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The Glacier TeamAug 9, 2022 11:12:17 AM10 min read

A Breakdown of Ads That High School Students Actually Remember

Did you know that the average high school student is exposed to about 4,000 ads daily? As far-fetched as that number may seem, advertisers are trying to reach this age group through various channels. 

No wonder most students can't remember a single ad they saw yesterday, let alone last week or month. But what if there was a way to make your higher education ad stand out?

Read on for a breakdown of what types of ads high school students actually remember – and how you can use these insights to make your marketing more effective. Or listen to our Signals Podcast episode on this topic!

Table Of Content 

Social Media Platforms and Ads




Youtube and Programmatic Video Ads

Tips for Creating High-Converting Ads

Bottom Line


Social Media Platforms and Ads

Traditional advertising techniques are no longer as effective as they used to be, especially when advertising to Gen Z students. This generation is bombarded by ads in almost all aspects of their online media use and, thus, is generally wary when confronted with them. They can spot a commercial from a mile away and know when an ad is being inauthentic. That's why it is vital to create content that is relatable and authentic to your brand

Instead of relying on television or print ads, higher education marketers should dedicate their time to advertising on social media platforms like TikTok and Snapchat. These platforms are where students spend most of their time and remember the ads that may appear on their feeds. In addition, platforms like Instagram and Youtube are best used to support content from these channels and target parents or influencers.

Here's a detailed breakdown of different platforms and how they can be used to reach high school students.


tiktok phones




If you're targeting Gen Z students, there's no better platform than TikTok. This social media app is hugely popular among teens and young adults and offers various ways to reach your target audience. 60% of TikTok users are between the ages of 16 and 24, so it's the perfect place to advertise your high school or college program. Since most users watch videos on the app, you'll want to ensure your ad stands out.

The best strategy for a successful TikTok:

  • Hand the project off to current students and let them be content creators
    • This will make your ad more organic and relatable, and it will help you tap into what's trending with Gen Z
  • TikTok offers a lot of creative freedom regarding ads
    • You can use various filters, music, and effects to make your ad stand out
  • Content that does well on TikTok is usually entertaining, educational or inspirational
    • Try to create ads that meet these styles but do them in your own way that relates back to your institution
  • TikTok algorithm rewards engagement, so the more reactions your post gets (through liking, commenting, and sharing), the more likely it will get pushed to a broader audience
    • To get more engagement, make sure your content is genuine to your audience and authentic to your brand
  • Finally, don't be afraid to experiment with different types of content
    • You may be surprised at what resonates with your target audience. It's always the videos you least expect to go viral that end up getting the most views, so don't be afraid to get creative!
snapchat with logos




Regarding social media platforms, Snapchat is one of the most popular platforms among high school students. In fact, 86% of high school students use Snapchat, making it an excellent platform for higher education marketers to reach their target audience. However, only 9.5% of higher education marketers currently advertise on Snapchat, so there are a lot of opportunities for those willing to invest in this platform.

Snapchat is a very personable platform that allows users to share their lives with their friends in a very intimate way. This makes it the perfect channel for higher education marketers to tell the story of their school and what it has to offer potential students. One of the great things about Snapchat is that you can create animated ads, which are perfect for catching students' attention. These ads can be up to 10 seconds long and are a great way to tell a story or showcase your campus.

Additionally, Snapchat gives advertisers the ability to "geofence" their ads. This means they can target ads specifically to users within a specific geographic area. This is especially useful for targeting high school students around your campus. If they are already familiar with your school, they are more likely to click ads and attend events like campus tours and open houses. 

Finally, Snapchat ads tend to be more creative and fun than traditional ads. This is because they are designed to look and feel like the content high school students already share on the platform. This makes them more likely to grab attention and be remembered by potential students.


instagram 3D logo



Instagram is a visual platform that is hugely popular with Gen Z. According to eMarketer, 33.3 million Gen Zers use Instagram. This means that if you're targeting high school students, Instagram should be one of your go-to platforms.

There are several ways to best use it to reach your target audience:

1. Post Video and Stories Ad 

These tend to be more effective than traditional static ads, as they capture the viewer's attention and hold their attention for longer. In addition, the best CTRs come from video ads, so if you can create compelling video content, this is a great way to reach high school students on Instagram.

2. Create Ads That Tell a Story

 Higher education is all about stories – the stories of your campus, your student body, and your alumni. Tapping into this and creating ads that tell a story is a great way to connect with high school students on Instagram. 

For example, share videos like a "sneak peek at life on campus." This could include videos or photos of student housing, campus restaurants, or student amenities. By showing potential students what they could be a part of, you're more likely to pique their interest and encourage them to learn more about your school.

3. Use Current Students or Influencers to Share Content 

Content that is being posted by current students or influencers is naturally viewed as more authentic. Students like to be influenced by their peers and feel a better sense of connection when they are recommended something by their friends. Resharing and reposting content created by your students can make your social pages appear more genuine and help build trust with potential students.

4. Target Your Ads Appropriately 

Many social media platforms have the ability to geofence ads, and some even have the ability to narrow down the characteristics of your audience by age, gender, location and even interests. To have better engagement, click-through-rates (CTR) and to stay in the minds of your audience, you must be specific when targeting your audiences. Research the targeting ability on the platforms you want to advertise on and adjust to your audience accordingly!


youtube logo


Youtube and Programmatic Video Ads

As mentioned earlier, Snapchat and TikTok are great platforms for reaching high school and Gen Z students. However, you'll want to consider advertising on YouTube to reach an even larger audience.

YouTube is the second most popular website globally and has over 2.6 billion active users. This means that there's a good chance that your target students are using the platform. Statistics show that adding video content to your YouTube ads can increase your CTR by 0.2 to 0.4%. Additionally, full-screen video ads perform better than other types of ads by 2.8%. Since YouTube is a video-based platform, you'll want to ensure your ad stands out.

One great way to do this is by using programmatic video ads. Programmatic advertising allows you to target your ad to specific users based on their interests and demographics. This means you can narrowly target your audience, which is essential when trying to reach high school and college students. Additionally, programmatic ads are affordable and can target specific devices, including computers, phones, and tablets. This makes it easy to reach potential students no matter where they are or what device they're using.

When creating a YouTube ad, ensuring that the content is relevant to your target audience is essential. For example, suppose you're advertising an engineering program to high school students. In that case, you'll want to ensure that the ad is relevant to their interests. The same goes for college students. For example, suppose you're advertising a program during the admission season. In that case, you'll want to ensure that the ad is relevant to their needs.

Don't hesitate to use any current video content you may have to create YouTube ads. For example, Headspace, a popular meditation app, has posted some of its lessons as long-form YouTube ads. This type of ad adds value to the viewer because it provides content straight from the app. Even though these ads are likely skippable, viewers learn something from them, even if they only watch the first 15 seconds.




Tips for Creating High-Converting Ads

Now that you know what types of ads are most effective for reaching high school and college students, it's time to start creating your own. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

Take Advantage of Bite-Sized Content

Most people think that to be successful, they need to create long, detailed ads. However, this isn't always the case. In fact, shorter ads can often be more effective. This is especially true when targeting high school and college students.

Bite-sized content is easy to digest and doesn't require much time or effort on the viewer's part. This makes it an excellent choice for busy students constantly on the go. Gen Zs also tend to have shorter attention spans, so it is vital to grab their attention quickly within the first few seconds of an ad. Since most high school and college students are bombarded with advertisements every day, it's important to create ads that stand out, are concise, and are easy to remember.

Ditch the Logo (At Least at the Beginning of the Ad)

Imagine that you're scrolling through your TikTok feed and a logo pops up on the screen as you're about to watch a video. What are you more likely to do? If you're like most people, you'll probably skip the ad. This is because people don't want to watch ads; they want to watch videos. So, if your ad starts with a logo, there's a good chance that people will skip it.

Instead of starting your ad with a logo, try to hook the viewer in with something relevant and engaging. For example, add value to your ad by answering questions prospective students may have about your institution. This will make them more likely to watch the ad and remember your brand.

Don't Sleep on Retargeting Ads

Retargeting ads are a great way to reach high school and college students. This is because they allow you to target people who have already shown an interest in your brand or product.

Have you considered sending a thank you email to students who visit your campus or inquire about your programs? This is a great way to stay top of mind and remind students about your brand. You can also use retargeting ads to promote special events or new programs.

Your Current Students Are Your Best Advocates

Your current students are your best advocates. They know what your school is all about and they're more likely to recommend your school to their friends.

Encourage current students to share their experiences on social media. Share their content on your school's social channels to bolster and add value to the relationship between the school and its students. This will help you reach new students and promote your school. While you can always hire influencers to promote your school, there's nothing more powerful than a personal recommendation from a friend.

Test, Test, Test!

Testing is key when it comes to creating effective ads. You must experiment with different ad lengths, formats, and content to find what works best for your institution.

Start by testing a variety of video content. Some ideas include:

  • Program offers: student perks, teacher profiles, etc 
  • Campus tours: on-campus living, restaurants, etc
  • Student life: clubs, job fairs, etc 
  • Event recaps: sports games, keynote speakers, etc 

Once you've found a type of video that resonates with your target audience, test different ad lengths and formats. For example, try using a short intro before the video starts or a call to action at the end of the ad.

You also need to test different copies and messaging. Try other headlines and see which resonates with your audience. Don't be afraid to experiment with different styles, whether through comedy, education or even what's trending! Find out a trending song, video format or challenge and add your own twist to the trend that is still relatable and relevant to your school! 


Bottom Line

It's no secret that Generation Z is a different kind of consumer. They're the most diverse and digitally connected generation, making them more challenging to reach out to with traditional advertising methods. But as this article has shown, there are many ways to reach high school and college students with your message.


So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start advertising to Generation Z!

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