The Best of Higher Ed Digital Marketing in 2016

Carnegie Higher Ed Jan 09, 2017 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

As we kick off 2017 with great excitement as to what it will bring to the digital marketing landscape, the New Year is also a good time to look back on the “best of” what 2016 had to offer.

Here are some of the best things we learned, followed, shared, tweeted, and blogged about throughout 2016.

1. Google struck again (and again!)

Last year brought many, many changes from our partners at Google. Here were some of the biggest:

  • Changes to search engine results page. This was one of Google’s biggest alterations of 2016. Essentially, they rid the results page of its right-rail paid search results and decreased the number of available first page ad positions. What does that mean for advertisers? Make sure you have adapted your bidding strategies to ensure you are still appearing in one of those coveted top spots!
  • Release of expanded text ads. This long-anticipated move finally occurred this past summer. With almost 50% more ad text available and an additional headline, expanded text ads will enable you to connect with students in an even more meaningful way. And take note: starting January 31, 2017, AdWords will no longer support the creation or editing of standard text ads.
  • Mobile-first bidding and device bid adjustments. Another important update Google made this past year was the ability to increase or decrease your bid across all devices (desktop, tablet, and mobile). This was really a marketing game changer, as it gives you more flexibility to optimize towards different devices that are seeing higher engagement or conversions.
  • AdWords to get a makeover. Google announced in 2016 it would officially be redesigning the look of AdWords to improve its outdated UI. This new look will help make it easier to navigate, compare, and analyze different data points in order to maximize optimizations and efficiencies throughout multiple campaigns. Small updates were rolled out on a limited basis last year, so this is one to watch in 2017!

These are just a few of the changes made by Google in 2016, but here is a nice summary of some other enhancements to review to ensure you are incorporating them into your 2017 campaigns.

2. Mobile marketing took center stage

A mobile-first mentality swept across college campuses in 2016, and higher ed marketers realized like never before their need to have skin in the game.

With so many buzzwords out there, here are a few blogs that summarize all your mobile marketing options:

3. And 2016 was the year to get even more social

Last year we saw a healthy mix of additions and improvements as social media companies continued to innovate, enhance, and acquire new features and functionality. If you missed it, or your New Year’s resolution is to get social in 2017, here are a few social media blogs to help you get started:

4. And last but not least…

2016 was a banner year for Carnegie’s lead generation clients. In 2016 we delivered 5.9 million student leads to our college partners and had over 7 million website visitors to We expect even bigger and better for 2017! Here is all you need to know about Carnegie’s powerful lead generation engine.

3 things to watch in 2017

So, with 2016 behind us, we’re looking ahead at 2017. Here are a few things to watch for:

  1. More Google changes (and lucky for us as a Google Premier Partner we will have a heads up to help our clients stay ahead of them all)
  2. Native advertisements: A form of online paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience on the site where it is placed. While the largest social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, are already doing this with native in-feed ads, now the publishing industry is quickly following suit. Companies/publications such as Time, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and USA Today are all now getting in the game.
  3. OTT advertising: With the introduction of OTT, which stands for “over-the-top,” users are now able to “cut the cord” and bypass the traditional distribution TV content and instead consume via the Internet through OTT apps and services. This opens up a whole new channel (pun intended) for advertisers. Stay tuned! (Yes, pun intended again!)

As you continue mapping your recruitment marketing plans for the upcoming year, if you would like a little help in any of these areas, let us know. Here’s to a great 2017!

You can follow me on Twitter @adpoulin.

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