5/14/2020 UPDATE: COVID-19 and the EDU Digital Media Landscape 

A follow-up to to our April 10 post that outlines the effects quarantine has had on digital media consumption in the EDU sector’s target audience. Check out our LinkedIn and Facebook pages for updates as we collaborate in navigating these adverse times.


What We’ve Learned 

Over the past few months, we’ve learned that what we believe to be true today is liable to shift by tomorrow’s morning news. Media forecasting, as we know it, has changed – to sweat over traffic projections and the state of the union simply isn’t the best use of your time.  As some metros prepare to reopen and others rush to reestablish stay-at-home orders, we find ourselves asking the same question we began asking nearly two months ago: “what’s next and how should I be preparing?” As complex as the issue at hand may be, the answer is simple; prepare for the worst and hope for the best. 

Start Before You’re Ready 

We don’t know if quarantine will continue, or if it will end and restart again down the road. What we do know is what happens when lockdown is in effect. We know that the majority of demographics, especially teenagers and young adults, shift considerable portions of time towards social media in what has proven to be generally less-committal or less-engaging digital interactions. We also know that, while mobile users typically out-perform desktop users, desktop traffic has actually been winning out under certain circumstances as people are stuck at home, more and more likely to be active on a computer. 

Armed with an understanding of these activity patterns, we’re able to apply experience and plan for the most likely scenarios. Will this guarantee success in an unforeseeable future? Absolutely not – but the likely hood of history repeating itself is far greater than that of mass conjecture coming to fruition.   

Where to Look 

Unfortunately, not everyone has the budget necessary to hedge their bets and remain effectively present in all paid media channels (but if you have the means, we highly recommend it); what everyone can do is prepare each outlet for its respective time to shine. While many schools place an emphasis on paid search and other lead-generating tactics, you may find yourself in a situation where you need to drive brand-awareness above anything else. In this scenario, you’ll want to deploy tactics like display and video; but if you haven’t prepared content strategy with the current socioeconomic climate in mind, you’ll be scrambling to do so when the attention span of your target audience shifts overnight. Display ads, virtual tours, and campus update pages are all good places to look when auditing the creative assets that you have at your disposal. 

Three Reminders: Messaging, Messaging, Messaging 

To expand on the messaging recommendation we made in the first installment of this blog, auditing all existing ad copy would be the first step in assessing a tactic like paid search. The second would be taking a fresh look at the corresponding keywords on which you’re bidding – remember, the performance of these campaigns weigh heavily on the strength of your 1:1:1 relevancy (keyword : ad copy : site content). Additionally, what patterns are you noticing in your search queries? As a variety of demographics start to consider higher education for reasons entirely new to the past hundred years, we’re seeing an array of new search queries that are expanding the education sales funnel as we know it. 

Until Next Time 

What we’re experiencing right now is unprecedented and challenging in ways we couldn’t have imagined. What’s ahead may be unknown, but we at ES are committed to providing our findings and analyses in this blog seriefor the Education community at large. Additionally, we’d like to thank all our clients and vendors for their collaboration and support – the EDU sector has united under a common goal and continues to support each other through adversity. We’re proud to call it our home turf.  

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