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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UNC Study Finds ‘Tips From Former Smokers’ Ads Connect a Half-Million People to Tobacco Cessation Resources

How effective was the “Tips From Former Smokers” (Tips) television campaign at driving traffic to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Tips campaign website?

[Photo: UNC doctoral student Mr. Paul Shafer examined the effectiveness of a national health education campaign. This poster is one of many smoking cessation resources available at]

The Tips television spots that aired from March 4 to June 21, 2013 – during the second year of the federally funded national tobacco education campaign – generated more than 660,000 unique visitors, 900,000 total visits and 1,390,000 page views for the CDC’s campaign website.

Mr. Paul Shafer, doctoral student of health policy and management at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and research economist in the Center for Health Policy Science and Tobacco Research at RTI International, is lead author on a paper that shares these findings.

In “Association Between Media Dose, Ad Tagging, and Changes in Web Traffic for a National Tobacco Education Campaign: A Market-Level Longitudinal Study,” published online Feb. 17 by the Journal of Medical Internet Research, Mr. Shafer shares the results of the first study to examine the relationship between varying doses of advertising for a national health education campaign and the magnitude of changes in campaign website traffic.

In 2013, the Tips campaign ads aired on national cable television networks, with supporting digital advertising (online video, display, mobile and paid search ads) to drive traffic to the CDC website. A significantly higher dose of digital video advertising was delivered in three media markets — Cleveland, OH; Sacramento, CA.; and Tampa, FL.

“The unique contribution of this study is that we were able to capture variation in the media dose over time and across media markets, at the same level of detail as in Web analytics, rather than simply comparing aggregated traffic before, during and after the campaign.” Mr. Shafer explained.

Collecting data at this granular level enabled Mr. Shafer and co-authors from RTI International and the CDC to compare Web traffic fluctuations linked to two types of ad tagging employed in the 2013 Tips television spots.

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