M. Harris & Co.

Science Ambassador Scholarship


DIGITAL MARKETING: Science Ambassador Scholarship


Cards Against Humanity assigned M. Harris & Co. the following goal: Increase the number of applicants to its Science Ambassador Scholarship, a full-ride scholarship to college for a woman majoring in a STEM field.

The budget: $1,000.

The team decided to run ads on Facebook and Instagram, and experimented with four targeting strategies.

  1. By interest. This targeted ads at young women who noted interest in a STEM field in their Facebook profile.

  2. By major. The scholarship is open to women in college, most of whom declare their major on their Facebook page.

  3. At moms. Perhaps a nudge from a parent would do more than anything else to get a young woman to apply?

  4. Lookalike targeting. We took the email addresses of all applicants’ from the prior year’s program and uploaded them into Facebook. Facebook’s algorithms then created an audience that looked exactly like those young women and showed the ads only to them.

Within 24 hours it became clear that Facebook’s algorithms could outperform any targeting scheme we could develop, and we quickly shifted all spend to the lookalike strategy.

Applications increased by approximately 80 percent, and we’ve repeated the targeting strategy on a slightly higher budget ($1,500) for three years in a row. The average cost per click is an impressive 9 cents, and the campaign’s frequency has always run below 1.5.