Improving campaigns with the ‘Aggregated Outcomes Benchmarking Database’

Making use of lessons and learnings from the campaigns being delivered across government has always been seen by Government Communication Service (GCS) communicators as a highly valuable asset. But actually being able to do this has consistently proven to be a challenge.

With this in mind GCS has been working closely with its media-buying agency OmniGov to create the ‘Aggregated Outcomes Benchmarking Database’. The database effectively functions as a library of media intelligence, enabling the creation of a set of norms and benchmarks that support campaign planning, objective setting and gives sight of how your paid-for elements of the campaign are performing against previous government campaigns. Its purpose is ultimately to assist key performance indicator (KPI) setting and drive better dynamic campaigns. 

After 18 months of data collection, OmniGov and GCS produced the first report and shared the key initial findings at OmniGOV’s biannual Inside Effectiveness session in April 2020. We’ve highlighted some of these findings and how GCS communicators can start acting on them to help deliver the best campaigns possible. 

Image to represent data

Getting objectives right

The importance of objective setting when running a campaign is well known. The report has restated this importance by showing that your campaign objective type, whether recruitment or behaviour change, has a greater influence on results than the actual stage of your campaign. So getting objectives right is effectively more important than whether your campaign is in its first, third or fifth year. To do this make sure that your communications objectives and success KPIs are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely (SMART), based on your theory of change and clearly aligned to the policy goal. 

Campaign awareness and recognition 

If recognition is an important element of your campaign, then you should carefully consider how your campaign is reaching target audiences. The report highlighted that campaign recognition has a much stronger relationship with reach than with other related outputs such as media spend or campaign frequency. In order to achieve a recognition rate of 50%, you should ideally be delivering an 80% reach for the target audience. This holds for both behavior change and recruitment campaigns. 

For issue awareness however, an important output is campaign frequency. If you want to maximise awareness around the policy that your campaign is aligned to, then planning for high-frequency advertising to an optimal of 7 times should be the aim. To offer a few examples, an average frequency of 7 has been seen for the Army ‘This is Belonging’ and HMRC ‘Self-Assessment’ campaigns, both of which enjoy higher than average issue awareness levels. This norm has also been applied to the latest Coronavirus health campaign planning, where an optimal campaign frequency of 7-10 has been indicated as maximising issue awareness. We should also however remain conscious of not bombarding people with too much of our messaging, an issue that was highlighted in the 2019 Advertising Association report on the decline of public trust in UK advertising.

Channel strategy

With so many available channels and the increased opportunity to combine different forms of media, it can be difficult to devise the right strategy. The report has offered some early insight into how we can best do this. One key finding showed that offline media still holds importance when a campaign is trying to achieve digital engagement. Campaigns with a spend of up to £2 million see an increase of 0.11% in digital display ‘Click Through Rate’ when offline media is included in the overall media mix. So if digital engagement is something your campaign is trying to achieve, then try and include at least one offline channel when your budget allows. 

There has also been signs of a strong correlation between the view rate of social media video content and ‘Main Message Take-Out’. This suggests that social video can not only support your messaging but that the view rate can also act as a useful predictor for how well you are meeting your message take-out objectives, with the insights from these predictions allowing for in-campaign optimisation. The indication is therefore that if ‘Main Message Take-Out’ is a KPI in your campaign then you should consider using social media video content as a way to drive your message across more strongly and to fine tune your campaign while it is actually live. 

The ‘Aggregated Outcomes Benchmarking Database’ is a first big step towards creating a universal data-driven baseline for helping deliver effective and impactful government campaigns. As the database continues to grow, GCS can continue to benefit from an even wider and more detailed range of insights. These initial findings offer a taste of what’s in store. To get more information and find out how you can support the ‘Aggregated Outcomes Benchmarking Database’ project, contact either Emma Scoular, Head of Effectiveness (OmniGOV) ( or Noel McGarrell (GCS) (

The first report can be accessed via the GCS Knowledge Hub, within the OmniGOV OmniKnowledge section.

Find out more about: