Online co-op advertising… Gonzaga vs. Capella

Each year I keep a file for online advertising… screen shots of the initial ads, the landing pages, the online and email responses, and what happens when you leave the landing page for the regular website. Great presentation material.

Not long ago I was visiting a U.K. camera review site and couldn’t help but notice the right column display ad to “Find the Top Online Degrees” above a list that included certificate and associate’s degrees to doctoral opportunities. A quick click and I was off to explore the master’s category. The ad was offered by

11 Competing Schools

My first stop was on a page that included icons for the 11 “Top” competing schools:

  • Kaplan University
  • University of Phoenix
  • Gonzaga University
  • Westwood College Online
  • Saint Leo University
  • The Art Institute of Pittsburgh
  • American Intercontinental University
  • Villanova University
  • Everest University Online
  • Colorado Technical University Online

A lingering affinity for Jesuit schools made me click on the Gonazaga University icon and arrive at a nicely done landing page that highlighted the Gonzaga benefits and included an inquiry form.

A “Bonus” for Interest in Gonzaga… Capella University 

Completing the inquiry form brought an unexpected surprise. Up came a “Congratulations Rebecca” response page that was much more than that… a “Bonus!” invitation to also explore opportunities at Capella University since “Students who requested information from Gonzaga University also show a high interest in this school.” Must be true, or they couldn’t print it, right? You didn’t see much on this page other than Capella.

The effort to engage Rebecca with Capella didn’t stop there.

Email for Gonzaga Also Leads to Capella

Rebecca also received a regular email response from the hosts. Most of that email highlighted things about Gonzaga. Right at the end was a large Green “click here” box. Being an obedient person Rebecca indeed clicked… and found herself on the same “Congratulations Rebecca” page promoting a visit to Capella.

Does online co-op advertising like this work? I don’t know since I’ve never asked anyone who advertises. If the cost is right and the initial leads convert and enroll in sufficient numbers, then the answer is yes. And that answer may well differ from one school to another depending on results acheived. And results will vary with the quality of the follow-up, the cost, and other elements.

But this did represent a more intrusive effort to generate leads for more than the initial school of choice than I’ve seen over the last three years. Co-op advertising always drops the potential student into a group of competing schools on the initial landing page. What was new here was the aggressive effort to get people to continue to explore other schools.

With more time, it might be interesting to see if the unfolds a bit like those nesting Christmas boxes from Russia. If I’d asked for info on Capella, would offer me a third college or university? That’s an activity for a lazier day.

One lesson is clear: track leads by source and know how conversion rate and cost-per-conversion compares to other lead sources.  


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