Research Outline

University Marketing


To gain insights into the amount spent on marketing and software for marketing by universities.

Early Findings

In the broadest sense, marketing spend is historically difficult to assess within the public domain. However, several insights have been discovered.


According to a May 2020 report from Brookings (using the most recent 2017 data), "degree-granting U.S. post secondary institutions spent roughly $730 million on advertising—including TV, cable, outdoor, and online ads." Other highlights from the report include:
  • Marketing spend at universities has been on the decline. It "grew throughout the early 2000s, reached a peak of $1.2 billion in 2013, and has since declined."
  • "For-profit institutions account for the largest share of ad spending, but the smallest share of students. Degree-granting for-profit institutions account for about 40% of all higher education advertising spending, while serving just 6% of students.
  • "Among the institutions that advertise, for-profit institutions spend almost $400 on advertising per student, compared to just $48 per student among nonprofits and $14 per student among public institutions."


Using data collated from a (paywalled) report titled, 'Higher Education Digital Advertising Trends In The Age Of COVID-19' from Kivvit, University Business provide the following insights on higher education marketing amidst the current pandemic.
  • "Facebook advertising increased 7% during the pandemic compared to the same 10-week period one year ago."
  • "The average Facebook ads spend was $131,402 per institution, or about $54,000 per month."
  • "Public institutions—while representing just 25% of the top 100 institution advertisers and comprising just 17% of ad spending among that group—weren’t the biggest spenders. But they did still increase ad spending at the same rate (about 21%) as private institutions."
  • "More than 6 in 10 ads studied promoted online degree programs."
  • "Campus environments were featured in just 9% of ad creative, but over half of the ads showed people, and most of those included an element of social distancing. Still, 45% of the ads showing people featured groups of people in close proximity."



Based on the early findings, it is highly unlikely that more granular details surrounding marketing spend or the enrollment management software market are going to be found outside of paid market research reports. It is suggested that further research pivot in focus to evaluate trends and growth drivers in these markets.