Quit’s digital win: how Breaking Habits broke through
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Visit VicHealth.vic.gov.au

Quit’s digital win: how Breaking Habits broke through

The success of Quit’s innovative campaign proves the potential of precisely targeted health messaging online.

From its heyday in the 1950s to the close of the 20th century, the advertising industry kept pace with changes in publishing and broadcasting in a relatively orderly way. But the last 15 years has seen an explosion of innovation. On a daily basis, it sometimes seems, switched-on marketers find new ways of working with data sets and digital platforms to get their messages in front of traditionally hard-to-reach audiences.


Breaking Habits campaign

Such was the case with Breaking Habits, a new, highly targeted digital campaign from Quit. For this project, Quit wanted to address the specific needs of people already motivated to stop smoking.

“From our research we know that around half of the people who want to quit make three or more attempts,” says Rebecca Cook, Senior Manager of Media and Communications at Cancer Council Victoria. “They’re motivated, they’re trying, but they’re falling down at some point. We thought this was a great opportunity to put some content online and run a digital campaign that could provide the information that seems to be missing from the picture: how to quit, and how to quit successfully.”

For Breaking Habits, Quit identified four distinct groups within that ‘motivated to quit’ target audience, varying from parents with children through to fashion- and trend-conscious younger Australians.

“This was the most targeted we’ve ever been in a campaign,” says Cook. “Different creative was made to appeal to each target group. We were able to drill down into those different demographic groups to see what motivated them and what would work in terms of support tools.”

Online is great for people looking for additional information, hunting down that ‘how-to’ help when looking to quit.

Breaking Habits centred around a series of videos: three testimonials from people who have stopped smoking discussing the strategies that worked for them; plus three videos from Quitline specialists suggesting ways to identify and change behaviours that lead to smoking, taking cues from cognitive behavioural therapy.

The nature of these videos made the digital space an ideal medium for Quit to engage the target audience groups.

“Online is great for people looking for additional information, hunting down that ‘how-to’ help when looking to quit,” says Cook. “But it also suited the longer-form style of both the testimonials and the expert videos.”

The videos were all between two and three minutes, which would be a very expensive proposition as part of a traditional mass media buy.

The tools to quit

Breaking Habits was, by any metric, a very successful campaign. Over the full period that it ran, it generated 67,915 page views with an average time of just over four minutes spent on the Breaking Habits web pages, which is double the usual time. The videos themselves clocked up 81,831 views.

Facebook and Instagram were big contributors. On Facebook, Breaking Habits generated 2,595,700 impressions from reaching 967,063 people, and on Instagram it was 1,826,300 impressions, reaching 502,256 people.

The campaign also saw a high level of effectiveness when responses from the target groups were surveyed after the campaign. Around 70 per cent of respondents said it was a relevant campaign and their motivation to quit was around 55 per cent. These numbers are above the objectives set by Quit.

People responded best to the specific creative designed for their demographic group, suggesting that Breaking Habits was very well targeted in its execution.

A subsequent award from the Australian Marketing Institute was welcome recognition of a campaign that had already proved its worth.

Image: Ad reading 40% of the things you do every day are habitual

Digital is now part of the mix

Maya Rivis, Principal Program Officer, Alcohol and Tobacco at VicHealth, says it’s important to monitor how the changing media environment impacts the reach and effectiveness of campaigns.

“VicHealth is very interested in exploring the digital space because of the general change in media consumption habits. Online allows for a more efficient way to engage the people we need to target,” she says. “We need to ensure that our investments are reaching the people they need to reach.”

Cook agrees that digital campaigns have the power to target specific groups of people, but also observes that digital remains just one aspect of a health campaign. “You can’t just convert everything into a digital campaign – it’s just one tool and it does some things very well,” she says.

“If you’re motivating people to take the first step, you need a way to interrupt the environment for them to pay attention. A TV campaign will still have a broader reach and still have a better influence on changing social norms.

“But this digital campaign was focused on people who are already interested in quitting and online is very good for reaching these people who are looking for the next step on that road.

“We’ve certainly learned a lot from this campaign, including one unexpected result,” adds Cook. “People who said they weren’t preparing to quit really liked the videos. It ended up having a broader appeal than we expected.”

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