Scaling Campaign Results by Diversifying Ad Platforms


Uncommon Schools operates urban public charter schools that close the achievement gap and prepare students from low-income communities to graduate from college. They operate 53 schools, serving 20,000 students across Boston, Camden, New York City, Newark, and Rochester.

Uncommon has multiple campaign objectives, from top of funnel awareness to downstream efforts such as driving leads and applications. By diversifying the ad platform mix, Media Cause was able to drive significant impressions and enrollments even with the challenges of increased market saturation and the need to maintain a low cost per click and cost per application.


The Outcome

The ‘21-22 recruitment campaign served over 200MM impressions and helped nearly 6,000 low-income families in Uncommon’s regions take the first step to enroll their child in an outstanding, free, public charter school in their neighborhood.




Increase in application volume compared to last campaign (1,625 applications compared to last year’s 1,044)

Increase in media spend

of total applications came from media partners beyond search and social

The Challenge

With only a few weeks until the new school year was to begin, Uncommon came to us with additional media budget to drive a final push in applications.  While typically an increased budget is good news, we faced a couple of challenges:  

  • Increased market saturation and competition on existing platforms due to targeting a specific audience in small geographical areas for a year-round recruitment campaign.
  • Accommodating incremental budget effectively in order to reach a new target audience while maintaining a low cost per lead and cost per application.

The Strategy

When planning any Uncommon campaign, regardless of the KPI, we seek to be as targeted as possible, knowing we have a very niche audience (lower-income parents of school-age children) in a small geographical area of certain neighborhoods or zip codes.  

With this incremental budget, we knew we were close to maxing out budgets on our most efficient, lower-funnel placements so we decided to approach this as a full-funnel campaign.  We used a portion of the budget to help drive awareness of Uncommon Schools as the new school year approached.  

By adding awareness driving media to the mix – strategically allocating incremental budget across objectives – we expected to see not only increased reach, but improved lead quality while also efficiently scaling application volume.

The Implementation

We tested new platforms and targeting tactics in order to reach new people with upper-funnel awareness messaging.  In addition to running on our standard social channels, Facebook and Instagram, we added a second programmatic partner to the mix, where we focused on lookalike and behavioral targeting.  We also included two endemic publications into the plan, and, which allowed us to reach parents in a contextually relevant environment.  Finally, we partnered with eTarget Media to deploy dedicated emails to a unique audience list. 

We ran full-screen, mobile rich media ad units.  We also ran social display ads, which brought the look and feel of social ads along with the engagement capabilities, to websites outside of social channels.  Custom emails were also added to the mix, which offered a large canvas for storytelling, images, and multiple calls-to-action. 

Finally, we sought to refresh creative on existing platforms in order to avoid creative fatigue among our audience.  We refreshed social ads across all markets and then we leaned on our media vendors to update the display ads they were running as well.  This creative refresh also enabled Uncommon Schools to remain timely with the images used, as kids were returning to in-person learning (vs. previous ads that had showcased remote learning).