All marketers obsess over “being there” for their audience.  Whether it’s share at the store shelf or share of voice on TV, a variety of metrics are used to judge how present a brand actually is. In higher education marketing, this couldn’t be more true.

  • We strive to reach and influence youth before they are faced with decisions about an educational institution.
  • We hope to create richer connections with the institution for graduates, imparting on them that they are “forever friends”
  • We engage those in the decision making process with content, video, direct mail, and more.

But often institutions of higher learning over-emphasize the power of what’s worked in the past and dedicate a disproportionate budget to traditional media.


Your Audience is on a Smart Device

Mobile devices overtook desktop and laptop in 2013. In fact, 60% of the time weare online, it’s on a mobile device. If your digital presence isn’t optimized for a smartphone, you’re not only behind, you’re depleting your connections. 84% of the population has a second device in hand while they are watching television. 65% check their phones within 15 minutes of rising each morning, and 87% have smartphones on their person 100% of the time. 75% of Facebook users are mobile-only. If you aren’t competing for attention in the digital space or have a mobile strategy, you should be.

Tracking Makes the Difference

Aiming to reach the broadest available audience at once is a worthy goal. This is an “awareness” play that we all know well—using the broadest reach and the largest geographic audience possible, in hopes to move the needle quickly.

Digital advertising offers something that television, billboards and radio never could: trackable interactions. Proof that your placements are working, and the ability to understand who your true audience is and adjust to their preferences quickly.

As you are beginning to navigate the digital space, let’s talk about delivery choices.


You may be hoping to “replace” the television experience with video ads and would like a similar audience. If so, programmatic buying is likely your plan. Buying programmatically means that you select the impression count you can afford, and attach audience attributes as needed, sending your ads to a broad spectrum of sites and placements over a period of time. You’ll name the impression count, audience type and reach, and the digital network will serve your ads in adherence with the “rules” you’ve generated.

Direct Buy

Are you looking for an audience that is consuming specific kinds of content, like entertainment, news, or sports? Get more granular with a direct buy. Going to a trusted site provides a brand-safe platform where your message appears among content categorically. You can choose types of content to live alongside, like sports, for instance. All or some of the sports articles on the site would then contain advertisements for your business. This works for most websites, as buying direct is an easy way to get exactly what you want, rather than leave it to the hands of technology alone.


Either way, the activity with your ads is more trackable than television or radio. You know just how many times your ad appeared and in front of how many individuals. You can dictate the type of person to whom the ad is served and watch as clicks and site traffic increases. Pair this activity with paid search, and you’ll find that attention increases even more.

Whatever your budgeting plan, know that you’ll be among more advertisers than ever before, and your ability to know your audience, understand and track their interactions will be increasingly important.


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