Project Description


In partnership with Building Healthy Online Communities, California Department of Public Health and the Office of AIDS, Water and Stone Marketing developed and executed a controlled pilot to demonstrate the effectiveness of programmatic media in maximizing positive outcomes for public health campaigns.

The program executed 4 separate digital campaigns across 6 California counties with the highest incidence rates of HIV: Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Kern, Sacramento and San Diego counties. Each campaign lasted approximately 5 weeks and placed media across popular dating apps (primarily Grindr and Jack’d) both programmatically and direct through app platforms.


The campaign resulted in several key learning which can help others in the space to maximize their public health outcomes. First, the program produced programmatic benchmarks which can be used for future campaign budgeting and planning. Second, the use of campaign creative illustrates how repurposed creative can be used to minimize development costs and maximize media budgets without sacrificing ad effectiveness. Finally, the campaign confirmed that programmatic app buys are more efficient and effective than direct app buys:

  • Media purchased programmatically served 10x more impressions per dollar spent.
  • Media purchased programmatically drove 3x more clicks per dollar spent.
  • Media purchased programmatically drove 3x more lead actions per dollar spent.

Expected Programmatic vs. Direct Buy Results ($10k)

Using the programmatic and direct buy benchmarks (CPM, CPC, CPL) generated during the campaign, the slider below illustrates the different outcomes one may expect with a $10k media budget purchased programmatically vs. direct through an app.

Use the slider to view the two expected outcomes.


Programmatic KPIs are a result of the media mix purchased via DV360, placed on various dating apps including Grindr and Jack’d. Direct buy KPIs are a result of the media mix purchased directly from Grindr and Jack’d at the lowest CPM.

“Water and Stone’s team is knowledgable, reputable, and fun to work with. They went out of their way to help us learn how to ask the right questions, and help get our project up and running, overcoming many bureaucratic obstacles. This work helped us gather invaluable data that ultimately will save public health dollars. I would work with them again and I would recommend them to a colleague.”

-Jen Hecht, Building Healthy Online Communities

Learn More

Complete the form below to receive the full case study, including:

  • Additional info on programmatic advertising and how it can help you during your next campaign.
  • Detailed campaign benchmarks to help you plan and budget your next campaign.
  • More on sourcing and re-purposing campaign creative and landing pages.