Big results for our personalised student video

How we helped the University of Birmingham achieve a record intake of undergraduates – through the power of our cost-effective, personalised video application.


Challenge

With the aim of increasing its undergraduate acceptance rates for 2015, our client at the University of Birmingham wanted to target successful students on A-level results day with a personalised online video encouraging them to take up their offers.

The challenges involved were multifarious. The most obvious was budget – for the personalisation to be cost-effectively generated for 10,000 students with conditional offers, we needed to come up with technical solution that effectively turns a single two-minute video clip into 10,000 tailored video clips (later reduced to 5,000, as we wouldn’t know which students would get their offers confirmed until the results came in).

The communication would be sent out to the students at the same time, via an email linking to a landing page, so the video would need to be processed almost instantly, load quickly and work well on both desktop and mobile. The personalised clips would be viewed by potentially thousands more people after being shared on social media. And all without hindering the university’s website server during one of its busiest days of the year.

Solution

We knew that video editing is processor-intensive, so we developed a web-based tool using a number of software solutions to achieve a speedy configuration of all the elements. With the tool, you can create customisable text or image overlays that are sent, together with a dataset containing the personal information, to the server for loading directly on to the video. In the university’s case, this involved producing name-customised graphical text, incorporating student information within three sections of the video.

We optimised the video file so it’d be responsive to any device screen. This helped in setting a faster processing time – two to three seconds – which meant the videos could be generated as either a batch within a reasonable timeframe, or on demand by sending a request to generate the video as the user lands on the page.

To address the volume of processing and page views, we set up a three-tier cloud-based server system with a load-balancer. This was cheaper than private hosting and enabled us to scale up the services on the first day then taper them off as the campaign came to an end.

Results

Compared with a more generic version used by the University of Birmingham in 2014, our personalised video achieved 12% more views and double the number of social-media shares.

This work formed part of the highest-performing recruitment cycle in the history of the university, with a record number of offers being accepted by students with above-average grade values.

University of Birmingham

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