College Students Respond Negatively to Mobile Ads

We’ve heard plenty about how members of Gen Y want information on the go. Most of these younger consumers are constantly attached to their mobile phones. So marketers figure that the best way to reach these consumers is to deliver mobile ads. Unfortunately, the results of one consumer survey indicate that a significant percentage of college students is less than pleased to receive a mobile ad.

Currently, only about half of college students have smart phones but that number is expected to increase over the next few years. Marketers have already begun mobile promotion of products and services to this demographic. In the group of female students recently studied by Ball State University, about half had seen ads on phones. Here’s a summary of their response to the ads:

  • Annoyed 40%
  • Neutral 17.6%
  • Pleased 1.2%

Marketers understand that consumers often have a negative response to advertising. It’s the action taken after seeing an ad that is most important for campaign success. In the case of this survey pool, it’s more bad news for marketers. Students said they’d take the following actions after seeing an ad on their mobile phones.

  • More likely to buy in response seeing the ad: 4.5%
  • Will not buy in response to seeing the ad: 44.3%
  • Will accept watching an ad if they are offered a  free ringtone or free music: 37%
  • Will watch ad if the marketer pays them at least a dollar: 66%
  • Will accept a coupon via a text message: 57.8%

In addition, students had clear preferences for the type of coupons they’d like to receive. They’re most open to coupons from full-​service, fast casual and quick serve restaurants as well as cinemas.

For now, restaurants and movie theaters may realize strong returns on mobile coupon campaigns targeting college students. Otherwise, marketers should tread carefully when using mobile media to reach connected younger consumers.

[Source: College Students Annoyed by Mobile Ads. Emarketer​.com. 28 Jun. 2010] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.