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Special Project

Special Project
From the 13th Annual Shorty Awards

Spreading a Message of Hope for Problem Gamblers During Unprecedented Times

Finalist in Non-Profit


The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey (CCGNJ) is a NJ-based nonprofit organization best known for and often referred to as its 24/7, confidential helpline, 800-GAMBLER. That number appears on casino billboards and scratch-off cards statewide, providing a lifeline for problem gamblers and their loved ones. Despite their already strong presence, CCGNJ’s work is never complete.

The month of March would have normally been peak sports gambling season. But with the COVID-19 pandemic gripping the nation, things looked very different. Most sporting events had been canceled, and in mid-March, NJ’s governor ordered many public spaces closed — including casinos. With gamblers turning to online outlets, the CCGNJ also needed to pivot their strategy. Therefore, their goal was to increase overall awareness as well as promote their new options for remote support.

The global pandemic had far-reaching consequences, and CCGNJ knew that they needed to take swift action to be ready to assist vulnerable populations in a time of uncertainty. With everyone staying at home and spending more time on their computers and mobile devices, it was essential to reach them where they were. To help them achieve this, we would:

Strategy and Execution

A Sign of the Times

Under normal circumstances, one of CCGNJ’s primary goals would be to direct people to find a meeting with Gamblers Anonymous (GA) for their gambling problem. However, with strict rules prohibiting groups of people from gathering, many people were left without the support they needed. To address this gap, CCGNJ shared resources for alternatives to GA meetings on their new Help During The COVID-19 Pandemic page, which was prominently displayed at the top of the homepage.

We also produced new timely blogs such as How to Maintain Your Mental Health During the Pandemic and In The Time Of The 2019 Novel Coronavirus Pandemic, Mental Health Has Never Mattered More to reach those who were experiencing loneliness or anxiety while trapped at home — feelings that could lead to the development of unhealthy gambling behavior.

Connect with the Community

Not everyone with a gambling problem will be ready to admit it, which is why it is essential to spread the message that help is available through multiple channels. Using social media advertising on Facebook and Instagram, our team ran ads to increase awareness with copy and images that spoke to the isolation that many people felt. We linked these to the home page and aforementioned relevant blog posts, along with promoting their new weekly Problem Gambling Webinars and utilizing evergreen content such as Help for Gamblers.

To reach those who may need help, we created a cold audience that showed interest in various types of gambling, games of chance, and video games that are associated with gambling, and a lookalike audience based on users who had previously interacted with 800-GAMBLER online. We also excluded those who had previously interacted with them, to be sure we were reaching out to new audiences.

Spread Awareness

Knowing that a confluence of factors might be luring people to gamble — layoffs, isolation, depression — we needed to be more aggressive than ever in spreading awareness of the resources that CCGNJ has to offer. Therefore, our PPC strategy was to increase brand awareness, which meant putting our ads in the places that people with a gambling problem would be most likely to see them. Normally, this would be sports gambling websites, but this time, we focused more heavily on display ads on sites with online poker and casino games, as well as mobile apps, restructuring our images and copy to align with messaging about the pandemic. Our team used manual CPC and regularly monitored performance in this new endeavor so that we could maintain the most control over our efforts.

We also diverted more of their budget to a video campaign to reach an even broader audience who might not be familiar with CCGNJ’s resources. Our team created a brief video that spoke specifically to those engaging in online gambling during the pandemic. As we saw discovery ad views begin to increase, we also utilized it for in-stream, skippable ads to increase the number of people who would see this timely message.


Our Facebook & Instagram ads earned over 1.9 million impressions, earning 1,000 impressions for every $2.00 spent, reaching over 647,000 people.

Campaigns with the objective of Landing Page Views, leading to the new content and CCGNJ’s new services, found success too, earning landing page views at just $0.93 each!

Impressions and reach increased compared to the previous quarter, while the costs decreased by nearly 30% — achieving what 800-GAMBLER had hoped for.

Display ads and app ads saw a surge in clicks quarter over quarter (Q/Q) — from 2,700 to 9,700 — while the average cost-per-click (CPC) decreased by 46%.

Video views jumped up 458% — 396,000 more than the previous quarter. And while we increased the video campaign’s budget by 4%, the cost per view decreased $0.07 (81%) and the view rate increased from 13% to 54%.

Q/Q, interactions (clicks and video views) increased from 92k to 494k, while spending 6% less!

The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching impacts that few could've predicted. With many businesses closing across New Jersey and thousands being laid off or working remotely, people’s lives were virtually upended. Gamblers who used to haunt the casino moved to the realm of online gambling, and people who may have never had a problem with gambling may have turned to it as an outlet. Thanks to our timely efforts, we were able to raise awareness during a difficult and unprecedented time — ultimately helping more people get the support they need to look to a brighter future.


Video for Spreading a Message of Hope for Problem Gamblers During Unprecedented Times

Entrant Company / Organization Name

1SEO Digital Agency, The Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey