MediaRadar Blog

2023 MediaRadar Prediction: Layoffs and Career Changes Boost Education Ad Spend

As we approach the end of the year, we’re covering trends from key markets in 2022. We’ll recap the state of each industry over the past year, the ad strategies of its biggest players, and what we predict 2023 will hold.  

Between the Great Resignation and a never-ending stream of layoffs, millions of people are at a crossroads: 

  1. Find a new job in the same industry
  2. Go back to school, or take other steps, to change career paths 

The latter option is activating the ad strategies of many education and training advertisers. But the rising cost of tuition and declining enrollments are putting them at a crossroads of their own.  

What has this meant for their ad strategies in 2022, and how will they pan out in the new year? 

We looked at our data to find out. 

MediaRadar Insights on Education Advertising in 2022

Through October 2022, education and training advertisers invested nearly $1.6b on ads, representing a 15% YoY from 2021. 

Spending remained strong during most of the year, with the only YoY decreases coming in March, July, and October, by 3%, 2%, and 4%, respectively. That said, spending decreased again in October by 10% MoM. 

Overall, advertisers spent the most in Q2 ($556mm), increasing their budgets by 28% YoY from Q2 2021. 

Q1 and Q3 increased by 14% and 8% YoY, so the noticeable jump in Q2 could hint at some seasonality that aligns ad strategies with the school year and critical enrollment periods.

Further proof is that ad spending in November and December 2021 decreased MoM, indicating that advertisers reel in spending once classes are in session.

Social Media Ads Are the Backbone of Strategies

Thoughtful media mixes have become common as all advertisers invest in channels across the online ecosystem. Education and training advertisers do that but not to the extent you might think. 

Through October, these advertisers have spent $632mm on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. Top advertisers include Yanka Industries (Masterclass), Triumph Higher Education Group (Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts), and Domestika. 

Colleges and universities accounted for more than half of those social ad dollars. The rest came from online education advertisers (19%) and a mix of those in performing arts, primary and secondary education, and painting lessons.

The biggest social ad investment came in Q1 when advertisers spent $234mm. While Q2’s investment was down by 23% QoQ, these advertisers are again showing some seasonality in spending, which could carry into 2023.

Top Education & Training Advertising Categories

Through October, 85% ($1.35b) of the spending came from advertisers promoting colleges and universities, online education, and primary and secondary education.

If we expand to the top five categories—including performing arts education ($54mm) and athletics training & facilities ($24mm)—we’re looking at 89% of the total investment from education and training advertisers. 

Colleges & Universities

Advertisers for colleges and universities, who accounted for 62% of the category’s spending, increased their budgets by 31% YoY to $988mm; their average monthly investment was $98.8mm.

Top-spending categories 

  • Colleges and universities: $456mm in spend
  • Business schools: $72mm in spend
  • Online colleges: $58mm in spend

Through October, more than a third (37%) of those dollars went to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. 

For example, advertisers for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which invested in 672 properties in 2022, sent more than 50% of its dollars to Instagram. 

The University of Chicago and Triumph Higher Education Group also spent big on social media. 

Combined with MIT, these three advertisers accounted for 25% of social advertising in 2022. 

While these social-heavy strategies make sense given the social-obsessed generations they’re targeting, they could be leaving ROI on the table.

Social media is huge with younger generations, especially TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram, but it’s not the only ecosystem they frequent.

YouTube, for example, could be a goldmine, with 75% of Generation Z adults going on YouTube daily. Meanwhile, 87% of Millennials have a YouTube account.

OTT ads, including Netflix, should also be on the agenda, given its booming popularity with those between 18-34.   

Online Education 

Millions of people are considering a career change, but not if it requires them to show up to a lecture hall. 

Understandably, advertisers promoting online education have responded by spending more to get people through their proverbial doors.

Through October, online education advertisers increased their budgets by 137% YoY to $246mm, accounting for 15% of spending from education and training advertisers. 

Advertisers dished out most of these dollars in Q1 ($311mm) and Q2 ($343mm), which again speaks to the seasonality, as does the 29% QoQ decline in Q3. 

Harvard Business School Online invested heavily as part of a greater strategy to drive enrollment through its historically hard-to-get-into doors. The college dedicated much of its digital ad spend to pre-roll videos and YouTube’s gaming, music, and society & culture channels.

That said, it’s not just legacy institutions spending in droves.

MindValley, an innovative personal transformation learning platform, also ramped up its strategy. Unlike Harvard, however, MindValley sent nearly every penny (99%) to Instagram and Facebook.

For MindValley, Masterclass, and other outlets beyond the walls of traditional academia, spending should increase in 2023. 

Not only will the rising cost of higher education continue pushing people toward alternative routes, but currently employed people will look to these resources to level up their skills and hedge against looming layoffs in 2023.

Education and Training Advertisers Remain in Good Standing

Education and training advertisers rode the wave of layoffs and the Great Resignation in 2022. 

Although the state of 2023 is still up in the air, those forcing functions will continue to propel spending in the new year. Nearly half of U.S. workers plan to look for a new job in 2023. For those who don’t leave on their own accord, the next round of layoffs might get them. 

That said, historical strategies could change as education and training advertisers look to align their ad buys with the online behaviors of their target audience.

While social media will still dominate, other channels will assume more prominent roles—think Instagram and TikTok. At the same time, non-social ecosystems dominated by younger generations—think OTT—will also find themselves in the spotlight as advertisers look to capture the eyes and wallets of their target audience in different ways.   
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