Ad for OSU with smiling woman during move-in

Paid Digital Advertising for AU24

OMC’s Scarlet Studio partnered with Strategic Enrollment Management to encourage applications for the upcoming undergraduate class by increasing awareness and inspiring choice in key markets.

The Office of Strategic Enrollment Management partnered with Scarlet Studio in the Office of Marketing and Communications to engage in a paid digital media campaign to support AU24 undergraduate recruitment initiatives. For the last six years, the Office of Marketing and Communications has collaborated with Strategic Enrollment Management in their recruitment efforts of new first-year students. The AU24 campaign focused on priority markets across the United States and Ohio, where particular emphasis was placed on rural markets. 


Focus areas of the campaign

  • Highlight campus life, academic experience and affordability
  • Demonstrate to residents the opportunity to earn an Ohio State degree at any of the university’s campuses across the state
  • Encourage application by the higher-priority Nov. 1 early action deadline 
  • After. Nov. 1, encourage application by the Feb. 1 deadline
Group of three women hugging during graduation
Woman taking selfie with Brutus

Takeaways and recommendations from previous campaigns informed the development of a more optimized campaign at the outset.

At a high level, the AU24 campaign approach took the following into consideration:

1 Audience

Targeting students, parents/families and a larger retargeting pool from pixels​

2 Channel mix

Meta, Reddit and Google Ads to reach audiences

3 Creative

Campaign assets (copy, images, website) based on refreshed undergraduate recruitment campaign, which cascades from university brand expression platform

4 Length

Longer campaign cycle compared to AU23, without different phases​

5 Budget

Larger budget compared to AU23, to increase clicks for the longer timeframe

Campaign results

  • 253,447 clicks (up 200k from AU23)
  • 1.03% clickthrough rate (up 0.55% from AU23)
  • 16.6M impressions (up 5k from AU23)

Key highlights

  • Use of Google Display Ads and the addition of Google’s recently released AI-powered ad formats to expand AU24 ad placements throughout different Google touchpoints
  • TikTok ads had the highest clickthrough rate and lowest cost per click
  • The focused landing page helped optimize the web experience
  • Branded copy performed better than more general copy focused on the college experience 

The collaborative relationship between Strategic Enrollment Management and the university’s Office of Marketing and Communications has resulted in continuous refinement of strategies that enhance performance of digital paid media efforts for each recruitment cycle. Key insights that will inform the AU25 campaign include considering an extended lead-up to the application deadline, exploring additional channels and expanding our creative options.