextGen team is composed of strategists and specialists in fundraising, direct response, and digital marketing services. Most of us have worked and volunteered at nonprofits, giving us a distinct perspective on how organizations operate. 

Most importantly, we know that when we and our clients are successful, good things happen in the world.

To learn more about our work, check out our services or contact us today.