Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Going Fully Digital

We worked with the Ailey organization to promote the recent New York City engagement of its second company, Ailey II, by going fully digital. That’s right – not a dollar was spent on traditional print, broadcast, or outdoor media. (A modest amount was spent on postcard mailing.)

All-in Digital
The entire paid media budget was allocated to digital channels: Facebook, Instagram, display and email. This engagement was presented in a smaller theater with fewer performances and at lower ticket prices than Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s performances in New York City; this provided an ideal testing ground for an all-digital initiative – relatively low-risk with a big opportunity. This digital focus, coupled with a new dynamic pricing strategy, resulted in a sold-out two-week run and they even ended their digital campaigns early because the performances sold out so quickly.

Reaching New Audiences
While we saw a lower ROI than we usually see on digital campaigns coupled with traditional media – we expected that! – the average order value was low, due to a lower average ticket price. Since there were no other avenues for acquiring new audiences – the most expensive audience segment to reach – we had to invest heavily to bring them in digitally.

On Facebook and Instagram, we spent 60% of the total media budget on acquisition – getting new people to the Ailey II website. On display, which has performed best as a retargeting reinforcer in recent months, we spent half of this channel’s budget on acquisition. Knowing this was our only way of actively acquiring new prospective audience members, we kept our targeting very focused and managed to offset the substantial acquisition spend with an incredibly well-qualified and efficient retargeting audience – which is where most of the purchases were attributed. This resulted in a $6 cost per acquisition (CPA) across Facebook and Instagram.

Social Content Lift
As social promotion spend increased, the frequency with which audiences were seeing each post proliferated. We needed more posts to serve, especially to our retargeting audiences since they were smaller than the acquisition audiences. Ailey has an extraordinary array of visually engaging content, so we featured stunning photos and videos in this campaign.

With 20 posts across Facebook and Instagram in this campaign, we saw over 20,000 post reactions (about 1,000 per post!) and a 25% view rate of videos on Instagram – meaning that audiences were not just seeing our content passively, but actively engaging with it – you can’t measure that in a print ad.

Choosing the Right Time to go All-in
Putting all of your eggs in the digital basket should not be taken lightly. In fact, we don’t recommend relying solely on digital channels for most campaigns. However, it may be worth testing a reduction or removal of some supporting traditional channels when there’s a lower goal at stake. Keep in mind that some of your key metrics for success may change: Yes, a lower ROI is not usually on our wish list, but if it means more overall revenue – we call that a success!

Hero Image: Ailey II’s Khalia Campbell, Christopher R. Wilson, Yazzmeen Laidler, and Kyle H. Martin.  Facebook Post: Ailey II’s Khalia Campbell and Kyle H. Martin. Instagram Post: Ailey II’s Khalia Campbell in Darrell Grand Moultrie’s Road to One. All photos by Kyle Froman.

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