Understanding Media Consumption – The role and impact of Education media (2/3)


Ed Layt, Head of Consultancy, SMRS


In my last blog, I introduced our media consumption research with prospective undergraduates aged 16-21 in the UK. If you want a detailed look at some of our findings, please register to download the white paper here. Or read on for more insights…


Education media is a cornerstone in decision-making.

The online prospectus, social media and education media were all ranked similarly as preferred channels for researching HE providers, with around a third of our respondents selecting each of these options. Although these channels were equally preferred, when asked how important they are to decision-making, education media stood out. 62% said it was important, a full 10pp ahead of social media. So which education media channels are preferred?

If we park UCAS to one side for a moment (as almost all UK undergraduate applicants will use the channel for application), The Student Room was the most preferred channel with a huge 62% stating they preferred to use it for research. This was followed by Unifrog (35%), Complete University Guide (25%) and The Guardian (23%).

Education media channels also came out as the second most likely media to see university advertising (after social media). The top three channels where university advertising was seen were UCAS (75%), TSR (40%), Unifrog (28%). Which mirrors the preference for channels.

However, there are some surprising differences further down the table. Sites like the Complete University Guide and THE World Rankings ranked well for preference, but poorly for advertising exposure – whereas sites like The Guardian University Guide, WhatUni? And The Times Good University Guide performed much better for university ad recall vs preference for the channel itself.


What does this tell us?

The picture isn’t as clear cut as you might expect – preference and usage doesn’t automatically correlate to advertising recall. As I touched on in my last blog, perhaps this is an indicator of the level of university advertising on these sites, or perhaps it’s the site’s ability to deliver advertising messages that are noticeable. Either way, when planning a campaign channel mix this information is invaluable, particularly if awareness, consideration and recall are core objectives.

There is one other core question that naturally follows from these findings – if someone remembers the advert they were served, how did it make them feel and what did it ultimately lead them to do?

I’ll be taking a look at that in the next blog – out next week.

Ed Layt, Head of Consultancy, SMRS