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Imperial College London

President’s PhD Scholarships

Imperial College London (ICL) is one of the world’s leading universities, with 20,000 students and 8,000 staff working to solve some of the biggest challenges in science, medicine, engineering and business. To advertise ‘The President’s PhD Scholarships Scheme’, they got in touch with us to tap in to our skills, experience and knowledge in the sector.

What was the challenge?

The President’s PhD Scholarships Scheme has been running for a number of years and offers an excellent opportunity for up to 50 outstanding students across a range of research areas to receive full tuition fees and a generous stipend for a PhD place at Imperial College. ICL required our help in devising a campaign that would engage with the best possible potential PhD students for 2021/2022 by promoting awareness of the scheme widely and targeting all high‐calibre candidates, including those from less wealthy backgrounds for whom the financial support would be of particular benefit. Copy and assets were to be created by Imperial’s in‐house Design and Editorial team.

What was our solution?

In previous years, the Scholarships Scheme had been promoted through static ads on specific websites and in print. Keen to maximise our budget, this year we dropped print and turned to programmatic to enable a truly effective and wide‐reaching campaign. Targeting potential UK‐based applicants contextually, we used premium data segments supplied by Bluekai, Nielsen and Exelate to reach people interested in undertaking a PhD and graduates, including those with a master’s degree, who engaged with editorial content related to education, college and universities. Native ads are proven to increase application intent and engagement, leading to higher levels of awareness when compared to regular display ads. We used both to increase awareness and promote the Scheme, ensuring a broad reach into a passive audience not previously aware of the Imperial College Scholarships. Using third party data segments meant this audience was the most relevant to our campaign.

What were the results?

Optimisations were made in real‐time against industry benchmarks for click‐through‐rate (CTR) throughout the campaign, which achieved over three million impressions generating 5,824 clicks and a CTR of 0.169% – well above the UK display advertising CTR benchmark of 0.05%.

The high volume of clicks resulted in a low cost‐per‐click (CPC) of just £1.80.

Key campaign stats were:

Budget: £10,500

Duration: Two months

Clicks: 5,284  

CTR: 0.169%  

CPC: £1.80  

Audience prospecting (using third party segments)

Clicks: 1,994  

CTR: 0.153%  

CPC: £2.80  

Contextual prospecting (including native)

Clicks: 3,290  

CTR: 0.181%  

CPC: £1.48