It is said that Higher Education student recruitment is a 4 billion dollar business – and that is just in the US. We were crunching the numbers the other day, comparing the number of freshies with the average cost of recruiting a student, and we are going to suggest that that number is probably really kind of low. But, it’s a big number.
(12/2016 Update: Online Advertising in the US alone will exceed $59 billion)
As competition for students becomes more intense, so much more interesting become the ways in which schools market their programs, campuses, and campus life offerings. However a percentage of every media spend are still display and banner ads, social media, google adwords – and sometimes the feeling is that you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. As a recent article in The Economist discusses the state of advertising today –
“It was not meant to be like this. Half of an advertiser’s budget is wasted, says the industry’s favourite truism, but no one knows which half. Digital ads were supposed to help. Cookies and other tags would direct the right advertisements to the right people, based on their activity online. Digital tools would track which ads inspire consumers to buy products. … But as advertisers have gained greater control in some respects, they have lost it in others. One fear is practical: that they are paying for online ads that consumers don’t see, either because they are shown to robots, or tucked in obscure slots …”
Are students seeing your ads? Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, and sometimes they just might see them far too often. When we set up online ad campaigns for clients we are always looking for a happy balance. We both want results, and neither of us want to waste money. What we don’t advise is the use of tracking pixels or the same for retargeting display ad placement.
Tracking pixels tell your ads to show up on sites where people who have either visited your site or have shown interest in your product might then be visiting – and in the case of college students this invariably means gaming, online shopping, or even porn. Do you want your school advertised on a porn site? No. And yet it can happen.
So, be careful; understand all the parameters, and make sure you have as much control over ad placement as possible. While banner ads are a necessary part of brand recognition, the serious leads are made when connecting one on one with potential students.