From custom campaign creation to full-funnel optimization

Digital Marketing for Columbia University’s Climate School

How a deep understanding of audience behaviors helped Columbia University’s Climate School exceed their enrollment goals.

Columbia University’s Master of Arts in Climate Society focuses on an interdisciplinary approach that trains its graduates to address and advance the impacts of climate change. And while climate change’s effect on the environment is very culturally relevant, the program needed to boost its visibility to meet its enrollment goals. Together, we set off to increase awareness of the degree and ensure the right students were finding and enrolling in the program.

earth institute columbia university logo
increase in enrollment –
Year 1

increase in enrollment –
Year 2
Reached program capacity

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digital demand generation

Through a strategic mix of digital advertising, we created Google Display custom intent audiences to target quality audiences as well as captured demand through a focus on high-intent keywords–mirroring the behaviors of our custom intent audiences. The results were more than a 40 percent increase in program enrollment.

But we didn’t stop there.

We found that there was a correlation between those who attended online information sessions and those who enrolled in the program. In key markets, we reinforced our brand awareness efforts with digital advertising that focused specifically on information session registration.

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After year two, information session attendance was up and Columbia University met their enrollment goals–complete with a student waitlist. With an increase in demand, Columbia University announced the formation of the Columbia Climate School, with the Master of Arts in Climate and Society as its first academic program.


Now in year three of our partnership, our efforts are to help build the Columbia Climate School brand. Our initial strategy focused on an optimized foundation built through Google Search and Display. We incorporated key learnings from the previous two campaigns and have refined our target audiences, which allows us to emphasize reach and frequency.

As the campaign progressed, we introduced new advertising channels in key markets to test messaging before expanding our reach. While still early in the campaign, we’re pleased that our efforts are already on the up and up.

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COCS display ads program collage mobile