Clearing 2018: What we’ve seen so far this morning

Clearing 2018: What we’ve seen so far this morning


Clearing is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, event in higher education. Crunch Simply Digital have given their expert first-impressions synopsis exclusively to Ri5:

Here at Crunch we’ve been working with our university clients for weeks preparing them for this hectic and rewarding day. But what are we seeing already?

Clearing hasn’t even been going for 24-hours yet and we’re already seeing more competition than ever with CPC's rising by at least 20%. Peaks have shown searches at 8am, with evidence that some universities spending a good chunk of their Clearing budget by 7:30am.

Just under 67,000 students found a university place through Clearing in 2017, according to UCAS. That’s a whopping (approximately) 10% of all university acceptances. Clearing is an extremely competitive market and it’s vital that universities running digital advertising campaigns stand out. Rather than hastily accepting offers, students are taking time to research, review and consider applications. We’re on hand to raise the universities’ profiles and to drive applications.

With online users constantly on a plethora of devices, it’s important to understand how behaviours differ between different device users. It’s key to understand the benefit of separating campaigns out into device specific sub-campaigns. It enables digital campaigns to have the ability to optimise and tailor campaigns to work particularly well with each device.

Our experience finds that the average university missed out on over 50% of opportunities. This indicates it is vital that universities are engaging with audiences throughout A-level results day and provide clear, informative content on landing pages. Our research also showed that with a prospensity to target desktops, it’s no surprise that this is where the majority of clicks were generated, however users were most likely to click through on a mobile device and this will be further exaggerated in 2018.

A carefully planned digital strategy is key to clearing success. It starts with building awareness before Results Day itself – ensuring potential applicants already have you in mind when selecting a university. Social advertising, across platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat play an important role in this phase. We’ve been connecting with students before they are actively searching for a clearing place. Programmatic is also another key tool, with messaging appearing to students no matter where on the web they are.

We’ve been running our clearing campaigns since July (when Clearing officially opens), but it really gets going today, A level results day. Anxious students who have not met their offers begin searching for courses that still have places. This is where we introduced Search Advertising as we can connect with students while they are actively searching for universities to apply to. Both generic and course specific adverts may run, with course adverts being switched off once they reach capacity. This enables universities to focus on recruiting in priority areas.

The flipside of Clearing is incorporating Adjustment into the A-level Results Day strategy. Last year Crunch saw an increased strategic approach amongst universities to the Adjustment process. A growing number of students are gaining better than expected results; therefore, qualifying for Adjustment. Universities should increase their focus on attracting students who are going through the clearing process, but not forget about those applying via Adjustment.

#Clearing2018: What we’ve seen so far this morning

Clearing started at 8am this morning, so we’ve had a couple of hours to generate some insights: -

Here’s a shot of the live feed from Google showing use of “Clearing” from 05:46 onwards this morning:

  • It took just 4 seconds from the ads going to live to one of our clients receiving their first tracked phone call response.  Our insights also show Leeds Beckett University, Salford and Bristol gathered interest momentum early this morning.
  • Traffic peaked from 9am-10am with 30+ universities changing to Max clicks with accelerated delivery during this time.
  • Mobile traffic is peaking with a 76% of users on mobile.
  • Gmail campaigns are showing a massive increase in traffic since 08.10am.
  • 'Aerospace' and 'sports science' have been the most searched for courses, with the University of South Wales and University of York the most searched institutions.
  • Interestingly, we can see students are starting to look and consider league tables and search for courses rather than institutions directly.

Clearing doesn’t end on results day

Clearing doesn’t end on results day, with students able to apply up until September. This is where retargeting, whether through programmatic or social platforms, will play its strongest part. Retargeting will encourage students who have already viewed a universities website to go back and have another look.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

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