Washington MonthlyTaking a Legacy Media Outlet to Victory in the Digital Arena  

The Washington Monthly logo in the sky above a college campus building.

Washington Monthly, a progressive policy magazine, approached Social Driver to amplify the reach of its annual College Guide and Rankings through a digital ad campaign. Through audience insights, sophisticated segmentation and polished creative assets, we generated almost 50,000 link clicks (nearly double the goal) and over 1.7 million impressions.


Breaking through with Digital Advertising

Washington Monthly produces an annual College Guide and Rankings that redefines quality in higher education. Washington Monthly rates schools based on their contributions to society and value to students–rather than endowments or exclusivity.

While the college guide is well-respected in academia, Washington Monthly wanted to grow its footprint with a consumer audience: students, parents, alumni and high school staff members. Washington Monthly engaged Social Driver to amplify the guide through digital advertising. Our challenge: breaking through the competition as a niche publication and gaining a foothold with a new, ever-shifting audience.


Leveraging Social Ads for Audience Growth

Washington Monthly previously promoted the guide through organic social media, but they needed to pivot this strategy to meet its goals. We recommended a paid campaign on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, which offered robust targeting tools to reach a fresh audience.

Our advertising team identified key audience segments, including teens, parents, high school principals and guidance counselors. We also recommended targeting college alumni–a previously overlooked but powerful segment. Then we deployed media-buying insights and advanced channel strategies to reach the right people with the right message.

Meanwhile, we advised Washington Monthly to aim higher with the campaign–not only driving clicks to the ranking guide, but also growing website traffic and brand awareness. Our team featured existing articles to drive the audience deeper into the site and highlight Washington Monthly’s excellent journalism, building long-term brand equity.

How We Helped

Social Media
Social Media Creative

Two helmets on a football field facing each other with text that reads "How does your alma mater stack up?"

Leveraging Alumni Pride

Our design team tapped into latent alumni pride and elicited competition to motivate alumni to click, view and share the rankings. The ads sparked conversation and friendly rivalry through playful, engaging visuals, driving the highest rate of engagement across the campaign.

A Fresh, Timeless Design 

Our team collaborated with Washington Monthly to develop a creative vision that felt fresh but stayed true to their brand. We landed on a timeless design that evoked nostalgia with traditional collegiate iconography such as pennants. The ads captured the target audience's attention with eye-catching, animated visuals that stood out on users’ feeds and stories.

A gif of blue and gold college items: banner, shirt, sweatshirt, water bottle.
Text on top of a blue, grainy background that reads "We rank colleges on their good works."

Challenging Beliefs through Strong Copy

Washington Monthly motivates students to look beyond exclusivity or prestige when assessing colleges and focus on factors like civic engagement and “bang for your buck.” Our team put this vision front and center, crafting bold messaging for values-driven Generation Z students. The calls to action elicit an emotional response and prompt the audience to click.


Scoring a Campaign Touchdown

Ongoing support throughout an ad campaign is key to success. We closely monitored performance and continually refined the strategy to maximize top-performing ads. This approach generated consistent ROI that far exceeded the client’s expectations. Results included:

link clicks (76% above goal)
1.7 million
total impressions

We also delivered recommendations for future ad campaigns, including benchmarks and best practices. Washington Monthly was thrilled with the results and continues to engage Social Driver for ad campaigns for its college rankings guide.

Social Driver was superb. They met all their deadlines and communicated extremely well with us. What’s more, they were always a pleasure to interact with. We saw a significant increase in traffic to those targeted web pages, thanks to their efforts. I can’t speak highly enough of them.”

Alice Gallin-dwyer
deputy director
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