More Relevant Ads to Roll out to College Students

Marketers know the future rides on them: College students. This year, 11.6 million college students are smartphone users and that number will jump significantly over the next 4 years. College students know what they like in mobile ads and smart marketers will be delivering the preferred formats to this influential group.

College students may be buying fewer laptops these days but that’s mostly because they know they can get what they need on mobile devices. About 67% of students currently own a mobile device. By 2016, at least 91.4% of the 17 million young adults in college will have a smartphone. Michael Hanley, an associate professor of advertising and director of Ball State’s Institute for Mobile Media Research, says that tablets may become the next must-​have device on campus. All of these mobile devices allow students to stay connected but they don’t engage in traditional communication like email or phone calls. Instead, they’ll reach out through texting or social networks.

Either way, college students are a valuable audience for businesses, even if they aren’t big spenders yet. They have some money and strong opinions about what ads they prefer. Here are the ads they report receiving:

  • Text ad: 72.4%
  • Ad with link to Internet: 36.6%
  • Visual ad: 24.0%
  • Audio ad: 11.4%

The trick for marketers is to get their message across without annoying their target audience. Only 2.4% of students are pleased to get a mobile ad of any type. Nearly 70% find these ads annoying and as a result 44.2% say they are less likely to purchase a product. Marketers can increase their chances of success by delivering ‘fun content’ that is sharable or by offering discounts or coupons.

Marketers can learn more about consumer reaction to mobile ads by checking out the Mobile Marketing Responders Audience Interests & Attitudes Report from Ad-ology.

[Source: College Students Challenge Marketers on Mobile. Emarketers​.com. 28 Aug. 2012. Web. 5 Sept. 2012; Smartphone use by collegians dramatically increases. Ball State University. Feb 2012. Web. 5 Sept. 2012] 
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.