Educational holiday gifts are a hot commodity this year. Books and media are one of the top gift categories that education marketers should be looking to capitalize on.

The National Retail Federation’s (NRF) Annual October Holiday Consumer Survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, covered the gifts consumers most want to receive this holiday season.

For brands with educational products to sell, you’re likely to be interested in a couple of these top categories:

  • 60% of respondents said that they want to receive gift cards and other certificates
  • 37% said that they want to receive books and other media.

If you’re going to reach the overlap of learners looking for classes, media and information, you’re going to need to do so online. Over half of respondents, 55%, plan to do their holiday shopping at least partially online—but it’s an extremely competitive game this time of year.

If your brand is going to stand out, you’re going to need data-driven insights when it comes to targeting and budgets. Most importantly, you’re going to need knockout creatives to entice consumers to click.

This holiday season, we’ve taken a deep dive into the planning and executing on digital marketing campaigns for the education industry.

The Ultimate Holiday Marketing Playbook (Broken Down by 11 Industries)

Building the best education ads is a matter of color and photography.

From video ads to sponsored content, we see colorful images and videos of people performing best no matter the category.

For video campaigns, focus on specific actions, whereas for sponsored content and social media ads, colors and the lack of photo props are what’s important for performance.

Video campaigns: keep your students moving.

Physical activity drives the best performance from video branding campaigns. For education marketers, keep your students moving in your holiday campaigns.

We analyzed the top 2,000 video campaigns on the open web based on two key metrics—viewability and completion rate. Below we mapped actions in three categories to see where the highest opportunity for marketers is this holiday season: physical activity, vocal activity, and general activity.

education holiday marketing (1)

Beyond the video production, here are some tips to help your video be successful:

  • Keep your videos between 15 seconds and 1 minute long
  • Include your logo on-screen for better brand recall
  • Include subtitles if needed to optimize for sound-off
  • Include and overlay for better click-through-rate (CTR)
  • …Or an end card to drive traffic from people who have finished your video
  • Finally, Test three video creatives for the best optimization

Sponsored content: don’t include props in your photos.

The images that drive the highest demand from consumers for education brands this holiday seasons are the ones without the extras—excluding things like animals, text, and food in your creatives helps campaigns perform.

education holiday marketing (2)

education holiday marketing (3)

education holiday marketing (4)

We also analyzed the top keywords to use in your sponsored content headlines and creatives. The keywords like “world,” “year,” and “universities” can increase your CTRs by up to 171%.

Download the Ultimate Holiday Marketing Playbook

Targeting: consumers want education products on Sundays, and other trends.

After you’ve built the most enticing creative possible, you’ll need to focus on meeting education consumers at the best time while they’re shopping online.

We took a look at several targeting parameters to pinpoint exactly where education marketers have the highest opportunity for success.

Opportunity is defined at the intersection of supply and demand. We define supply as the amount marketers are spending to promote content and products, and demand as the CTR on that content.

Here’s what we found:

You’re most likely to reach education consumers on Sundays.

education holiday marketing 5

August, the beginning of December, and January are the times of year when education marketers have the highest opportunity to reach consumers.

education holiday marketing 6

Some final tips—try testing campaigns specifically for tablet devices, as well as promoting articles. We see high opportunity for these device and landing page types.

Finally, we’ll leave you with a little inspiration.

These brands have found success with their creative advertising campaigns on the open web—check out how Blinkist, Georgetown University and Babbel tackled their recent marketing campaigns.


This nonfiction learning app saw 60,000+ downloads in just a month when they chose to reach consumers with editorial content.

education holiday marketing (7)

Georgetown University

We increased conversion rate for this universities marketing efforts regarding applications and attendance by 740%.

education holiday marketing (8)1


This language learning app saw about 100K new leads a month with their sponsored content campaign.

education holiday marketing (9)

As your campaigns run this holiday season, you’ll need to keep testing, reiterating, and trying new things. Keep creatives fresh and try new tactics if you start to see fatigue in your online audience.

The holiday season is a time for sharing, giving, and fun, which is exactly what you should be aiming for with your holiday campaigns—give customers and fans the chance to be a part of the action.

Download the Ultimate Holiday Marketing Playbook

Originally Published:

Create Your Content Campaign Today!