Health communication and marketing research with new media: Case study of the Parents Speak Up national campaign evaluation
New media present opportunities to evaluate health communication and marketing (HCM) media campaigns. Using efficacy testing methodologies, new media can be an important tool to enhance the evidence base on health messaging. In this paper, we illustrate the current use of and opportunities for research using new media by describing the online efficacy evaluation of the Parents Speak Up National Campaign (PSUNC).
PSUNC is designed to increase parent-child communication about sex as a proximal behavioral outcome leading to delayed onset of sexual activity. The campaign primarily uses public service announcements (PSAs) and a Website to deliver messages. The use of PSAs precluded a field-based evaluation design since PSAs would not generate measurable exposure to the campaign. Thus, an online evaluation strategy using the Knowledge Networks panel was adopted to overcome this challenge and test for efficacy. The evaluation was a randomized controlled trial of the effects of campaign exposure on parent-child communication outcomes. Parents were randomized into control, exposure, and booster exposure conditions. Exposure study participants viewed and heard campaign messages online or by mailed DVDs and completed online surveys.
Preliminary findings suggest the campaign increased parent-child communication about sex and affected other intended outcomes. The evaluation illustrates how online social marketing efficacy studies can overcome many traditional evaluation challenges. More widespread use of efficacy studies with new media would enhance the evidence base in social marketing.