IFAW goes online

YARMOUTH PORT, MA: The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) recently launched an online-video campaign geared toward increasing environmental awareness of pollution's effect on animals across the globe.

YARMOUTH PORT, MA: The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) recently launched an online-video campaign geared toward increasing environmental awareness of pollution's effect on animals across the globe.

Videos of IFAW's work, from cleaning penguins after an oil spill to freeing gorillas in Africa, began appearing on YouTube's nonprofit channel in December.

A switch from traditional online advertising to emerging technology presented unchartered territory for the 40-year-old non- profit, but IFAW said the shift
was necessary.

"There's a lot of noise out there right now, and we have a lot of great stories to tell," said Cassandra Koenen, IFAW's director of online campaigns and marketing. "The best way to tell them, we've found, is visually. And it's so much cooler to see it through a funky video passed along by a friend than a banner ad."

Hoping to leverage the popularity of the films, IFAW plans on furthering its technological outreach. Later this month, the MA-based organization plans to unveil a Second Life site, showing poachers on a virtual African savannah to illustrate the horrors of the practice. It also plans to step up its mobile device text messaging campaign. "It's all a very good fit for us," Koenen noted.

IFAW started posting short videos on YouTube to reach a younger audience and cut costs. Data gathered from TubeMogul. com showed December 2007 traffic to all of IFAW's video uploads increasing 480% with more than 37,000 views. The nonprofit has also gained loyal college-aged volunteers, who conduct their own word-of-mouth outreach.

IFAW says it will continue to produce more videos. On January 2, it dispatched a team to Argentina for another oil-spill cleanup of 430 steamer ducks and Magellanic penguins.

IFAW spent approximately $20,000 for the Second Life site and an additional few thousand dollars for video production.

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