The Effectiveness of Digital Interventions on COVID-19 Attitudes and Beliefs

Paper by Susan Athey, Kristen Grabarz, Michael Luca & Nils C. Wernerfelt: “During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, a common strategy for public health organizations around the world has been to launch interventions via advertising campaigns on social media. Despite this ubiquity, little has been known about their average effectiveness. We conduct a large-scale program evaluation of campaigns from 174 public health organizations on Facebook and Instagram that collectively reached 2.1 billion individuals and cost around $40 million. We report the results of 819 randomized experiments that measured the impact of these campaigns across standardized, survey-based outcomes. We find on average these campaigns are effective at influencing self-reported beliefs, shifting opinions close to 1% at baseline with a cost per influenced person of about $3.41. There is further evidence that campaigns are especially effective at influencing users’ knowledge of how to get vaccines. Our results represent, to the best of our knowledge, the largest set of online public health interventions analyzed to date…(More)”