Cancer research UK makes every pound count with dynamic creative

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insights thought leadership 03.30.2023

dynamic creative optimization for cancer research UK

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) is the world’s largest independent cancer research organisation. Following the Covid-induced disruption of recent years, CRUK planned to relaunch one of its most profitable fundraising pillars: Race for Life (RFL). The end goal? To make this the most locally relevant, national campaign ever.

cherish wirabangsa
product marketing director

It was clear from the start that CRUK needed to drive consideration from new audiences, most notably men. According to, 83% of men take part in charitable events each year and are 20% more likely than women to support medical research, so it was imperative that Race for Life appeal to men, as well as women, to drive further growth. ​

Knowing that most participants don’t travel more than 10 miles for a race, locality was key for this campaign. It was also crucial for CRUK to drive relevance to achieve their objectives. With 22% of their hundreds of races taking place in May, and a further 63% finishing by the end of June, a traditional, national approach would generate tremendous wastage. GroupM Nexus’s cross channel platform was the solution. ​

To achieve these goals, CRUK turned to EssenceMediacom, Creative Futures and GroupM Nexus with its cross-channel solution, Unmissable.  Unmissable is a GroupM Nexus collaboration that delivers programmatic media at broadcast scale, bringing together the power of Finecast, Xaxis, and Sightline into one cross channel execution, enabling clients to activate a single campaign across broadcaster video-on-demand (BVOD), digital audio, digital out-of-home (DOOH), mobile, premium digital video, and premium display.  Unmissable leverages one common optimisation and measurement framework enabling fluid budget allocation to attain one common campaign goal. With a geo led, privacy-oriented cookieless targeting solution, it future proofs against the dependence on cookies and device IDs.

the results we achieved in this campaign exceeded our expectations. we were able to strategically reallocate our budget and reach our target audiences which helped us relaunch race for life and raise vital funds for cancer research

jo brayhead of brand & marketing strategy, cancer research UK

our collective approach

This collaboration between GroupM Nexus solutions powered a ground-breaking hyperlocal programmatic strategy on a national scale. Unmissable allowed for hyper-localised media control, and for CRUK, this meant balancing inventory around each race location, ensuring adverts were seen at the right frequency, no matter the channel or device. To minimise wastage, media across all channels, including broadcast, were switched off just before each race took place. Spend was then redistributed back into the plan to continue supporting active races. On top of this, the client’s real-time sign-up data was used to identify which events needed further media support which helped boost sign-up performance.

Unmissable leveraged location-based data, audience insights, and client first-party data to activate and optimise a breadth of programmatic channels in real time. In addition, this campaign leveraged Choreograph Create for dynamic creative optimisation to ensure that relevant advertising and creative content was delivered across media channels using valuable data on every impression for all 131 races across the UK. The campaign was also the first to utilise GroupM Nexus solutions to incorporate the client’s first-party data to inform in-flight optimisation and drive budget effectiveness.

Cross channel delivery was executed through a single point of entry with in-flight optimisations based on a single view of performance against all channels and optimised to drive maximum concentration and channel mix for each geographic area. This allowed CRUK to boost its presence in standout districts and to redirect budget from already completed races into races that were still live, maximising reach and budget.


Cancer Research UK results
Cancer Research UK results

data driven results

By creating more than 1,000 tailored ads using a blend of audience and location-based insights, CRUK’s Race for Life campaign supported 131 individual events through impactful programmatic channels, achieving:

  • 6x uplift in sign-up intent amongst males when compared to benchmarks.
  • Overall, 3 out of 5 people were likely to sign up.
  • 75% uplift in audience engagement when ad content was tailored.
  • 40% increase in awareness for Race for Life amongst its core female 18-55 audience.
  • £64k additional media efficiencies driven through tailored creative.
  • £700K in media efficiencies, enabling CRUK to reinvest 40% of its dedicated budget into the campaign and heighten engagement around live races, as well as drive results for under-performing events.

The campaign generated impactful outcomes, with two-thirds of those exposed to an ad taking an action and 1 in 5 making a donation to CRUK.

the unmissable factor

Unmissable achieved this using first-party data overlaid with You Gov data, enabling cookieless targeting across channels. This granular, data driven approach to media and messaging is set to transform how CRUK supports its fundraising events and paves the way forward for brands looking to localise their campaigns while activating on a national scale.

our solutions

This campaign was conducted in partnership with: GroupM Nexus, Choreograph, Xaxis, Finecast, EssenceMediacom, Kinetic, and Xaxis Creative Studios.

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