Last week Google announced a big change to their AdWords platform with the roll-out of Enhanced Campaigns. Enhanced campaigns are designed to help advertisers more successfully market to customers who are searching across multiple devices. While there will definitely be some growing pains along the way, the end goal of being able to more smartly target users and manage fewer campaigns is a positive one.
Let me take a moment to summarize the key changes:
- Separate campaigns for targeting desktops, tablets, and mobile devices will disappear.
- Optimization by device is still possible through separate ad text and creative bid adjustments
- Not looking for Mobile traffic? Unfortunately you can only limit, not exclude 100%
- Geo-targeting is still very much an option!
- Landing pages can be tracked based on device, but all urls (within the same campaign) must share the same root domain
- What are we losing?
- The option to run Mobile-ONLY campaigns
- Mobile WAP device targeting
An “all-in” approach can lead to greater efficiency and performance over time. Bringing all AdWords campaigns, regardless of device, under one roof allows you to construct “smarter” campaigns that interplay with each other to great benefit – managing bids for a wide variety of different contexts, for example, or customizing a single campaign to be multi-device compatible.
If you haven’t jumped on the mobile bandwagon yet, expanding campaigns to target mobile devices provides the opportunity for more traffic, leads, and enrollments. There is a new pool of prospective students that can be targeted through mobile devices. In terms of management, the additional reporting and targeting features, such as those for site-links and the display network, will provide more opportunity for testing.
The Bad (disappointing!):
For early adopters that followed the Google mantra on campaign separation for search versus content, desktop versus mobile, WAP versus smart phone, we feel a bit slighted. Hours (days!) of work to allow for separate bid strategies, ad copy, and budget allocation; all of which previously produced a list of advantages for the advertiser such as lower CPCs, is potentially lost. These changes bring a loss of some level of control and transparency, which is always tough news for a paid search enthusiast to swallow. Leveraging mobile targeting as a low cost barrier to entry may be a thing of the past. What’s worse, the next few months means more hours (days!) restructuring programs to meet the latest Google features and limitations.
Enhanced campaign options will start rolling out to advertisers within the next few weeks, and all campaigns are scheduled to be upgraded by June 2013. If you are an advertiser, this affects YOU. You need to react with customized implementation plans and understand how this can impact your accounts – regardless of how sophisticated you are with your paid search marketing today.
After taking some time to really understand what this upgrade means for our schools, we agree that it certainly puts us in a better long-term position, particularly in terms of ease-of-use and believing that “the sum is greater than the parts.” We’ll plan on providing an update on how things are performing post-upgrade once we have a few months of data, so stay tuned!
- Eight Brilliant Minds on the Future of Online Education (
Bloomberg) Grand Canyon’s DREAMers ( Inside Higher Ed) Local College Students Are Giving Out Compliments for Free ( Boston.com) My Valuable, Cheap College Degree ( The New York Times) A Case for College: The Unemployment Rate for Bachelor’s-Degree Holders Is 3.7 Percent (The Atlantic) Schools and For-Profit Managers Don’t Mix, Skeptics Say ( NBCNews.com) Role of Accreditors in Student Learning Discussed Wednesday ( Diverse: Issues in Higher Education) Venture Capitals’ Massive Terrible Idea for the Future of College ( The Awl)
Beneath the placid surface of the Internet, an epic battle is being waged at this moment between Jonathan Coulton, an independent musician known for creating the theme songs for the two Portal video games and well loved by geeks (including myself), and the Fox Broadcasting show Glee. Fallout from the war is significant, with tens of thousands of social media mentions over the last five days, a campaign to drop a Glee iTunes song to a one star review, and the sales of Coulton’s cover of Glee’s cover of Coulton’s cover of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s Baby Got Back skyrocketing (it’s confusing but, trust me, I’ll explain it in a second), and, while the outcome of the war might not have huge implications for the higher education marketing world, this entire situation should serve as a cautionary tale regarding the amazing ability to amplify conversations presented by networked markets.
Just to get everyone up to speed, here’s the skinny:
JAN. 18, 2013
Jonathan Coulton was alerted to the unofficial Glee Wikia, which suggested a future episode may include a performance of a cover he made of Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.” Coulton’s version originally appeared on his 2005 album Thing a Week One and features an folksy arrangement and some changed lyrics from the original Mix-a-Lot version. Also, a duck quacks to cover up an expletive. (It’s probably worth noting here that Coulton releases his music under a non-commercial Creative Commons license, which allows other people to share and remix his songs, provided that it’s not for commercial purposes and that it is properly attributed to him. Ironically, the Creative Commons licensing may have contributed to this since many folks incorrectly believe that CC-licensed music is totally up for grabs)
An update to Coulton’s post, also made on Jan. 18, points out that he hasn’t been contacted by Glee or Fox and that the song is visible in the Swedish iTunes store with the artist listed as “Glee Cast.” Coulton also posts a stereo comparison of the two songs on Soundcloud (available here), which plays his version in the left channel and Glee’s version in the right channel.
JAN. 20, 2013
Coulton posts another update to his original post, mentioning that he’s still trying to figure out what’s going on and recommending that his followers donate to the Electronic Frontier Foundation or Creative Commons if they want to help out.
JAN. 23, 2013
Paul Potts, head of the Geek Like Me, Too blog, published a post analyzing the audio of the duck quack from the two versions of the song, finding them to be substantially similar (Though, as anyone who watches Mythbusters knows, duck quacks have some strange acoustic features).
- Can Virtual Classrooms Recreate A Traditional College Experience? (
Mashable) States Slash Higher Education Budgets – Again ( The Fiscal Times) University of Phoenix Online Platform Receives Patent ( International Business Times) Higher Ed’s Biggest Problem: What’s It For? ( The Chronicle of Higher Education) College Dropout Crisis Revealed in ‘American Dream 2.0′ Report ( The Huffington Post) Cal Grant Eligibility Rules Put Squeeze on For-Profit Colleges ( CBS Local)
Over the past year, the team at Google has rolled out a variety of new features and improvements to the Google Analytics package. These changes have made this free tool even more robust when it comes to making data-driven decisions about your website. Here is a list of the four new features that we recommend every website use in order to increase its visibility and improve the experience to its visitors.
Prior to the release of the Content Experiments feature, performing tests to optimize landing pages or content on your site required the use of Google Website Optimizer (GWO) or other third party tools. Now that GWO has been integrated into Google Analytics and renamed Content Experiments, you can test page variations and have all of your analytics data included in the reporting and results. Setting up a test is as simple as creating up to five different pages and establishing a conversion metric. When paired with advanced segments and profile filters, you can easily slice the data to see how the page performed with each of your visitors. Although the tool is limited to just testing a few elements on each page, the overall ease of use allows any website to use Content Experiments to optimize the conversion funnel.
- California State U. Will Experiment With Offering Credit for MOOCs (
The Chronicle of Higher Education) For-Profit College Shuts Down, Leaving Students Out in the Cold ( The Huffington Post) For-profit college Rasmussen cuts tuition amid industry-wide enrollment declines ( Minnesota Public Radio) Community College Funding Shrinks, For-Profit Enrollment Grows: Treasury Report ( The Huffington Post) Measuring the Success of Online Education ( The New York Times) 4 Online Education Program Considerations for International Students ( U.S. News And World Report)
In a previous post, we discussed the initial intentions of Executive Order 13607. The Order was signed on April 27, 2012 and called for accountability from educational institutions and vendors concerning recruitment and enrollment of veterans, military personnel, and their families. The Department of Defense, Veterans Administration, and Department of Education have taken steps since April to ensure schools are fair and honest when communicating with veterans and their families about education. Below is a timeline of the events that have transpired since the Order was signed.
Guidelines (called the Principles of Excellence) were established for schools who receive Federal funding
Schools that participate in the Principles of Excellence program are encouraged to:
- Provide students personalized information regarding the total cost of the program
- Provide educational plans for all military and veteran education beneficiaries
- End fraudulent and aggressive recruiting techniques and misrepresentation
- Accommodate service members and reservists absent due to service requirements
- Designate a point of contact for academic and financial advising
- Ensure accreditation of all new programs prior to enrolling students
- Align institutional refund policies with those under Title IV
The Financial Aid Shopping Sheet was created
This sheet is to be available to all students prior to enrollment, and will list disclosure fees and financial eligibility. While it is not yet mandatory, it is strongly encouraged for each school wishing to participate in military recruitment and enrollment. The Secretary of Defense will require a signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) from any educational institution participating in the Department of Defense Tuition Assistance programs once the regulations have been finalized. The shopping sheet will then be a requirement of the MOU.
The term “GI Bill” was registered as a trademark
In taking this action, the government ensured all potential students were directed towards the correct information concerning GI Bills and benefits. They hope to lessen the confusion surrounding what the GI Bill is and who can apply. Schools and vendors can no longer use it simply as a marketing practice. To stay in accordance with this new provision, when using the term it must now have a “TM” or the encircled “R” on the first use of the term, then capitalized throughout the entirety of the copy.
The remainder of the implementation is scheduled to roll out over the next several months. The Department of Defense, Veterans Administration, and Department of Education would like to develop tools to compare education institutions, discover veteran outcome measures, develop reviews to assess compliance with the eight principles of excellence, and develop a centralized complaint system. The centralized complaint system is scheduled to début in the spring of 2013. This would allow students to post concerns about recruitment from schools and vendors, as well as house a history of all complaints and questions concerning Veterans’ struggles with obtaining information about college. With this history, the trending data for each school and vendor can be analyzed and investigated if needed.
To learn more about the progression of Executive Order 13607 and the compliance landscape for educational institutions, check out the recording of our latest webinar, “The Complex World of Compliance”.
Frequently on the CUnet blog, we discuss the nitty gritty details of marketing in the education sector. Over the last year, we’ve kept you updated on new media usage in education, taken some deep looks into how analytics inform evidence-based business practices, and, hopefully, provided our readers with valuable insight into effective marketing strategies and tactics. That being said, 2012 was an absolutely great year for higher education advertising campaigns, so let’s take a look back and reflect on some of the visionary, entertaining and just plain cool campaigns that schools have produced over the last year.
10. The University of San Francisco
Produced by Hub Strategy, the University of San Francisco rolled out clever advertisements that graced the sides of bus shelters, billboards and even spread to online banner advertisements and print media early this year. Eschewing the traditional San Francisco imagery of the Golden Gate Bridge, the advertisements were tailored to speak to San Franciscans by providing witty, on-brand commentary and in-jokes about the school.
9. Ozark Technical Communication College
Ozarks Technical Community College, a school in Springfield, MO with an enrollment of 15,000 students, launched a local television campaign that plays to one of the school’s strengths by comparing their $3,300 annual tuition to the cost of large proprietary competitors like Bryan University and ITT Tech.
Attacking the price-point of a school may seem like a low blow, but marketing isn’t about being nice. Good campaigns are designed to find the pain points of an audience and craft a compelling narrative about your own brand. Another interesting point about this campaign is that it showcases the ability for small, local schools to exploit that close-to-home aspect of their character when competing with national brands. While the national brands do frequently do some tailoring of television ads for local markets, that tailoring is limited.
8. University of Bristol
Okay, yes, yes, I know. QR codes are kind of old news and, realistically, they do seem to be ignored by most consumers, but the University of Bristol’s QR-code billboard is an awesome idea. Instead of plopping an ugly, white and black, two-dimensional square on an existing advertisement, the school used the iconic imagery of the Clifton Suspension Bridge for its billboard, hiding the QR code within the bridge’s form. “It was important that whatever we did to get the message out there had to live up to the extremely high academic standard and overall world-class reputation of the university,” Bristol’s direct of communication strategy and marketing, David Alder, told The Drum. “Hence the rather clever use of QR code in the design creative and the use of the design out of doors, meaning that more people could actually interact with it and discover what the ad is trying to get across.”
7. American University
Originally created in 2010, American University’s WONK campaign was recognized with a CASE Circle of Excellence Award in 2012. The AU Wonk campaign is a integrated university-wide marketing campaign designed to promote American University’s brand objectives by strengthening the school’s academic and research reputation, enhance the quality and diversity of both undergraduate and graduate enrollment and improve engagement, support and advocacy among alumni. The school worked with SimpsonScarborough, a company that specializes in higher education brand strategy and market research, to conduct thousands of quantitative and qualitative interviews to form the underlying brand strategy and identify triggers and the campaign tone. In total, the school spent about $555,000 during the development and enactment of the campaign, which spanned social media websites, physical out-of-home advertising displays, a redesign of the school’s Welcome Center and on-campus events.
That total price may seem high, but initial results seem to indicate that it was well spent. American University reports that campus campaign awareness is extremely high (around 90 percent), the university’s website has seen a 35 percent increase in traffic and a 21 percent increase in page views, and the school’s admissions website has received an 88.9 percent increase in traffic. Fall applications for the school also increased by 25 percent.
The total cost of education has been growing faster than the rate of inflation for decades, and 2012 seemed to be the year when the effects of this trend finally entered the public consciousness. Not a week goes by without another article appearing in my news feed on the sky-rocketing cost of tuition, or massive student debt. Everyone was talking about it, from the 2012 Presidential campaign trail, to the Occupy Wall Street protests, to the education blogosphere. On a recent trip to Denver, I spotted a billboard that read, “Kiss Student Loans Goodbye”. Upon further inspection I realized that it was part of a Denver transit system marketing campaign to encourage transit usage. I was amazed to see that the concept of student debt has become such a part of everyday life.
So when I started thinking about what 2013 might hold for higher education, I couldn’t shake the thought that this year must bring with it action. Action on the part of politicians, who are feeling pressure from their constituents to do something to curb the cost of education. Action on the part of colleges and universities, which will be forced to examine their traditional way of doing business. And action on the part of consumers, who will begin to make more conscious choices around their post-secondary education.
2012 Marketing Predictions • CUnet • Inquiry Management • Mobile • Paid Search Advertising • Search Engine Optimization • Social Media :
2012 ended this week, and while many people are making resolutions for the new year ahead, we thought we would take a moment and look back at the last year. The CUnet blog was a popular spot this year, with our readership growing by over 95 percent since December 2011, and while we think all of our blog posts are pretty great (shameless self promotion… check!), there were a few topics that seemed to be of particular interest to our readers. So, we’ve run the numbers and sliced the data to compile the top five most popular topics on the CUnet blog for 2012. Without further ado, here’s how it all shook out:
Search Engine Optimization
In one of our very first posts of 2012, (SEO in 2012: The Top 11 Things You Need to Know), we predicted some big changes to SEO, with the biggest change being that mobile surfing could overtake desktop surfing in the near future. And as the year progressed, we definitely saw things move in that direction. For the first time in years, desktop web search declined, according to the Macquarie Group in September, and the increase in mobile search seems to be the biggest reason for this decline. Our SEO post also included hot topics such as more localization to search inquiries, search engines become smarter at determining your intent when making a query (we saw Google actually update their algorithms late in 2012), and an increase in rich snippets (which help with your search rankings).
Mobile campaigns became a big part of CUnet’s marketing offerings for its clients in 2012, and they are proving to be a highly successful marketing channel. As we noted in our mobile case study results post, inquiries from our mobile campaigns have resulted in a cost-per-enrollment (CPE) of up to 30 percent lower than those from other inquiry generation channels. Early in the year we posted our 2012 mobile marketing trends where we predicted that 50 percent of all cell phone users in the U.S. would own a smart phone (in March 2012, that statistic was confirmed), and that sales of tablets would increase as competition grew and prices decreased. With more and more people accessing the Internet on mobile devices rather than their PCs, it soon became clear that building mobile-friendly sites would offer a better user experience for our clients’ potential students. However, as we noted in the post Decloaking the Google WAP Mobile Universe many mobile users still own feature phones, so not all of a school’s mobile marketing efforts should be targeted to smart phone users. Targeting both smart phone users and feature phone users is important in making sure you are making the most of your mobile campaigns.
You may still be groaning over Facebook’s transition to Timeline, but we hope CUnet’s Social Media Strategist Jeff Berg’s handy guides – Five Things You Must Know About The New Facebook Brand Timelines and OH NOES! A Step-By-Step Guide to Getting Your Page Ready for Facebook’s Timelines! – helped ease you into the new profile layouts. But Jeff’s expertise doesn’t end with making your Facebook pages look pretty. In the post Measuring Success in Social Media Campaigns, he also provides valuable insight into how you can (and why you should) track the ROI and overall success of your social media campaigns.