Acquisition Allocation: On Facebook and Diverse Growth Mechanisms

Amid shifting policy announcements and retailer boycotts, we’re hearing the drumbeat of a long-asked question grow louder: “What do we do with Facebook?”

Our answer, for some time and still now, is to use Facebook when it helps our partners grow their audiences efficiently and cost-effectively – while at the same time staying a step ahead of evolving environments. For many organizations, Facebook is and will remain a vital component of their media plans: Political campaigns have historically relied on Facebook to power donor acquisition and share their message in the months leading to Election Day, and world-changing nonprofits use it to power programs for people in need. As a tool, Facebook is still far and away the most powerful platform to reach the greatest number of people. Our clients are pumping millions of collective dollars into the platform every month, and they continue to see list growth with tremendously low CPA and high ROI through their existing acquisition programs. Those are results we don’t foresee changing any time soon. 

At the same time, we’ve anticipated the need to diversify sources of donor and prospect acquisition. As a result, we’ve helped our partners become less dependent on Facebook, even as it remains prominent in many media plans. We’ve done so by developing and honing new approaches to add meaningful additional revenue to clients’ bottom lines almost immediately, including some tactics that are helping to reinvent acquisition and audience development.

Predictive modeling: From a massive data lake with billions of data points, we’re able to leverage predictive analytics to identify supporters most likely to give to your organization among a variety of categories. Whether you’re looking to re-engage lapsed supporters, build an army of sustainers, or increase your number of high-dollar donors, our data scientists develop models that identify individuals with not just the greatest propensity for donating – but those most likely to donate to you right now. One client used this AI-backed modeling to break even in 14 days and achieve 317% ROI after one month.

Data co-op: While the modeling described above is a way for organizations to connect with existing members of their audiences, our brand-new data co-op uses cutting-edge predictive analytics to help partners identify new likely donors from a massive pool of shared data between co-op partners. It’s similar to the offline model organizations have used for decades but uses our powerful predictive analytics to deliver high return, scale, and speed to scale while mitigating risk and required expertise. One program saw a 70% ROI after the first two weeks, while another broke even in only nine days.

Expansion into other channels: While Facebook offers a highly optimized, ROI-friendly ads manager, other digital platforms are rich with opportunities to get in front of audiences with less competition. These include YouTube and Twitter – still the go-to source for breaking news and up-to-the-minute updates and a perfect place for nonprofits to scale their rapid-response campaigns, often at a comparable rate to Facebook – as well as native channels like Outbrain, the latter of which allows organizations the opportunity to advertise on premium publishers such as CNN, The Washington Post, or MSN.

The single most important thing we can do to help our clients succeed online authentically is to give them options. It’s an ongoing experiment. But it’s a worthwhile one. If you’re interested in talking about it, reach out. Let’s pursue new opportunities together.


Senior Vice President Ambika Subramanyam has helped build passionate, millions-strong digital communities for some of the nonprofit world’s most diverse clients, including GirlTrek, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Teacher2Teacher and Principal Project initiatives, and Friends of the Earth.

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Anne Lewis Strategies, an Infogroup Company

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