Prospective students are turning to digital courses and online universities to further their education. Podcasts and AM/FM radio are effective media platforms for online universities and educational institutions to reach students who are interested in pursuing an online education.
The Cumulus Media | Westwood One Audio Active Group® fielded a national study with MARU/Matchbox to examine the size of prospective student segments and their media habits. The latest August 2022 study included 1,003 participants and was conducted as a second wave to a 2018 study that explored media habits among prospective students.
Here are the key findings:
45% of adults are considering, willing, or planning to pursue an education online
Prospective students are made up of two groups. “Online education maybes” represent the 22% of adults who might consider online education. “Online education intenders” are the 23% of adults who are definitely willing to consider online education or are planning to begin online education within the next year.
Those who intend to continue education online skew young: 74% of online education intenders are between the ages 18-49
Among those who are definitely willing to consider or planning to begin online education within the next year, 74% are between the ages 18-49. Advertisers should focus on reaching this age group as they are more likely to enroll in online classes or universities. Among the adults who intend to continue education either in person or online, 80% are between the ages 18-49.
Prospective students listen to a variety of AM/FM radio programming formats and podcast genres
Online universities can grow reach of prospective students with increased use of podcasts and AM/FM radio and reduced spending on TV: Each week, AM/FM radio reaches 84% of adults 18-49, while TV reaches only 61%
According to the Q2 2022 Nielsen Total Audience Report, AM/FM radio has the highest weekly reach among adults 18-49 as compared to other media types. AM/FM radio reaches 84% of adults 18-49 each week, while TV only reaches 61%.
TV campaigns of online universities generate very low reach among adults 18-49
Some online universities devote a large proportion of their media plans to TV. Despite this, Nielsen Media Impact, the media optimization platform, reveals TV campaigns from major online universities generate weak levels of 18-49 monthly reach.
|Nielsen: Monthly 18-49 TV campaign reach (May 2022)|
|Southern New Hampshire University: 27%|
|Capella University: 21%|
|University of Phoenix: 19%|
|Western Governors University: 13%|
|Grand Canyon University: 4%|
Reallocating 20% of a TV buy to AM/FM radio causes significant growth in campaign reach
With a +38% greater weekly audience than TV, AM/FM radio is a powerful way to reach adults 18-49. According to Nielsen Media Impact, adding AM/FM radio to the plan causes a massive increase in reach.
Reallocating just 20% of Southern New Hampshire University’s existing TV budget to AM/FM radio causes monthly reach to surge from 27% to 56%, a +107% increase.
Reallocating 20% of the University of Phoenix existing TV budget to AM/FM radio causes the monthly reach to grow to from 19% to 47%, a +147% increase.
While existing media plans primarily consist of TV and digital, audio should play a much bigger role: The optimal media plan targeting prospective online students allocates 45% to audio
According to Kantar, the University of Phoenix and Southern New Hampshire University plans heavily utilize TV and digital platforms to reach prospective students. These budgets massively under-utilize audio platforms, which make up less than 1% of the media plans for both University of Phoenix and Southern New Hampshire University.
Considering the share of heavy media usage among prospective online students, the MARU/Matchbox study reveals the ideal media plan should be allocated in the following proportions:
- 35% social media
- 33% AM/FM radio
- 20% TV
- 12% podcasts
- 45% of adults are considering, willing, or planning to pursue an education online
- 74% of online education intenders are between the ages 18-49
- Prospective students listen to a variety of AM/FM radio programming formats and podcast genres
- TV campaigns of online universities generate very low reach among adults 18-49
- Among 18-49s, AM/FM radio dramatically outreaches TV in weekly reach (84% to 61%)
- Reallocating 20% of a TV buy to AM/FM radio causes significant growth in campaign reach; TV buys for Southern New Hampshire University and University of Phoenix would see reach double with the addition of AM/FM radio
- While existing media plans primarily consist of TV and digital buys, audio should play a much bigger role: The optimal media plan targeting prospective online students allocates 45% to audio (12% podcasts and 33% AM/FM radio), 35% to social media, and 20% to TV
Ariella Leiter is a Research Analyst at Westwood One.
Contact the Insights team at CorpMarketing@westwoodone.com.