Preparing Victorians for a summer of extreme fire danger

At Dentsu Aegis Network we pride ourselves on our ability to use data and emerging technology to pioneer and deliver brave solutions for our clients and this campaign is a testament to that.

Dentsu Mitchell & Columbus were tasked with translating bushfire awareness into immediate behavioural action in one of the most fire-prone regions in the world.

Our challenge was to simultaneously educate and warn Victorians of the dangers of bushfires in regional Victoria, grassfires on Melbourne’s peri-urban fringe, as well as caution travellers planning intrastate travel. In this instance with lives at risk, failure was not an option.


The ‘Fire Ready’ issue is far too complex to provide a simple call to action that can be applied to all scenarios. A range of personal factors and decisions based on individual circumstances will often impact at what point the decision is made, however, a lack of awareness/understanding of fire danger ratings and limited preparation can have tragic results.

Due to the success of previous campaigns, the idea of becoming ‘Fire Ready’ was entrenched in the Victorian psyche. However, from our research, it became apparent that complacency and familiarity with the ‘Fire Danger’ message were reducing the real threat posed each summer to these ‘at risk’ Victorians.

We needed to ensure that both the ‘Fire Ready’ and ‘Leave and live’ messages were served at the right time to maximise its impact across key communities.


For the campaign to be successful, we needed to simplify the complexities around fire danger ratings and teach people to prepare adequately for the summer danger period. Due to the diverse set of risks posed by fires at a local level, this meant we needed to deliver multiple messages to a wide range of audiences at different times or simultaneously if conditions demanded.


With all activity being intrinsically linked to weather conditions we had to find a creative way to plan for fire danger risks.  We developed a dynamic content solution which integrated the Fire Danger Rating data into programmatic display, paid search, and Facebook creatives. This allowed us to take Victorians on a journey from awareness to preparation, whilst also alerting them to action when needed.


The true hero of the strategy was our ability to successfully map the VicEmergency feed data against the nine Victorian fire districts and serve hyper-local creative. This was a complex process, which involved not only building HTML5 dynamic creative templates but creating trigger rules to manage the frequency of the key Fire Danger Ratings across Search and Programmatic display.


To avoid ad fatigue the campaign success hinged on serving the right message to the right user at the right time. We used location-based targeting to serve each district within regional areas and urban fringe communities with specific campaign messaging depending on the Fire Danger Rating in their area.

Using mobile network Amobee’s unique location-based targeting system, a distinctive combination of Wi-Fi and telco signal strength, allowed us to map out Australian based locations; accurately identifying the user’s location within the nine fire districts. We then overlayed this data with MCN ID targeting which uses aggregated Telstra subscriber data (Age, Gender and Postcode data) cross-referenced with Experian and Roy Morgan data. By using both publishers, this enabled us to accurately serve the right message at the right time to the right person.

DAN’s programmatic buying desk, AMNET, worked with Google to develop a dynamic display solution and sophisticated big management strategy to ensure those most at-risk during periods of extreme temperatures received Fire Danger Rating information at the escalation point. Rules were created and applied to the Fire Danger Rating data to update dynamic fields in HTML5 templates to reflect the Ratings in each region and serve the warnings to browsers across desktop, mobile and tablet.


We then took it one step further by supplementing our search campaign with display keyword targeting which allowed us to serve an ad to a user searching for any relevant fire related article across news networks. This allowed for further amplification of Summer Fire messaging across an authoritative environment where users are actively looking for content, updates, news and preparation information. We were also able to add more keywords such as CFA, different regions, fire preparation and more.


A global first in search marketing, this campaign was crucial in alerting and educating Victorians about fire and fire risk.

Our real- time bidding strategy allowed us to communicate multiple messages to key audiences: mitigating the danger for those living in at-risk bushfire communities and raising awareness for peri-urban fringe communities and travellers.

We drove real behavioural change with our Search ads being relevant, personalised and delivered in the most personal channel inciting our audience to not only be receptive to the message but act when necessary. Without a live digital approach, this campaign’s effectiveness would have stagnated.


Our ultimate goal for this campaign was to prevent any casualties in the summer fire season and provide a safer Victoria. During the height of summer, 1 in 2 Victorians was clicking on our ads, proving the presence and engagement we were able to achieve with this solution.

No Victorian lost their life due to fire this season and whilst this cannot be solely attributed to our campaign, acknowledging the tireless work of the emergency management sector, our dynamic content solution played a crucial role in educating Victorians and alerting them to take action when needed. We wouldn’t have been able to do this without the support of the Department of Justice and Regulation, whose team equipped us with the necessary information to create this global first.

We successfully delivered over 65K clicks and generated over 400,000 impressions on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), exceeding all expectations and turning search into an effective awareness channel to educate and alert Victorians in fire related emergencies.

Our creative solution to maximise local relevancy by delivering personalised messaging, using triggers and geo-fencing, allowed Columbus to manage the frequency of the key Fire Danger Ratings across Search. This campaign mechanism helped to reduce media waste and only amplify warning messages when it really mattered, maximising impression, reducing ad fatigue and reaching the most users possible in a qualified media channel. The campaign had an average CPC of less than $0.5 CPC, as relevance to users was maximised through these trigger rules, resulting in a CTR of over 20%; an outstanding result.


Our proven results in Search allowed us to replicate the success of our dynamic content solution across Social and Display too:

  • We reached over 1.7 million and generated over 4 million actions across Facebook
  • Video content exceeded 300k views on YouTube and Twitter combined, with an average view-through rate of over 17%
  • Our programmatic display activity served over 30 million impressions, with our dynamic feed solution generating close to 3 million unique impressions and close to 4000 clicks.

“This campaign demonstrates what can be achieved through hard work, collaboration and the desire to constantly look at ways to drive innovation.” Nick Carrington, Senior Adviser, Campaigns Strategic Communication Branch. Department of Justice and Regulation.

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