PSA campaign gets impressive results from new adtech

New tech from GumGum over lays content on video for five seconds at a contextually appropriate moment.

A CTV ad campaign for The Trevor Project, which helps LGBTQ young people in crisis, has achieved remarkable results, including a 31% increase in recall among 18- to 34-year-old viewers, according to third-party research.

The pro-bono effort is the work of digital advertising platform GumGum. CEO Phil Schraeder said The Trevor Project’s mission and how it gets its message out made it a perfect fit for GumGum.

“The Trevor Project helps prevent suicides and have young people really stay connected and feel like there’s a place for them to go,” he said. “It also leans into a lot of forward-looking technology and advertising solutions to be where their help can be received by young people.

Ads overlaid on video

GumGum used its In-Video solution to overlay The Trevor Project PSAs for up to five seconds at contextually appropriate moments across video-on-demand (VOD) and free, ad-supported TV (FAST) inventory. 

PSA campaign gets impressive results from new adtech

An example of an In-Video overlay. Image via GumGum

“In-Video is a patent we have on the ability to overlay an ad at a specific frame within a video in CTV,” said Schraeder. “With it, an advertiser can be present, gain 100% of that attention, in a  contextually appropriate moment and then allow the viewer to continue through their journey.”

The result was a 20% lift in prompted awareness among the general public, which increased to 30% in the 18-34 age group, according to a study by On Device Research (ODR). Overall, the ads surpassed ODR benchmarks set for charity-based campaigns. Other results included

  • 17% increase in likelihood to recommend; 23% among 18-34 year olds
  • Two-thirds of viewers had a positive response to the creative — 8 percentage points above non-profit campaign benchmarks.
  • Three-quarters of viewers intended to take some form of action after exposure to the ad — 16 percentage points above non-profit campaign benchmarks. 

In-Video is priced on a rate card CPM basis.


Why we care. Let’s set aside the cause, which is great, and focus on the tech. Showing ads in the video, as opposed to interrupting the video to show the ads, is quite the feat, especially being able to do it at contextually appropriate moments. Doing it is only one part of the equation, the other is viewer response. The results show viewers were quite receptive to it. However, will they be as receptive when it isn’t PSAs for a worthy cause?

If it works, then there’s a potential for the kind of brand connection only seen in NASCAR and podcast sponsorships. If it doesn’t, well …

Imagine you’re watching the movie “Casablanca,” the part where Humphrey Bogart says, “Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.” As this happens an overlay extols a brand of Colombian coffee beans. For me, at least, that would be bad.

Context is king

The success of the overlays’ placements depends on GumGum’s Verity which is a content-level accredited technology for contextual analysis, brand safety and suitability.

“Verity finds the contextual understanding of the data signals from all parts of digital content being looked at together,” said Schraeder. “The images, the audio, the text, what do they mean together?”

Schraeder said GumGum wants to move beyond the brand safety approach of contextual analysis, which is used to prevent a brand from being associated with something bad. 

“We need to be leveraging technologies that are going to put that brand in the best place for you to see value in that moment,” he said. “How do we start to think about capturing triumphant moments that would be great for a brand to be present.”

GumGum’s clients include Nestle, KFC, Vodafone and BMW.

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About the author

Constantine von Hoffman

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.