If you clicked on this link you probably either have a steady understanding of the basics of PPC (AdWords) digital advertising. You’re probably hoping this post has some specific information about what effective placement targeting is for independent schools or higher ed. Unfortunately I can’t tell you that. It depends on your specific situation and how much you’re willing to spend (or reallocate from print ads).
I can share some evidence that I know the basics of AdWords through my re-certification (which I’ve noted would be a problematic qualification in isolation (without the related experience in managing effective digital campaigns for my school)) and some notes on managed placements (usually manually- or batch-selected websites on which to pay to have display ads).
I can tell you that I’ve found success in using managed placements, choosing websites that our prospective parents are likely to visit normally or visit in the course of choosing a school. Once you have some experience with different targeting settings, you may find that having granular control over what websites you’d like to advertise on (and even how much you’re willing to bid for your ad(s) on that site.
The placement targeting option below will choose a group of websites on or related to the chosen topic.
There is middle ground between the largely automated and primarily manual options, there’s a middle ground that entails choosing topics and keeping a close eye on the performance in the Display Network-> Placements tab and adjusting bids and excluding placements that don’t make sense for your needs. The Daily Egg post is correct in that that approach means a lot of manual work. Here’s more on that option. Best of luck!