Using Data & Behavioral Insights to Build Policy Support

How Lumina Foundation & VOX Global Positioned Higher Education as Infrastructure on the Hill

The Challenge

As Congress worked to negotiate the terms of the historic Infrastructure Bill,

Lumina Foundation wanted federal policymakers to view America’s higher education system, including the country’s network of community colleges and HBCUs, as inextricably linked to the health of our economy.

The Solution

VOX Global and Lumina executed a 3-step digital advertising campaign focused on highly influential members of the Senate,

including swing voters, legislators who consistently rank as some of the most bipartisan members of Congress, and relevant committee members.


To inform the campaign, we conducted a narrative analysis

to understand how online audiences were talking about the Infrastructure Bill – and if there were opportunities for Lumina to lead the conversation around higher ed.


Then, we served paid Facebook ads to highly engaged Lumina audiences

about the importance of investing in education beyond high school as a strategy for economic recovery and growth. Engagements with these ads created the social proof that policymakers needed to give them political cover for supporting higher education’s inclusion in the infrastructure talks.


Finally, using robust data acquired through publicly available online sources,

programmatic connections to public data bases, and licensed access to third-party proprietary datasets, we served the same ads to federal policymakers and their most trusted contacts – the people in their “Wheel of Influence” who have their ear and influence the way they think and behave.

The Results

The “social proof” phase of the campaign earned more than 26,000 engagements and an engagement rate of 4.94% - nearly a 50% increase on Lumina’s 2021 Facebook engagement rate average.

Phase 2 of the campaign earned nearly 300,000 impressions with an average frequency of 16 – meaning that policymakers and their trusted contacts saw an average of four ads a week over the four weeks the campaign was live for increased message retention and recall.

There were more than 1,500 engagements with our ads from notable donors, staffers, friends and former colleagues and classmates of our key Senators.

Lessons Learned


Social proof matters

Much of the success of Phase 1 was driven by the audience targeting. Because these individuals has recently engaged with other Lumina content, we were able to tap into their desire for consistency and increase their likelihood of engagement. This laid a strong foundation for the Phase 2 ads to come.


Be precise

The targeting deployed in Phase 2 was aimed at maximizing the likelihood that the legislators would see our ads or hear about it from their sphere of influence. This tactic can be used in future campaigns to reach state and national legislators as well as administration officials and appointees.


Make it relevant and salient

Across both phases of the campaign, audiences were split by state while messaging and imagery were personalized to them. This helped “stop the scroll” as users saw content directly relevant to them. This was incredibly important to Phase 2 where we had to maximize every impression.

Team Members

Emily Sandberg_2
Emily Sandberg

Senior Vice President

James Baril_2
James Baril


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