The Rise of Video in Higher Education Marketing

Carnegie Higher Ed Jul 10, 2019 Carnegie Higher Ed Persona The Visionary Frontrunner

If you subscribe to even one video streaming service, you are a part of a new audience and a big reason why so many advertisers are putting more and more of their budgets toward digital video. Marketing dollars have been shifting from traditional to digital for nearly two decades, but now within the realm of digital advertising, video is on the rise. With what is expected to make up nearly half of the $30 billion in spending of all US programmatic digital Display ads, video advertising is no longer an option for higher education marketing strategies—it’s a necessity. 

Take advantage of video ads on YouTube

First, let’s look at YouTube—the second-largest search engine—as an option for digital video advertising. YouTube is extremely influential in people’s online activity, with more than 30 million users on the platform every day consuming content and watching ads. As of 2019, streaming video on websites like YouTube accounts for over two-thirds of all internet traffic. By 2020, this number is expected to jump to 82%. 

Not convinced your marketing strategy needs video? A recent study from Google reported that video content on YouTube was shown to have a significant—and positive—impact on higher education enrollment. The study revealed that “80% of prospective students who planned to attend an online university said that watching an online video influenced their application.” In addition, “prospective students who have submitted an information request form do 1.5x as much digital research compared to prospective students who have yet to fill out a form.”

These statistics make one thing very clear: a well-crafted video combines brand awareness with an emotional call to action to drive unprecedented engagement from prospective students. Is your institution investing in video to engage prospective freshmen and parents?

By now you may be thinking, this all sounds great, but I don’t have any videos appropriate for YouTube. 

Remember that three-minute video you created for your website introducing the new graduate program? You can take 15- or 30-second snippets of that and repurpose it as part of your YouTube Retargeting campaign! Any video asset can be easily repurposed and re-edited for YouTube advertising. 

Let me leave you with one final statistic: studies show millennials are twice as likely to prefer YouTube over traditional television. Your audience is on YouTube—are you?

Use programmatic buying and OTT to target your audience with laser focus

In the age of TV, advertisers were handcuffed to the “spray and pray” method—send out an ad, hope it finds the intended audience. It reached a fraction of viewership at best. In the days of traditional TV, thousands of dollars were spent on branding efforts through video advertising to an unknown audience. Ads for colleges could be played in the back of a pizza parlor or in a waiting room at the doctor’s office—not very efficient.

Today, a new player in the world of video has completely upended this old system. Everyday consumers are canceling their cable subscriptions completely and turning to streaming services and devices like Roku, Apple TV, and YouTube TV. 

Studies have shown 71% of all US households now engage with streaming content at least once per month and that 65% of Gen Z/millennials engage on an average of four or more streaming subscriptions. In addition, with recent studies from eMarketer, the forecast for 2019 says that “Americans will spend more time on their smartphones (and tablets) than watching traditional TV.”

These consumers, known as cord cutters in the digital advertising world, are changing the way we think about TV advertising. How do we reach them? Is it even possible, or is this audience lost to advertisers completely? 

Introducing OTT—Over the Top—where advertisers capitalize on new tactics for reaching “cord-cutters” through streaming media. With this new form of media consumption, where the viewer has full control, advertisers profit as they begin to target users not based on when and what they watch but rather the behavior of each user.  With programmatic buying, marketers can target specific audiences and demographics, combining the rich, emotionally charged format of video with laser-focused targeting.

What does this mean for your college or university’s enrollment marketing plan? With a hesitant adoption rate from higher education so far in 2019, opportunity abounds for newcomers to utilize the hyper-targeting options of interest-based and demographic targeting and get ahead of the surge. Adding OTT tactics to your overall marketing strategy can set you out ahead of the pack and measurably move the needle for your enrollment efforts.

The rise of video in your higher education marketing strategy

This year is shaping up to be a big one for the rise of digital video, YouTube, and streaming services alike. As of now, the playing field is pretty wide open, with opportunities for the first higher ed advertisers in the space to see impressive results. But don’t wait—pretty soon the field will be full, and standing out from the pack may become more and more difficult. 

Your prospective Classes of 2024 and 2025 are streaming videos. Are they watching you?

Want more information about video advertising in higher education? Check out our other blogs on utilizing video on Facebook ads or how to use SEO to make your organic videos more visible.

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