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The Challenge

NOLAN is a mid-rise student housing community located in the U District of Seattle, Washington, primarily serving University of Washington students and young professionals. The community’s management group, Campus Advantage, was having a hard time pre-leasing for fall 2023. Though Seattle tends to be a later market, NOLAN was only 43% pre-leased in April 2023 while other comps in the market were steadily leasing ahead of them.

The Solution

Though NOLAN was already running social media marketing (SMM) and search engine marketing (SEM) ads with Catalyst, the team pitched a new digital strategy: geofencing ads. Geofencing is a form of programmatic advertising that sets up a virtual boundary around a desired location and allows you to serve ads to individuals within that space. The Catalyst team created a set of ads that aligned with the NOLAN brand and promoted a location-based selling point: “Only minutes away from the UW campus!” The ads also featured bright colors, high-quality community photography, and an inciting call to action for viewers.

The NOLAN on-site team noticed competitors in the area were receiving higher traffic, so Catalyst focused on targeting the geofencing ads to these specific locations as well as popular nearby coffee shops and on-campus locations.

The Results

NOLAN’s geofencing campaign ran from April 26, 2023 to July 26, 2023. In that time, the community experienced a strong increase in walk-in traffic — a primary KPI for this type of digital campaign — specifically from other student housing communities. More than 80% of traffic was attributed to NOLAN’s primary competitor in the U District.

The majority of ad clicks came from individuals within the targeted on-campus locations. Specifically, UW’s Husky Union Building resulted in 107 clicks with a .14% click-through rate. As a result of this success, Catalyst continues to recommend a mix of local hot spots and top competitors for successful geofence targeting.

By the end of July, NOLAN’s pre-leasing numbers had increased from 43% to 89%.

The ad creative also performed well, based on industry benchmarks. Some other reporting highlights include:

  • An average click-through rate of .21%, compared to the industry benchmark of .13% to .15%
  • More than 300,000 total impressions delivered

Download the full case study