I have a problem. My family knows, my relatives know, my coworkers know, and Google is also very aware of my love for cats and everything that is cats. Yes…we have a cat hammock that suctions to our sliding glass door and allows my big orange kitty to lazily lounge in the sun each day. And yes, I purchased this silly (I can admit it) product because I saw an ad for it in my Facebook newsfeed one day.
Did you know that Google, Facebook, and Instagram are all intuitive and understand your likes/dislikes by the things you look at online? Did you think it was a coincidence that you get ads in your newsfeed or online every day for things that peak your interest? It most definitely is not a coincidence but more like a science. Every time you see an ad online, there is a reason. You are not seeing the same ads as your neighbor or even the same people living in your own house. As a university, this means you have the ability to target anyone online based on their interests and their online behaviors and put your school smack dab in front of them with display advertising when it is crucial for them to see you.
By now I hope you know about the super-cool digital tools like IP Targeting, Mobile Location Targeting, and Mobile Footprints that allow you to get in front of lists of students or even a whole high school population with display advertising. These are designed to be used strategically at different times throughout the year, but what about those people who aren’t on your list, or those months when you’re not running IP Targeting? I can’t stress enough the importance of having a constant branding and awareness display campaign running throughout the year. Unfortunately, branding and awareness strategies are sometimes not deemed as important because they don’t have the same level of conversions as Retargeting or Facebook. However, with the hyper-focused behavioral and in-market targeting available through Google, and the ability to target by academic level and demographic information with Carnegie’s Audience Select, it is easier than ever to find those people who might be interested in you…if they knew about you.
The purpose of a thoughtful branding campaign is to use display advertising to put your school in front of an audience that is in the market for an education and make them aware of you and what you have to offer. There is a reason Chevrolet pays millions of dollars to air their truck commercials during football games…they know the audience who is watching is very likely to be interested in their product. Does that mean whoever sees that commercial is going to drop everything at that very moment and run out to buy a new truck? Maybe…but more than likely they will first grab whatever electronic device is closest to them and go to the Chevy website. Hopefully after that (if Chevy is running a thoughtful ad campaign) the person will continue to be Retargeted with ads for Chevrolet in order to try and entice that person to continue with the buying journey.
The same can be said for a good branding campaign for your institution. It is more important than ever to expand your reach and build your brand with college-bound students. Don’t overlook the importance of staying in market all year with a targeted display campaign, and try not to hyper-focus on the direct conversions…you probably won’t see them, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t working! Most conversions will come from the Retargeting part of your campaign, and remember that they wouldn’t have been Retargeted if they hadn’t gone to your site initially. Display advertising is one of the most powerful tools we have available to reach our intended audience, and all good digital campaigns should have this element built in throughout the year. Just remember, branding and awareness ultimately lead to conversions…just ask my cat.