Enhanced Advertising Efforts Drive Journalism School’s Recruiting Efficiencies


Expanding to year-round advertising, advanced keyword strategies and AI implementation lowers CPA 30-45%.

An established journalism school with strong brand, reputation, and successful and prominent alumni sought to increase enrollment in their traditional MSJ and their Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) programs.

Expanding online advertising from seasonal to year-round, Arcalea implemented ad platform fundamentals, adjusted tactics, and revised strategies across platforms, outperforming benchmarks by 30-40% and reducing Cost Per Lead (CPL) consistently.

The Challenge

The brand needed to reverse recent declines and expand enrollment in the Master of Journalism (MSJ) program, and increase the quality and number of leads for the MSJ and the unique Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) program, all while increasing the yield from admission to enrollment. Traditionally, the brand advertised seasonally and closed enrollment gaps using school events and job fairs, a costly and unpredictable approach. The brand needed a comprehensive plan leveraging brand differentiation through expanded advertising windows and more effective strategies and tactics.


Arcalea analyzed performance of the current platforms (LinkedIn, Google, and Programmatic), identifying each implementation, configuration, and associated performance. The resulting data was interpreted to develop year-round recommendations and platform-specific fundamentals that efficiently drive quality leads.

Arcalea created full year online advertising, establishing benchmarks for those months where it didn’t exist. The resulting expansion to year-round cadence allowed the brand to increase spends during months with the best Cost Per Acquisition (CPA), maximizing yield in months with greatest interest.

Likewise, LinkedIn strategy was expanded throughout the year, even as platform volume decreased post-2020 after the initial platform surge of professionals during the early part of the pandemic. Consequently, LinkedIn was monitored closely to learn which activity types could be expected in future months, and to tune configurations and scale spends to available targets.

For Google Search, legacy keyword strategies created keywords spanning large campaigns, limiting focus and targeting power and ultimate impact. Using tighter, smaller campaigns with disparate keywords, Arcalea was able to measure matching and power of discrete keywords.

Bid strategies were changed to leverage native AI. Prior Display targeting used brand estimates of user characteristics most likely aligned with MSJ enrollment. Switching to Smart Display allowed AI to analyze both page content and incoming user signals to more accurately target high-intent candidates. Harnessing the power of AI across platform configurations expanded reach into new targets for programs.

Historically, the brand focused on LinkedIn and Google, but with advertising window expansion, allocations were recently increased for Programmatic. Moreover, new AI-enabled contextual analysis of target placements and incoming signals are helping drive Programmatic advertising. With MSJ experiencing decreased leads across channels, AI implementation was critical in pulling new leads from existing sources.


As a result of newly optimized year-round advertising, enhanced keyword strategies, and AI implementation across platforms, efficiencies were gained in both target programs. Cost Per Lead (CPL) went down from prior months, consistently below target costs. While Target CPA was $183, a recent cost was lowered to $87. Against the annual benchmarks, IMC was 30% lower and MSJ 45%.

Moving Forward

As efforts across platforms continue to drive actionable data, and Arcalea continues to tune configurations, each implementation becomes more efficient and effective. As more recent AI technology continues to impact matches and leads, the resulting data leads optimization efforts for continued growth.




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