Ad spending took a big jump between 2015 and 2016, according to EMG’s calculations — from $1.39 billion to $1.65 billion, an 18.5 percent increase.
Online advertising got the biggest share of higher ed’s ad dollars, with 44 percent. But TV advertising remained strong, with 34 percent of the share. Running a distant third was out-of-home advertising (billboards, etc.) with 10 percent.
EMG President Bob Brock attributes the growth in ad spending to many competitive factors, including:
- Demographics. The “flat and declining high school graduate populations in many regions of the country” is creating greater competition for a dwindling number of traditional prospective students.
- An improving economy that translates into better job prospects for some prospective students right out of high school.
- Concerns about affordability and the related perception that a college education may not be worth the cost anymore.
- Trust issues. Brock points to “signs that there has been an erosion of public confidence in the value of traditional college credentials,” a topic of recent discussion on this blog.
- Growth in online programs. “As online enrollments have continued to be the strongest growth area in higher education, an expanding number of public and private institutions have jumped headlong into the online marketplace to offset market weakness in traditional bricks-and-mortar audiences,” Brock writes.
“In upcoming blogs, we’ll delve in greater depth into the marketplace forces that are driving advertising and marketing growth and the startling dollars that some institutions are investing,” Brock writes, so stay tuned to EMG for more.