How I ran ads on Oxford for the price of a good lunch

On his post about getting an internship with GOProud, Trevor calls my plan to get into Oxfrod diabolical and too complicated to reproduce. Well now that the campaign is over I am going to share with you what I did, how I did it, and the final results.

To those of you who haven’t been following the story, after applying to the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) I started an online ad campaign designed to target faculty members. The goal of this was to demonstrate that not only did I have a deep understanding of the Internet, I also had an innovative personality that would flourish at the OII.

To start I used publicly accessible information provided by OII’s website about their staff and found the Facebook profiles of 9 of the 20 professors. I discovered their Facebook profiles only after discovering a weakness in their collective privacy settings. Dr. Kathryn Eccles had her setting relaxed enough that I found her profile and her friends list, from there it was a short hop to find 8 others. Those professors were: Prof. William H. Dutton, Prof. Helen Margetts, Dr Cristobal Cobo, Dr Eric T. Meyer, Prof. Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, Dr Ralph Schroeder, Dr. Greg Taylor and Dr. Mark Graham.

I spend 45 minutes setting up Facebook ads targeting each professor. Now while Facebook won’t let you target a specific person you can target all 49 year old women in Oxford who “like” Cake-boy. So I built 9 campaigns targeting these professors driving them to my website. Out of 30 clicks and ~50K impressions 7 unique visitors came from Oxford University’s IP addresses. Given the length of time users spent on my site and other factors like bounce rate and pages per visit, I feel confident that at least 8 if not all 9 of these professors visited my site from Facebook.

The entire goal of the Facebook campaign was to have them download a cookie onto their computer so that I could follow them with Google ads as well. Now this was where my plan hit a snag because in order to target the people who had visited my site Google required that that list include over 500 unique individuals. With the help of some friends and readers like you I was able to hit 500 users on that list within 60 hours of putting out a call for them. The ads I ran on this list were targeted to a 5 mile radius around Oxford and included search ads, text ads, image ads and the following video ad designed to illustrate that I had a great grasp on the Internet. All of this was achieved with less than $15 dollars and 5 hours of work.

Sadly this ad campaign either was taken the wrong way, wasn’t as successful as I thought it might be, or the 9 people I targeted didn’t have influence over my application. Last Friday I received a letter from the OII that informed me that my application was unsuccessful. There were 73 applicants this deadline while last year there were 81 applicants for all three combined deadlines last year and both years only 20 slots. There must have been something in my application that put me at a disadvantage compared to the other successful candidates. I hope that next time I will have a stronger and successful application.