June 24, 2019 | Programmatic
School is full of competition. Students are competing to get accepted, competing for scholarships and competing for honor roll and the Dean’s list once they’re in. Higher education institutions are not exempt from the competition—they’re in a constant battle to capture the attention of prospective students and win the race for enrollment. As a result, higher education marketers need to find innovative and cost-effective ways to bring quality, prospective students to their programs amidst this increasingly competitive market.

College admissions directors have reported a great deal of concern about meeting their enrollment goals. In fact, with the exception of public doctoral institutions, over 50% of respondents from every institution, polled by Inside Higher Ed, have high anxiety about filling classes. The audience they need to reach is progressively savvy, always on the move and constantly refocusing their attention on new platforms to meet their social needs and desires. Higher education institutions need to keep up!

There are some common sets of challenges that have surfaced across all programs, including:

  • The need to meet enrollment targets
  • Drive qualified applicants to websites
  • Promote awareness of programs, degrees, and certifications — both in-class and online

Paired with a lack of visibility into marketing budgets across the institution, building awareness and driving enrollments can be conflicting goals, but they don’t need to be. When trying to reach multiple markets and personas at once, programmatic advertising can help higher education marketers achieve their goals.

Programmatic is using technology to help you buy digital media and it comes with a plethora of data that you can leverage. By combining detailed user information with programmatic advertising, you can more effectively identify which prospective students will be receptive to marketing from your institution, reach hyper-targeted audiences and achieve cost-efficient recruitment results.

How to leverage programmatic for your advertising efforts

Introducing programmatic into your media mix does not mean you should abandon other channels. You should try to bridge all of the channels available to you. You can often use some of the assets you have in your search and social campaigns for your other programmatic channels. For example, headlines and descriptions can been taken from search ads, and social creatives can be repurposed, especially for native ads.

The higher education audience is typically mobile-focused and pretty tech-savvy, making this audience a bit harder to pin down. These individuals gravitate to diverse digital platforms, and they should be able to find you there, too. The best strategy to ensure you are capturing your prospective students, in as many places as they are browsing, is to include display, native and video channels in your marketing mix.

Display ads are very effective to build awareness and lift for your overall campaign. Native ads work best to capture your prospects when they are lower in the funnel and drive engagement for enrollments. Video is great for telling emotional stories, making it perfect for certain types of brand building. Ensuring you have all of these channels in your media plan, along with a strong targeting strategy, will help increase the chances of reinforcing brand recognition and getting prospective students into classrooms.

The beauty of programmatic is that every ad space you purchase is targeted towards a receptive audience, so you are more likely to see a greater return on investment. Programmatic also enables you to adjust your campaigns on the fly, based on comprehensive campaign reporting. And when you know who might be interested in your institution, it’s easier to get across an authentic message that resonates with Gen Z high schoolers, online course classes and continuing education students—all looking forward to their higher education future.

With the right digital partner, you can incorporate programmatic into your media mix with confidence and make the grade for your institution.