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As new technologies develop and AI becomes more reliable, it’s no surprise that higher education marketing and advertising strategies will be impacted. Google has introduced a new AI-powered campaign to give advertisers more access to better features. This campaign type is called Demand Generation. These Demand Generation campaigns can help schools level up their advertising results.

Google Ads can be a powerful way for schools to reach new audiences and reconnect with their prospects. Integrating Demand Generation campaigns, which replace Discovery campaigns, is essential to understand and prepare for. Here’s what your school needs to know!

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Introducing Google’s New Demand Generation Campaign to Schools

School marketers are often looking for ways to improve their advertising strategy. Google enables your team to amplify its creativity and drive results with Demand Generation campaigns. 

If you’re wondering what is a Demand Generation campaign, then it’s worth jumping into the basics. Demand generation content in a Google Demand Generation campaign includes visual creatives, like videos and images, which would then be used to create eye-catching and appealing ads. It’s a campaign type that replaces Discovery campaigns, using AI to help schools drive conversions and web visits, along with other key actions, through performing eye-catching and relevant visual creatives. These creatives make it easier for social media marketers to reach audiences on more visual and entertaining placements—such as YouTube, including YouTube Shorts, Discovery, and Gmail. They also significantly boost demand through the admissions funnel, from the mid-funnel to the enrollment stage.

Having only recently released, Demand Generation campaigns may be intimidating or mysterious for some. However, understanding its purpose and features can better prepare your team for the shift toward an AI-driven environment in Google Ads

Discovery Campaigns vs. Demand Generation Campaigns

Before starting the Demand Generation campaign planning process, it’s essential to understand how this new upgrade from Google differs from its predecessor. Discovery campaigns allow marketers to reach their ideal prospects at scale with a single campaign. They only need to input the key information – like creative headlines and copy, images, and logos – of their ad for their ads to be generated and shown to highly interested prospects depending on their set bid goal and budget.

Discovery campaigns are typically used if you want to drive conversions, reach new customers, or connect with your most valued prospects using your media assets at scale. You could boost conversions like newsletter signups and website visits and showcase your ads to potentially interested prospects or users who have previously engaged with your school. School marketers would use this type of campaign to convert larger audiences while relying on their existing social creative, serving their visuals across Google properties. 

Example: Below is a screenshot of the audience settings for a Discovery Ad, allowing school marketers to view different audience segments and types as well as key metrics like conversions and impressions:

discovery 2 - audience

These ads appear visually appealing on various placements but will continue to create a consistent school brand and user experience. The images below showcase two different placement examples, where the first image shows a Gmail ad and the second shows a YouTube one:

Trebas Institute Quebec Ad

Source: Trebas Institute Quebec

discovery 5 - youtube

Source: Trebas Institute Quebec

Google’s new Demand Generation ads work in much the same way, reaching audiences across the same platforms and serving the same type of visually eye-catching ads that resemble and function like typical social ad formats. However, Demand Generation ads offer better features that make it easier for social media marketers to boost their return on investment.

Here’s a handy table that shows the different features between both ad campaign types:

Source: Google Ads

It’s worth noting that Demand Generation campaigns make it possible for potential prospects to discover your school without needing to search for it. Because these ads are served on Google’s visual platforms – like on the YouTube feed, In-Stream, and Shorts – it becomes easier for your team of social media marketers to manage the campaign, work with visual assets, and navigate audience targeting settings.

Benefits and Features Your School Can Expect From Demand Generation Campaigns

Advertising on a platform with over three billion monthly users is no small matter for many schools, and it can be key in influencing prospects before they search for new education options. A Demand Generation campaign is a new Google AI-powered campaign that helps social marketers boost conversions and reach audiences on more visual and entertaining Google-owned placements. Research shows that these highly frequented Google-owned properties influenced 91% of consumers who have taken action after discovering a new brand on those properties. More specifically, the same research shows that 87% of customers attributed the ability to make faster purchase decisions to YouTube.

With these numbers working in your favour, it becomes more prudent to look into the benefits that Demand Generation campaigns can offer your school—interested in learning more about paid ad campaigns? Reach out to our team of education advertising experts to discover paid advertising opportunities for your school!

Better Performance and Storytelling Based on Your School’s Goals

Not only would Demand Generation campaigns allow you to integrate your best-performing video and image assets into prevalent platforms, but they would also allow you to better present your school brand where users are actively connecting and engaging with content. This gives you a unique opportunity to enhance your storytelling efforts through various

Demand Generation campaign ideas. You can experiment with short-form videos, carousels, portraits, and square images using only a single campaign.

Example: School marketers can choose from different types of ads to build their Demand Generation campaign. They’re able to easily opt for video ads, image ads, or carousel image ads:

Access your school’s Google Ads account can create a demand generation campaign. You’ll need to create visual content, a clear goal, and a budget to run your campaign.

Demand Gen storytelling

Source: Google Ads

The Demand Generation campaign is built to drive performance by catering to today’s social marketers. Google’s platforms and Ad campaigns have much to offer schools and can even help them meet their recruitment goals. Survey results show that one in three consumers have purchased something on Google feeds that they weren’t initially looking to buy. 86% of Gen Z users believe that YouTube helps them discover new products they would be interested in. The former research is valuable to schools considering reaching out to new audiences and potential prospects. The latter hints at the value of targeting a younger audience through a Demand Generation campaign on YouTube. 

School marketers can also align Demand Generation ads with their own goals. As with their predecessor, Discovery Ads, these new campaigns make it easy for school marketers to optimize for conversions. Those wanting to increase website traffic from high-value customers can optimize results with the Maximize Clicks bidding options.  Marketers can create relevant campaigns based on their goals through value-based bidding strategies.

Boost Your Success With New Ad Previews and Lookalike Segmenting

With Demand Generation ads, you can launch your campaign and preview your ad before it goes live. This can help you better envision how your ads appear across different devices and surfaces. A redesigned workflow of Google’s Demand Generation ads makes this possible, allowing you to optimize your placements so you can determine the best mix for your campaigns. To do this, you can rely on A/B testing.

Here’s how this workflow looks on the Google Ads platform:

Demand Gen ad preview

Source: Google Ads

Another valuable feature of this new campaign type is the ability to personalize results using new lookalike segments based on your school’s audience list. Here, you can use first-party data in campaigns to generate and expand lookalike audiences, discovering potential new customers. It works through Google’s audience intent and interest signals, which provide results based on inputs like website and app activity or YouTube engagement. 

Upgrade Updates and Timelines for School Marketers to Consider

The rollout of Google’s new Demand Generation campaigns will take place over months through set phases that are set to be completed by March 2024. This campaign type has been accessible to advertisers through a beta program and was only fully released in October. 

In November, existing Discovery campaigns will have automatically been upgraded. Between January and March, the final phase is when all remaining Discovery campaigns will be automatically upgraded to Demand Generation ones.

These new changes bring about a set of considerations for school marketers to remember. This includes changes in context and data that can occur when campaigns are migrated. For instance, Demand Generation campaigns will feature standard reporting on various campaign assets instead of placement-level reporting, making it essential for school marketers to keep track of changing metrics.

Metrics may be erratic initially, mainly since different Google inventory placements are meant for different engagement levels. Understanding which placement you’re using and how metrics react in each one is key to optimizing your performance and ensuring you don’t halt your progress due to any misconceptions.

Another vital consideration is anticipating how your team will harmonize its creative assets with this new campaign type. Here, ads are designed to be more visual, and refreshing your creative assets to match this key feature can help you create a more consistent user experience that enables you to generate better results.

In the age of AI-driven tools, being able to adapt and grow quickly is a testament to the strength of your school’s digital marketing and advertising strategy. As we move into the new year, take the time to review your budget and goals, as well as your visual content strategy, to prepare for a smooth migration process.

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