Video content – What do prospective students really want?

Video content – What do prospective students really want?


Today’s teenagers are consuming more video content than any other generation. This presents opportunities but also challenges for universities as they try to keep up with what prospective students need and want from this medium.

Having worked with over 70 UK universities during the past 13 years to deliver a range of rich media solutions including videos, 360 virtual tours and virtual open days, Revolution Viewing has seen how maintaining engagement with young people is an ever-moving feat. This is especially true as generations, technologies and their usage develop at an increasing rate.

That’s why we continuously research what prospective students really want from university communications. The primary research we conduct helps us to give better advice to our clients and to produce more impactful solutions for prospective students that have a greater return on investment.

Following our initial research, which established how influential rich media solutions are at key points in the student recruitment cycle, Revolution Viewing teamed up with The Student Room and market research agency Vincent Consulting, in a ground-breaking study. The purpose of the study was to find out what makes video content engaging to today’s prospective students, as well as being authentic and appropriate for a university.

We took a quantitative approach (but with strong qualitative elements) and asked 300 prospective students (200 UK and 100 international) to complete an online survey where they watched a series of videos. Media Evaluator technology was used to track respondent reactions to video in real time, alongside a questionnaire of carefully crafted pre-coded and open ended questions.

The analysis of findings helped us to find answers to questions such as, ‘What makes video content authentic and engaging? How important is it for universities’ video content to evoke an emotional reaction? How well are universities currently performing in creating video content that is appealing to prospective students?’ The work we did with the University of Bradford on its Don’t Go to Bradford video campaign stands out as something that worked particularly well and is a great example of how to create engaging video content whilst challenging the norm.

This level of insight is vital in today’s climate of budget cuts and fierce competition where understanding your audience and acting on this knowledge is key to success.

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  1. Showcase your facilities and campus – it’s what prospective students want to see
  2. Feature current students and show your audience around their future life
  3. Evoke an emotional reaction – that way, your content will be more memorable
  4. Tell a story or have a clear theme
  5. Produce high quality content – this is expected and prospective students want to feel proud and reassured of their decision to engage with you
  6. Show, show, show, don’t tell, tell, tell
  7. Co-create and test ideas

If you would like to know more about Revolution Viewing’s research and how it could help your university, please contact Vicky Hayhurst at


By Vicky Hayhurst, Commercial Director, Revolution Viewing