DepressionDepression ScreeningPolicy MakingGoogle AdsBusiness AnalyticsKnowledge BrokersKnowledge Sharing
Rutgers UniversityColorado State University
Background: Health policy makers and advocates increasingly utilize online resources for policy-relevant knowledge. Knowledge brokering is one potential mechanism to encourage the use of research evidence in policy making, but the mechanisms of knowledge brokerage in online spaces are understudied. This work looks at knowledge brokerage through the launch of Project ASPEN, an online knowledge portal developed in response to a New Jersey legislative act that established a pilot program for adolescent depression screening for young adults in grades 7-12. Objective: This study compares the ability to drive policy brief downloads by policy makers and advocates from the Project ASPEN knowledge portal using a variety of online methods to promote the knowledge portal. Methods: The knowledge portal was launched on February 1, 2022, and a Google Ad campaign was run between February 27, 2022, and March 26, 2022. Subsequently, a targeted social media campaign, an email campaign, and tailored research presentations were used to promote the website. Promotional activities ended on May 31, 2022. Website analytics were used to track a variety of actions including new users coming to the website, page views, and policy brief downloads. Statistical analysis was used to assess the efficacy of different approaches. Results: The campaign generated 2837 unique user visits to the knowledge portal and 4713 page views. In addition, the campaign generated 6.5 policy web page views/day and 0.7 policy brief downloads/day compared with 1.8 views/day and 0.5 downloads/day in the month following the campaign. The rate of policy brief page view conversions was significantly higher for Google Ads compared with other channels such as email (16.0 vs 5.4; P<.001) and tailored research presentations (16.0 vs 0.8; P<.001). The download conversion rate for Google Ads was significantly higher compared with social media (1.2 vs 0.1; P<.001) and knowledge brokering activities (1.2 vs 0.2; P<.001). By contrast, the download conversion rate for the email campaign was significantly higher than that for social media (1.0 vs 0.1; P<.001) and tailored research presentations (1.0 vs 0.2; P<.001). While Google Ads for this campaign cost an average of US $2.09 per click, the cost per conversion was US $11 per conversion to drive targeted policy web page views and US $147 per conversion to drive policy brief downloads. While other approaches drove less traffic, those approaches were more targeted and cost-effective. Conclusions: Four tactics were tested to drive user engagement with policy briefs on the Project ASPEN knowledge portal. Google Ads was shown to be effective in driving a high volume of policy web page views but was ineffective in terms of relative costs. More targeted approaches such as email campaigns and tailored research presentations given to policy makers and advocates to promote the use of research evidence on the knowledge portal website are likely to be more effective when balancing goals and cost-effectiveness.
Matthew WeberVeronica L ArmourCalandra LindstadtItzhak Yanovitzky