How charity Missing People is saving lives by moving to programmatic

Over the last four years Missing People has shifted its marketing spend from print to programmatic in a move the charity says has enabled it to “save lives”.

Charity Missing People has credited a shift from print to programmatic with helping it to “save lives”.

Speaking at the Get With The Programmatic conference today (21 September), Ross Miller, director of fundraising and communication at Missing People, said the charity’s biggest problem has been budget and the challenge of having no marketing spend.

“We have a big goal, to find every child, but one of our key challenges is resources. We have the challenge of zero marketing spend,”

Ross Miller, director of fundraising and communication, Missing People

In response to a lack of funding, Missing People’s campaigns have had to be resourceful, something that led the charity to use of out-of-home to make appeals for the children that go missing, including campaigns such as its Child Rescue Alert. That allows Missing People to constantly evolve its campaigns through dynamic creative optimisation, to react to data and fine tune its messages.

“We started really small with out-of-home and over the last four years our partnership with the out-of-home industry has grown significantly. The advertising space that is donated to us each year is now worth £10m,” Miller said.

And through programmatic the charity has been able to make its outdoor spend go further. That has included a move from only being able to advertise one appeal a week for a missing child across the whole UK to a more targeted, location based appeal. The move from print to digital was also “crucial” to finding missing children as Miller said it allows the charity to replace a child that has been found with one that is still missing “immediately”.

“When we first started using out-of-home, 50% of children we appealed for were found alive, when we switched to a more programmatic use of out-of-home our response rate went to 70%. People respond to a message that is relevant to either where they live or a location,” said Miller.

Missing People is continuing to push programmatic through Facebook, with location-based alerts automatically appearing in people’s news feeds when a child goes missing in their area. It has also been testing how it might be able to use augmented reality to find missing people through apps such as Pokemon Go.