Strong Digital Advertising Is Seeing Higher Education Flourish Online

Online education, distance learning, eLearning (however you want to label it), has been thrown into the limelight in recent months. 

This is due to the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The heightened public discourse surrounding the many cases of hastily organized shifts into fully online learning environments has made it easy to forget that this trend has been naturally growing in traction for a number of years.

The growing ubiquity and functionality of the internet over the past two decades has removed location-based restrictions, allowing higher education to become more accessible to a greater number of students. This changing face of higher education, coupled with the rising power of social media, has meant that advertisers working within the industry have had to adapt, becoming increasingly digitally oriented in terms of ad strategy.


The shift towards online

Those education providers who are prioritizing digital channels and investing in high-quality creative have been able to thrive. This has enabled a number of providers to establish and grow their online offerings. With enrollment no longer confined by lecture hall capacity, providers have a new opportunity to expand upon their traditionally consistent student roll. At the same, these lower barriers have opened up the market, allowing new entrants to compete for market share. 

Online learning has clearly become normalized. In 2017, 15% of college students in the United States were enrolled in a fully online program, a trend that has seen a steady rise ever since online education’s arrival in the early 2000s. Driven by exponential technological progress, this changing landscape is starting to define the way in which modern higher education is approached. Learning online is no longer seen to be on the periphery of “normal” education, it has now fully integrated into traditional systems and accepted into the mainstream. 


Impact on advertising strategy

Unsurprisingly, education providers who offer either a fully or partially online service, have focused the majority of their advertising budgets in the digital sphere. Social media platforms are the key pillar in this strategy as these spaces are dominated by suited demographics. 79% of 18-29-year-olds in America use Facebook, and 67% of the same demographic uses Instagram. This huge potential reach, coupled with sophisticated targeting abilities, make such platforms a recruiter’s dream.

Connected TV (CTV) has also become a point of focus for advertisers striving to reach potential students. Cable is no longer a viable option for achieving these objectives as 74% of 18-34-year-olds have either never had cable, have cut their cable, or plan to cut it in the near future.  

The most proven route to success on these digital placements is through investing in high-quality creative. Quality of creative directly correlates with a prospective student’s perceptions regarding a College or University, directly influencing their enrollment choices. Therefore, in order to drive high-quality leads towards enrollment landing pages, providers should ensure that their creative is not neglected. 



Strong digital advertisers are seeing their numbers take off!

Provider No. of Online Learners (2018)
University of Phoenix 165,743
Liberty University 75,044
Walden University 52,799



The importance of optimized video

The utilization of video rather than static imagery is a key marker of quality. Video ads provide education advertisers the ability to communicate a more complex message to prospective students. They are a great tool to efficiently communicate school culture, available programs, enrollment dates, etc… the list goes on and on. Of course, these things can also be communicated to an extent through static ads, however, video is much stronger at capturing attention - leading to much higher levels of engagement and subsequent ROI. 

And the best part: there is no need to break the bank to produce quality video ad creative. Most education providers would have already invested in promotional video content in one form or another. Alternatively, Colleges/Universities have a wealth of static imagery that may have been used on their websites or physical prospectuses. These pieces of content are perfect for re-purposing and can be used on digital placements once optimized.



At Shuttlerock, we work with education providers to do just that, optimizing their existing creative assets into video ads for any digital placement: Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, Hulu - you name it! Our team of animators and motion graphic designers can turn as little as one static image into a suite of video creative assets to be disseminated far and wide across the web.

Start Creating High-Quality On-Brand Video Creative Today