Research, Monitoring, and Evaluating VAW Social Marketing Campaigns

Learning Network Brief 17

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AUTHORS
Marcie Campbell, M.Ed., Learning Network, Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children, Faculty of Education, Western University.

Linda Baker, Ph.D., Learning Network, Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children, Faculty of Education, Western University.

SUGGESTED CITATION
Campbell, M., & Baker, L. (February 2014).  Research, Monitoring, and Evaluating VAW Social Marketing Campaigns.   Learning Network Brief (17).  London, Ontario: Learning Network, Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children.  http://www.vawlearningnetwork.ca/social-marketing-public-education

Research, Monitoring, and Evaluating VAW Social Marketing Campaigns

The prevention of violence against women (VAW) requires an intentional and comprehensive approach that includes addressing its key determinants.  Social marketing is one strategy to change social norms by providing key messages of gender equality, inclusiveness, appropriate behavior and respectful relationships, and by modeling how sexist attitudes and abusive behavior towards women can be challenged. 

It is important to research, monitor, and evaluate a social marketing campaign in order to develop and implement an effective campaign and to determine if the campaign met its objectives and achieved change.

When researching, monitoring, and evaluating a social marketing campaign, five basic questions need to be considered: What will be researched, monitored, and evaluated?  Why is this measurement important?  How will the measurements be conducted?  When during the campaign will the measurements be conducted? How much will the measurements costs?   This material was adapted from Lee & Kotler (2011) and Donavan & Vlais (2005).

Phase 1: Developing the campaign – FORMATIVE RESEARCH

A) Define the overarching issue (violence against women)

Conduct research to describe the overarching issue and gain an understanding of the community’s current attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours related to the issue in order to: rationalize the campaign development; obtain baseline knowledge measurement (the measurement that reflects the state of the community prior to any improvement effort); learn about behaviours, attitudes, and beliefs the community would endorse; and identify potential target audiences.

Examples of how to define the overarching issue:

  • literature review
  • population-based surveys
  • focus groups
  • interviews with key stakeholders

B) Learn about target audience(s)

It is important to understand your target audience(s) to ensure that the campaign objectives and messages will gain attention and motivate change.  There are four different areas of formative research that need to be conducted in order to gain a full understanding of your target audience(s):

  1. The current attitudes/behaviours of the target audience(s), including those that compete with the promoted attitudes/behaviours of the campaign, need to be identified to establish a baseline measurement to help monitor change.
  2. It is important to identify the real or perceived barriers that the target audience(s) may associate with the promoted attitude/behaviour change that would make them think that change is not possible (e.g., target audience may avoid engaging with abusive men because they think they will make the situation worse for the woman).  Once these barriers are identified, the campaign can develop strategies to overcome them.
  3. Identifying the real or perceived gains or benefits that the target audience(s) associate with the promoted attitude/behaviour change is important in order for the campaign to emphasize these benefits within the campaign messages to motivate change.
  4. Other influences on the target audience(s) (e.g., family, culture, social networks, entertainment industry) need to be identified so the campaign can use these influences if positive or challenge them if negative. 

Examples of how to learn about the target audience(s):

  • surveys
  • focus groups
  • personal interviews

C) Determine organization capability and community opportunities or threats

It is important to identify the potential strengths and weaknesses of the organization responsible for the campaign in order to address the issues and ensure the organization is capable of designing and implementing a social marketing campaign (e.g., funding available, current partners and alliances, reputation, campaign delivery capabilities).

The community where the campaign will be implemented can also influence the progress, outcomes, and impact of the campaign objectives.  Campaign developers identify opportunities in the community to take advantage of in order to assist the overall goal of the campaign (e.g., new policies that support campaign objectives, strong anti-violence neighbourhood).  However, developers need to be aware and prepare for any potential threats in the community that may have a negative influence on the campaign objectives (e.g., popular media giving competing messages).

Examples of how to determine organization capability and community opportunities or threats:

  • interviews with key stakeholders
  • surveys
  • focus groups
  • environmental scan

D) Efficacy and appropriateness of campaign messages and objectives

Campaign developers measure and evaluate the target audiences’ responses to the campaign messages and objectives in order to determine whether or not they will be effective in promoting awareness and change within the group (e.g., are messages and objectives relatable, personable, understandable, accessible, and doable). 

It is also important to measure and evaluate the responses to the campaign message and objectives with other community audiences that are not necessarily targeted in the campaign to prevent any unintended negative consequences that stem from the campaign messages and objectives (e.g., blaming the victim).  The message and objectives of the campaign should be adjusted based on the results of this research prior to finalizing the message and campaign strategy.

Examples of how to measure the efficacy and appropriateness of campaign messages and objectives:

  • pretests
  • surveys
  • focus groups
  • personal interviews

In the complex and layered issues related to violence against women, there is much more at stake than in commercial marketing situations.  Donavan and Vlais (2005, p.198) stress that unintended negative outcomes of social marketing efforts may harm women and children, the very individuals the campaign is ultimately meant to help.  These researchers conclude:

  • If a campaign budget does not include a sufficient allocation for formative research…we would suggest that such a campaign should not run at all.
  • It is essential that formative research study the effects of proposed campaign messages on women and children experiencing violence.

Phase 2: Implementing the campaign - MONITORING

A) Campaign progress

The campaign is continuously monitored in order to determine whether the campaign objectives are being met, the message and associated services are effective at endorsing change, and the target audience(s)/community is satisfied overall.  If the goals of the campaign are not being met or the target audience(s) is not engaged, adjustments should be made.

Examples of how to measure campaign progress:

  • posttests
  • surveys
  • satisfaction scales
  • focus groups
  • interviews with stakeholders

B) Monitor efficiency of organization

The organization responsible for the campaign is monitored throughout the campaign lifespan.  The goal is to ensure that the organization is efficiently performing its roles to increase or maintain the productivity and effectiveness of the campaign.  Monitoring would include ensuring that the organization is performing efficiently and effectively; a sufficient amount of associated services are available and easily accessible to the target audience(s); and the organization staff is satisfied with the overall progress of the campaign.

Examples of how to monitor efficiency of the organization:

  • focus groups
  • surveys
  • satisfaction scales
  • interviews with stakeholders

In a review of 13 social marketing campaigns to prevent woman abuse, only three included monitoring measures in the write-ups.  While additional work and cost is involved, monitoring may well save the entire campaign by identifying necessary mid-course corrections.

Phase 3: Evaluation of the Campaign - EVALUATION

A) Evaluate the outputs, outcomes, and impact of campaign

An organization needs to evaluate its campaign in order to determine if the message was received, attitude/behaviour change of the target audience(s) was achieved, and the campaign had an overall impact on the issue being addressed.  The following three types of measures are used when evaluating a campaign:

1) Outputs: quantify campaign activities in order to measure the exposure of the campaign (e.g., numbers of materials created and distributed; media coverage; implementation of program elements).

Examples of how to measure outputs:

  • surveys
  • focus groups
  • personal interviews
  • tracking measures

2) Outcomes: measure the target audiences’ responses to the outputs/campaign in order to determine if the campaign was effective in obtaining its objectives and inspiring change (e.g., changes in attitudes/behaviours; satisfaction levels; policy changes; increased awareness).  These measures tend to be short-term.

Examples of how to measure outcomes:

  • surveys
  • focus groups
  • control groups
  • satisfaction scales
  • personal interviews

3) Impacts: describe the long-term effect of the attitude/behaviour changes of the target audience(s) on the overarching issue (e.g., a decrease in incidents of violence against women).

Examples of how to measure impacts:

  • population-based surveys
  • population-based data
  • control groups

It can be very difficult to obtain impact measures of a campaign.  First, it can only be assumed based on your research that the promoted attitudes/behaviours of the campaign will have an impact on the overarching issue.  This is very difficult to prove with absolute certainty.  Second, it is uncertain how long it will take for attitude/behaviour changes to show an effect on the overarching issue and therefore makes it difficult to know when to measure the impact.  Finally, other factors that can influence the issue need to be identified and controlled.  However, there may be several factors that can influence the overarching issue and it may be impossible to identify and control for them all.

Research, Monitoring, and Evaluating VAW Social Marketing Campaigns Summary Chart

Phase 1: Developing the campaign - Formative Research

WHAT

WHY

HOW

Overarching issue

  • Rationalize campaign development
  • Obtain baseline knowledge of issue
  • Identify changes community would endorse
  • Identify target audience(s)
  • Literature review
  • Population-based surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Interviews with stakeholders

Target audience

  • Identify current attitudes/behaviours of audience including ones that compete with the attitudes/behaviours promoted by the campaign
  • Identify real or perceived reasons audience may feel attitude/behaviour change is not possible (barriers)
  • Identify real or perceived gains audience would experience if engage in attitude/behaviour change (benefits)
  • Identify other influences on audience (e.g., family, social networks, entertainment industry)
  • Surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Personal interviews

Organization & community

  • Identify strengths & weaknesses of organization responsible for campaign (e.g., funding, current partners, reputation, campaign delivery capabilities)
  • Identify opportunities in the community to take advantage of (e.g., new policies, strong anti-violence neighbourhood)
  • Identify & prepare for potential threats in the community that may influence campaign objectives (e.g., media, laws and policies)
  • Evaluation measures of structure, processes & outcomes
  • Interviews with stakeholders
  • Surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Environmental scan

 

Campaign message & objectives

  • Determine effectiveness in promoting change (e.g., relatable, understandable, accessible, doable)
  • Prevent unintended negative consequences on audience(s) (e.g., survivors and children)
  • Allow for adjustment prior to finalizing promotion strategy
  • Pretests
  • Surveys
  • Focus groups
  • Personal interviews

References

Castelino, T., Colla, M. & Boulet, J. (2013).  Social Marketing for Preventing Violence Against Women: Making every action matter.  Literature review for the Challenge Family Violence Project, Borderlands Cooperative, Melbourne, Australia and project partners.

Donavan, R.J. & Vlais, R. (2005).  VicHealth Review of Communication Components of Social Marketing/Public Education Campaigns Focusing on Violence Against Women.  Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, Melbourne.

Lee, N.R. & Kotler, P. (2011).  Social Marketing: Influencing Behaviors for Good (Fourth Edition).  SAGE Publications.

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