Over 70% of the higher education institutes find banner ads to be the most effective online ad type. This is followed by PPC ads on social media and cookie-driven remarketing ads. Take a look at the study conducted by Ruffalo Noel Levitz in 2017:
This trend isn’t new. In fact, revenue in the banner ad segment stands at US$53,670m in 2018 and is expected to grow annually (CAGR 2018-2022) at 9.6%, resulting in a market volume of US$77,434m by 2022. (Source: Statista)
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Now that we know that it works, it needs to be used, and more importantly, it needs to be used wisely. 30% of internet users say that they find traditional banner advertising annoying, a lot more than 30% don’t even pay attention to it. My experience in the last 13 years of marketing and design tells me the same thing – it’s not easy to do it well. The reason is simple – everyone is doing it. And when so many people doing it, it is difficult to stand out, while simultaneously appealing to the audience, instead of irritating them.
The Big Misconception
It is a misconception that most of the institutions have is that what looks good converts good. Although the look and feel is an important element of the banner ad, it’s nowhere near the most important one. What makes a banner ad for higher education successful, is a strong understanding of the student’s motivation and behavior.
Let’s look at a few of the banner ads from education institutes that are doing a good job of understanding their students’ motivations.
You can’t help but notice when someone looks at you – in real life, and in banner ads. That’s what makes this ad special. Douglas J captures the imagination of its audience with powerful imagery, cursive fonts and strong trigger words like passion, artistic and dreams (all very relevant to the motivations of a student looking to join a beauty school).
Admittedly, being a beauty school makes it a tad easier and natural to use this appeal, but nevertheless, this ad is a very good example of banner advertising done right – it’s almost impossible to resist clicking it.
2. Ryerson University – Ted Rogers MBA
This campaign “Not an old boy” was designed by Bob Ramsey of Ramsey Inc., in collaboration with Paul Haslip of HM&E Design. The tagline itself challenges the status quo and dares its audience to think differently. The use of real students’ images adds credibility and the brave use of Ryerson University’s brand colors adds a sparkling contrast to this ad, creating a great recall. Clicking this ad will take you to the videos of students’ stories, which rounds up the whole campaign really well. The ad challenges its audience to think different, while combining the traditional testimonial approach, creating a fantastic campaign.
With this campaign, London Metropolitan University wanted to highlight diversity, which is a very important part of the identity of the university. The banner ads were part of a broader campaign, that included TV advertisements and an array of social media films. Created by Spectrecom films, this campaign is heart-warming, and emotive, which is what they were going for. Check out the video here.
While the banner ads itself are not the most important parts of the campaign, but, they are a brief peek into what you would experience in the videos, and possibly as a part of the university, making them very powerful. Again, testimonial and emotional appeals are used here.
This super creative ad was created by Team Detroit, currently known as GTB. It is a parody of anti-drug ad campaigns, showing that kids are addicted to art and they can’t help it. The message “Talk to your kids about art school” fits perfectly with this theme. The ad is super-creative and uses humor to reach out to its target audience, which is a good call for an art school.
“The MD Anderson Cancer center invests a lot on marketing research,” says Associate Vice President for Marketing, Alicia Jensen. She further adds –“This is a very competitive and confusing market with a lot of options. We use market research to understand patients and their communities and how they make decisions about cancer, both those who have cancer and those who may be future patients. We view this as part of our educational mission.”
Talking about design, this ad uses simplicity to stand out from the others. After all, the real power is in the message which describes patients as the fighter. A lot of white space makes the message looks distinct and powerful.
Now, this is different. The makers of this ad say
“Imagine a stock photo of a “confident smiling” person standing in front of a “beautiful campus” representing “successful career” and you’ll see pretty much 99% of other universities’ marketing design. However, RU has a rich history and very distinct audience of first generation college attendees with a strong belief in working hard for success. RU needed something unique, something ambitious, something that stood out.”
According to the design agency Nisrat – this ad resulted in a 10% hike in enrollments, which speaks volumes about how much it connected with its target audience.
The campaign tagline “Leadership for good starts here” says it all. The campaign creates an emotional connect with all the stakeholders – alumni, current students and future students. In Paul Bruce, creative director at The Monkeys words “it tries to instill a renewed sense of pride for everyone in being part of the university.” The campaign highlights what the university stands for, while creating an aspirational appeal for the future students, and a sense of pride for the alumni and current students. Wonderfully researched, thought and executed – everything that an advertising campaign should be.
So, that’s it. This was my list of very well-designed and intelligent banner designs for higher education, along with the reasons that make them so. Have you spotted any other banner designs which deserve to be in the list? Let me know in comments.
Pro Tip – When you build a multi-channel advertising campaign, always use a well-optimized landing page in sync with the digital banner ads. This will boost your conversion in a big way. If you want to explore landing pages and other tools which convert inquiries into enrollments – Take a LeadSquared demo and check it out yourself.