Paid Social Campaigns #3

Using Lookalike Audience Segments for Targeted Campaigns

About the Partner

This private not-for-profit university offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs across many in-demand program fields. With multiple ground campuses as well as an online division, this university offers flexible scheduling and personalized attention. A warm, friendly community and supportive faculty and staff are indicative this university’s commitment to the success of their students.

The Story

With consistently high investment in paid search for ground campus locations, opportunities for year-over-year volume inquiries were limited. Thruline identified paid social as a growth area this university had not yet taken advantage of.

The Strategy and Execution

Through a combination of proprietary internal data and client application rate data, Thruline determined which programs would be most effective to prove the value of paid social within our partner’s digital mix. A large pool of first party search data allowed Thruline to create high-quality lookalike audience segments to target program-specific Facebook and Instagram campaigns.

With a wealth of program offerings in Health Care, Business, Criminal Justice and Technology, the carousel ad format was an effective way to represent the many program offerings at this university, providing the potential student with the opportunity to find the right option for their education.

As the campaigns matured, frequent testing of ad messaging, targeting tactics, and program mix led to consistent quarter-over-quarter improvement through the first year of paid social campaigns.


  • Campaign optimization and improvement is marked by inquiry and application growth with paid social CPI -17% lower than paid search in this time range.
  • As expected, CPA is higher than paid search overall but decreased -27% from Q3 to Q4 and -60% from Q4 to Q1.



No matter how small or large, paid social has a role to play for any advertisers with adequate budget levels, especially those maximizing search opportunity.

The appropriate mix of paid search and paid social is dependent on each institution’s budget levels, program offerings, and target audience. Testing and media mix optimization are key to efficient allocation of media spend.


Sarah Russell, Director Digital Media