“Things I Wish I Knew When I was a Client During Clearing”

By Tony Lyons, Head of Commercial Marketing at TSR.

“I suppose I’m becoming a little bit of an old hand at this Clearing thing; it’s hard to believe I’m on my third year at TSR and have experienced four in various roles at universities, including Head of Marketing.

Coming onto the media side of the fence has been an eye-opener in terms of traps you can fall into, and opportunities you can miss, when managing Clearing. Below I’ve captured a few things I wish I knew when I was a client. What do you think? Have I missed anything obvious or do you disagree with anything below?


The Student Room has UCAS trained advisors on hand to provide useful support and information to millions of students each year. Even if you’re not a client, remember you can always direct people to TSR and put them in touch with our abundance of trained users sharing advice to students going through Clearing.

This keeps your call handlers and social media team free to deal with potential students and allows you to send anyone else to us, we’ll look after them, I promise.


Look out for late-to-market opportunities. We’re super-agile nowadays and react to changes in the market-place and student behaviour. For example, I’ve recently tweaked our powerful SMS product to give us hyper-relevant subject audiences in the days before Clearing.

So, stay tight to your suppliers and keep a keen eye out for last minute tactical opportunities. And don’t forget results day itself – have you contingency planned? Savvy clients will have plans in place for last minute media when their results come in, or on results day itself. By working closely with your media supplier you’ll ensure access to top opportunities, available inventory and be best positioned to react effectively.


You might love that 70 second html5 billboard using the rise of the Roman Empire as an allegory for your brand, but remember Clearing & Adjustment is noisy and crowded. We find that single frame jpegs frequently outperform more complex executions so keep it simple. But don’t take my word for it – follow the data – the best media will work with you to a/b test your creative and make sure you get the best results out of every piece of inventory.

We’ll also be happy to schedule new creatives for Results Day / week in advance, this way you’ll have the most audience appropriate call-to-action. If that CTA is “call now” then be sure to use click-to-call (again, your media should be happy to work with you on implementing this).


Email is a go-to for Clearing and Adjustment, but a word to the wise – choose a media partner who sends one email per subject, per day. Clearing databases can be highly-targeted and highly-timely, but some media choose to over-send and in doing so burnout their audience quickly. Be sure to ask your supplier or agency how many sends per subject per day and then make your judgement call.

Also, if you target a course specific audience by email then please, please call that out in the subject line. “Study English at a top 50 uni” will always outperform “Study at…”.

Finally, we have carefully created Adjustment audiences for highly-engaged students that always perform well but clients don’t tend to consider. With many Clearing audiences already spoken for (across all media), savvy clients would do well to ask questions regarding Adjustment audiences.

If you want to chat Clearing and Adjustment generally or have any audiences you need to target or courses that need a helping hand, then drop me a line or contact your account manager here.”

Good luck with Results Season,