YouTube’s pre-roll ads have been turned into a digital version of the old missing persons milk carton notices in what’s being described as a world-first.
As part of National Missing Persons Week geo-targeted profiles of missing people will be fed to YouTube video viewers via pre-roll advertising.
VML’s senior art director, David Jackson, is behind the campaign and told B&T the ads are forecast to reach at least one million Australians.
Jackson said VML approached the Australian Federal Police (AFP) with the idea after he was inspired by the story of the first milk cartoon child, Etan Patz, and wanted to find a digital version.
“I was watching some videos on YouTube, as creatives do, and thought imagine if you can use those five seconds of space to put a missing persons profile up there,” Jackson said.
The pre-rolls will display the profile and ask viewers if they have seen the person. If they choose ‘no’ they will be taken to their YouTube video, if they answer ‘yes’ they will be taken to the AFP website where they can share their information.
Google will only charge the AFP for ads when a user answers ‘Yes’.
The idea, which VML worked on for free, changed the AFP’s original media plan.
“They were about to go ahead with a Facebook campaign but they saw basically how YouTube would really help them out because you have a big photo and it can be geo-located to really focus on the right people in the right location,” Jackson said.
Jackson said YouTube has completed an internal review and believes this is the first time pre-roll ads have been used in a campaign to advertise the profiles of missing people.
Missing Persons Week runs from July 28 to August 3. This year the AFP’s campaign is focused on raising awareness about the links between mental illness and missing persons.