College Marketing Relies on Range of Media

May 10, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Magazines | Out-of-Home | Radio | Television | Youth & Gen X

More than 47% of American colleges, including more than 59% of private colleges, use some sort of online advertising to market the college, while 80% have advertised on radio and 26% on cable TV, according to a study from Primary Research Group.

The Survey of College Marketing Programs explores television, radio, newspaper and magazine advertising, direct mail, college viewbook and magazine publishing, and use of web ads, blogs, search marketing, and other internet-related marketing.

Some findings from the study:

  • 17.7% of the colleges surveyed engaged in some form of search engine marketing: More than a quarter of private colleges and slightly more than 10% of public colleges.
  • 15.7% have used podcasts as a way to market the college. Podcasts were used most by the research universities.
  • Close to 86% of the colleges publish a viewbook; all of the private colleges in the sample and three quarters of the public colleges do so.
  • The mean number of traditional print viewbooks distributed by the surveyed colleges in 2006 was 12,954.
  • 29.4% of the colleges offered a PDF version of the viewbook.
  • Some 23% said they are printing fewer and fewer viewbooks each year.
  • More than twice as many colleges said they had increased the amount of direct mail for marketing the college over the past two years than those that said they had decreased the amount.
  • About 61% of the colleges said they include a virtual tour of the college campus on the college website. Larger colleges were somewhat more likely than smaller ones to do so.
  • Only 20% of the community colleges had a virtual tour of the campus on the college website.
  • The colleges received a mean of 53.5% of their applications through the college website, and this figure ranged from 0 to 100%.
  • 20.5% of the colleges have an employee on the college enrollment, marketing, public relations or admissions staff who is assigned the role of responding to comments about the college or otherwise providing information about the college to bloggers.
  • 13.7% of the colleges use any form of paid advertising service from Google.
  • Mean annual spending on advertising agencies was $28,800, with median spending of $5,000.
  • More than 75% of the colleges published their own magazines about the college.
  • Close to 80% of the colleges have advertised on the radio.
  • 26.4% of the colleges have advertised on cable television within the previous two years.

The data in the report are broken out by enrollment size, type of college, public/private status, and the extent to which colleges draw their applicants from the local area. Fifty-five colleges completed an exhaustive questionnaire for the study, according to Primary Research Group.

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