Part 1: Effectiveness of Outdoor Advertising for Colleges and Universities

The new semester may have just started, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be looking to fill next semester’s empty seats. Now is the perfect time to start advertising! This is Part 1 of a 2 part series on the effectiveness of Outdoor Advertising for Colleges and Universities. This week, we’ll share industry insights on how billboards increase student enrollment, promote graduates, increase community awareness, and more!


Universities and colleges face a number of unique challenges when it comes to attracting new students to their programs. According to research from the National Student Clearinghouse, enrollment in US colleges and universities has declined over the past several years. And this trend is expected to continue over the next several years.

With fewer potential students to target – not to mention decreasing funding to put towards institutional advancement – it’s crucial that you stand out to prospective students, community members, and donors.


Effectiveness of Outdoor Advertising for Colleges and Universities

Outdoor advertising is the perfect opportunity to drive awareness for your programs. Why?

Effectiveness of Outdoor Advertising for Colleges and Universities

•  Billboards can’t be ignored: Unlike many other forms of advertising, billboards can’t be turned off, thrown away, fast forwarded through or deleted. Brochures and bulk mailings are tossed without a second glance. Radio and television commercials are avoided. Emails sit unread for weeks before they’re eventually deleted. Not so with billboards!

•  Billboards target people when they’re out and about: Would it surprise you to know that Americans spend most of their waking hours out of their homes? 70% to be exact, according to the OAAA!  And we’re on the road more too! According to the Arbitron National In-Car Study, we average 210 miles every week. What better way to capture future students’ and potential donors’ attention than with a big and bold billboard?

•  Billboards Simply Work for Colleges & Universities: Colleges and universities of all different sizes experience significant gains in enrollment and community awareness after implementing outdoor advertising campaigns. 

•  Case Studies: Increased Enrollment

•  City College of San Francisco: 34% increase in enrollment in just 2 months, resulting in $4.6 million in tuition to the college.

•  Central Michigan University: 27% growth in freshmen class.

•  Coastline Community College: 19% increase in enrollment over 3 years.


•  Case Studies Build Awareness & Strengthen Brand

•  Oral Roberts University: 162 social media posts from prospective & current ORU students, resulting in over 647 likes, 35 comments & 500 shares.

•  University of Colorado-Denver: 10.5 million print and online media impressions in 8 weeks.

•  University of Arizona: Extensive media coverage highlighting UA’s accomplishments.


Are you excited about the possibilities that billboard advertising can bring to your school? Then make sure you check out the next post in our series. Next time, we’ll share tips on planning an effective outdoor campaign! 


Interested in knowing why OOH works? Check out Why Are Billboards Effective? 3 Psychological Reasons

Ready to start designing your campaign 5 Design Tips for a Billboard that Gets Results


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