King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) wanted to promote all 13 of their academic programmes, especially at PhD level, with the overall objective of building their brand internationally, whilst generating high-quality applications and enrolments.

KAUST had an ambitious goal to attract international students to their institution, from a wide range of countries, across four continents.

After a competitive tender process, Net Natives were appointed as the strategic marketing partner to KAUST, in part due to our extensive experience running similar campaigns in their priority international markets, and our use of insights, research and expertise to inform the strategy and tactics of the campaign.


Using insights to shape a global strategy 

Taking into account the number of markets KAUST wanted to enter, Net Natives recommended grouping individual countries into regions that shared common online behaviours and motivations and targeting these regions with a multi-channel digital advertising campaign - with a view to establishing benchmarks and using the data to inform their strategic market selection

Having conducted an analysis of each country, combined with Net Natives’ experience and expertise, we understood the existing level of brand awareness KAUST had in each priority market. This informed a media plan that had very specific tactics for each region, with personalised messaging on country-specific platforms. The Net Natives’ Creative team used this research and insight to develop imagery and messaging that would resonate best - and this was continuously optimised based on performance throughout the campaign in order to maximise ROI.

Programmatic display adverts increased brand awareness at scale and cost-effectively across the key markets and allowed the team to slot the KAUST brand according to the lifestyle of relevant audiences. KAUST appeared across high-quality global publishers such as The Guardian, Tech Radar, Yahoo, Spotify and eBay.

Advertising on social platforms such as Facebook and Vkontakte, our Paid Media experts set about driving traffic, enquiries and ultimately applications. And using Paid Search, we set about driving applications during intent driven moments, across Google and Yandex.

And the results?

Overall the campaign generated extremely positive results. Facebook and Google generated high-quality leads at an overall CPL and CPC that was much lower than the sector benchmark and far exceeded the expectations of KAUST. The programmatic campaign exceeded our KPIs on viewability.

Sign up to our newsletter

Click here

Sign up to receive Education Futurology and to be the first to hear about events, webinars and special offers from Net Natives.

This field is required
This field is required
This field is required

By continuing, you understand that you are submitting your information to Natives Group. The information that you provide will be used and stored in accordance with our Privacy Policy. If you have any queries, please contact

Article by

Rich Campbell

Head of Marketing