Parents Ask, the Canadian Down Syndrome Society Answers With Search Ads and YouTube Videos

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Helpful answers mean everything to expecting parents who have just received a Down syndrome diagnosis. The Canadian Down Syndrome Society and FCB’s “Down Syndrome Answers” campaign used YouTube videos to answer parents’ common questions and dispel misconceptions about Down syndrome.

Goals
Reach expecting parents in the moments after they receive a Down syndrome diagnosis
Dispel misconceptions about Down syndrome
Approach
Monitor search trends to identify common keywords that parents in Canada ask after getting a Down syndrome diagnosis
Answer those questions with search ads that lead to YouTube videos featuring answers from real people with Down syndrome, instead of a clinical response
Results
455M impressions
240K questions answered
893% increase in referral traffic to the Canadian Down Syndrome Society website

When expecting parents learn that their child has Down syndrome, what’s next? The hours and days following a diagnosis are critical for parents who may not know much about the genetic disorder; they may have hundreds of questions and don’t know where to get started. According to the Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS), one of the first places parents turn for answers after they receive their diagnosis is Google Search.

CDSS looks to common search questions for answers

While there are vast resources available to answer questions about the syndrome, CDSS’s creative agency, FCB, noticed that answers online tended to be clinical in nature and lacking in warmth.

“Just by casting real people with Down syndrome, we started to dispel some misconceptions about the developmental disability. But what made this campaign effective was ensuring people find the videos first when they turn to Google looking for answers.”

FCB also saw that common search terms turned up organic results from doctors, charities, and government organizations—and only a few ads. “There are lots of websites offering the medical perspective, but they typically use very clinical terms that don’t capture the emotional and human side of the Down syndrome story,” said Kirk Crowther, the CDSS’s national executive director.

FCB found that many of the questions questions pertained to more than just clinical facts around Down syndrome. Parents sought to understand whether someone with Down syndrome could ride a bike, among other questions that required a new perspective.

FCB saw a unique opportunity to reach parents in the moments they need answers most—and from the people they’d most want to hear from—with its “Down Syndrome Answers” campaign.

CDSS dispels misconceptions about Down syndrome with YouTube videos

Google helped FCB pull top queries about Down syndrome and then narrowed down those queries even further to find questions that expecting parents who have just received a diagnosis most often ask. Knowing parents’ most pressing questions, the CDSS and FCB created a series of 42 YouTube videos featuring answers from real people with Down syndrome. The touching—and informative—videos answer common questions such as “What is Down syndrome?” and “Can a person with Down syndrome learn to read?

CDSS’s media agencies, Initiative and Reprise, set up an AdWords campaign to serve the videos next to commonly searched terms. Thus, when expecting parents turned to search to ask questions such as, “When do babies with Down syndrome learn to talk?,” they were served helpful ads right in that moment.

“Just by casting real people with Down syndrome, we started to dispel some misconceptions about the developmental disability,” said Nancy Crimi-Lamanna, CCO at FCB Canada. “But what made this campaign effective was ensuring people find the videos first when they turn to Google looking for answers.”

Answering 240,000 questions (and counting) with search and video ads

Since the launch, the campaign has received 455 million impressions and answered 240,000 questions about Down syndrome. The CDSS considers that a job well done, given that 25,800 Down syndrome diagnoses are given to pregnant mothers in North America each year.

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The CDSS’s site has seen a 893% increase in web referral traffic and racked up great local, international, and ad press, including winning a Webby Award in Best Use of Data Driven Media. The CDSS and FCB are energized by the creative potential of marrying search and video ads. The campaign will live on on YouTube, continuing to answer pressing questions about what living with Down syndrome is really like.

FCB Toronto:
Tyler Turnbull – CEO
Jon Flannery – Chief Creative Officer
Jeff Hilts – Chief Creative Officer
Nancy Crimi – Lamanna- Chief Creative Officer
Shelley Brown – Chief Strategy Officer
Simon Tuplin – ACD, Art Director
Pete Gardiner – ACD, Copywriter
Judy Hamilton – Producer
David Rodriguez – Editor
Anabella Mandel – Group Account Director
Joline Christiani – Account Manager
Eryn LeMesurier – Senior Strategist
Shelagh Hartford – Digital Strategist

Direction:
Elias Campbell – Director
Stephen McLouglin – Director of Photography

Jigsaw Casting:
Shasta Lutz – Casting Director

Canadian Down Syndrome:
Kirk Crowther – National Executive Director
Ed Casagrande – Board Member
Ben Tarr – Board Member
Kaitlyn Pecson – Communications Manager

Initiative:
Shannon Pluem – Media Planning Manager

Reprise:
Ryan Thomas – Integrated SEO Director
Brayden Maxwell – Integrated Search Analyst
Elliot Abraham – Sr. Tech SEO Account Manager

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