Programmatic for the People: Saving lives with ad tech

Posted by Christian Manie On April 27, 2016

Using programmatic to reach residents in high-risk bushfire areas

The Problem:
In October 2013, approximately 100 fires burnt across eastern New South Wales, including six major bushfires. These fires killed two people, burned 768,000 hectares of land, destroyed 279 homes and the damages eventually totalled well over $100 million. A problem existed with the standard messaging: It lacked impact, urgency and relevancy. Something needed to be done.

The NSW Rural Fire Service needed an effective method to alert the general public of fires. The government wanted to try programmatic buying to serve relevant impressions to high-risk suburbs and rural locations. And so Cadreon teamed up with the government to develop a warning system that would get crucial messages to the people who needed it the most.

The prime objective of the campaign was to alert people to nearby fires and increase the awareness of applicable safety measures. A key challenge was to make sure that the messaging was highly targeted to specific areas so as not to cause undue alarm. The campaign also needed to encourage downloads of the survival kit and survival mobile application.

Cadreon set up a live Application Program Interface feed to the RFS website and built a bespoke dashboard with all 97 local council areas represented. Each line was assigned a geographical position through Google Maps so that when a fire warning was registered on the RFS site, the API feed turned on the relevant line item. When the website identified a fire warning, the ad placement for that region immediately increased its bid programmatically, ensuring a location- and target-specific message.


  • 59% conversion rate within one week.
  • 2.83 million people reached throughout the campaign.
  • 73% of the high-risk Blue Mountain population saw the messaging
  • CTR rate increased by 530%. (0.03% – 0.16%)
  • 2,192 people downloaded the Survival Kit.

You can download the case study here.


Click here to view the NSW RFS video of the 2013 fires on YouTube.

Christian Manie