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Baruch College is one of 10 senior colleges of the City University of New York (CUNY), the largest urban public university in the United States. Located in mid-town Manhattan, the 160-year-old Baruch was ranked third by U.S. News and World Report on its list of Top 10 Public Colleges in the Region.

Situation

For the 2011 summer session, Baruch wanted to reach students enrolled in four-year institutions who would be returning home for the summer break. Often, students attend nearby schools to accelerate their coursework, to retake classes they didn’t pass or simply for personal enrichment.

New York City is a very competitive market when it comes to higher educational advertising. Baruch College is not only competing for students’ attention against other CUNY schools in Manhattan and the outer boroughs, but against a formidable array of excellent private institutions that include multiple divisions of NYU, Columbia, Pace and many others. Competition is so fierce, in fact, that competitive institutions have been known to sit on critical search engine keywords for Baruch, even bidding for the Baruch name. Baruch really needed to rise above the competition and stand out in the crowd.

Long-term, Baruch’s marketing director, Jeff Danowitz, also felt that print advertising, which was traditionally used by the higher education community for marketing outreach, was becoming less and less effective as the “digital native” generation came of college age. This resulted in declining newspaper readership among consumers 18-21 and created a general concern among the Baruch marketing team that newspaper ads were not reaching students at the feeder colleges – the audience Baruch was targeting for its summer programs.

Solution

Baruch wanted a medium that could target not only based on demographics, but also directly at students attending specific feeder colleges. Direct mail was considered too expensive due to postage and a genuine concern about the quality of lists; and, historically, e-mail open rates and conversions among unqualified prospects were underwhelming. A Google AdWords campaign was a critical part of the acquisition program, but Baruch wanted a more proactive vehicle rather than rely entirely on search engine marketing.

“We really needed to rise above the clutter,” says Danowitz, “and reach our target audience in a way that would be both efficient and extremely relevant to them.”

Working with Creative Partners, the college chose Pandora Radio to achieve this goal. Pandora is a leading Internet radio service with 51.9 million active listeners who logged 1.06 billion listening hours in the month of April alone.

Through Pandora, not only could Baruch target listeners by age, sex and music format, the school’s online advertising could target the .edu address or IP address of students attending each of the 53 feeder institutions. The campaign, which ran during the spring of both 2011 and 2012, delivered 50% of the ads via computer and the other 50% via a mobile device.

Thanks to the Creative Partners’ Pandora campaign, Baruch reached its intended target audience with pinpoint precision. Pandora generated more than half of all hits to the summer course landing pages – a total of more than 27,000 over a one-month period and 99% of all hits to Pandora came through mobile devices!

“The results from the Pandora campaign clearly showed us how to effectively reach our student target,” says Danowitz. “And it showed us the critical importance of going beyond search and being proactive. This is a lesson we will certainly take with us as we move forward.”

Baruch followed up this campaign with one for an MBA open house, using the same Pandora targeting and A/B split models. The results were equally successful, with 19,000 hits from mobile Pandora, resulting in a 60% increase in attendees over the previous year.

For more information contact Josh Moritz at 203.705.9209 or jmoritz@creativepartners.com.

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Metropolitan College of New York celebrated the opening on it’s Bronx Extension Center on March, 13, 2012. The opening gained television news coverage on News12.

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