TV Ads Reach – and Influence – College Students

bncm-best-way-reach-college-students-august2012.png42% of college students say that TV ads are the most effective type of advertising, far outstripping their closest competitors, magazine (10%) and Facebook (8%) ads, per results from a Barnes & Noble College Marketing (BNCM) study released in August. TV commercials also rank as one of the top ways for a company or brand to reach students: 19% of respondents chose TV, slightly behind email (20%), but ahead of coupons (14%), Facebook ads (9%) and on-campus word-of-mouth (9%).

The prominence of TV ads comes despite the widespread use of social media and mobile communications on campus. Nevertheless, the influence of TV commercials is not surprising when viewed in the context of other studies that have similarly found TV to be the single most influential advertising medium among American adults as a whole, and among online consumers.

Most Students Engage With Brands Via Social Media

Details from BNCM’s “2012 College Marketing Report” indicate that almost two-thirds of college students engage with brands via social media at least weekly, with Facebook being the primary means to do so. A significant one-third of respondents engage with brands via social media at least 3 times a day. The primary drivers of social engagement are brand loyalty (26%), coupon offers (26%), and fun contests (19%).

Still, a slight majority of students don’t believe Facebook is an effective way to advertise to them, and 31% ignore brands on social media. And while 45% think Facebook ads are a good way to reach students, just 9% believe it is the best way.

Some Mobile Marketing Channels Not Terribly Popular

Although recent research from ScanLife indicates that QR code scanning is quickly rising, this marketing channel doesn’t appear to be have caught fire on campuses. Despite a high rate of smartphone ownership (77%) among the college students surveyed, 63% of the overall sample said they never scan QR codes located on ads. Even so – this not necessarily a poor rate – a JiWire study released in February found that an average of 1 in 5 mobile users surveyed in Q4 2011 had scanned a QR code in the past 90 days.

College students are also not fully receptive to text message campaigns, with 61% not believe these are a good way for a brand to connect with them, and only 3% saying it is the best way. Also, 58% of the students surveyed view most of their emails on their laptops, compared to 33% who view them mostly on their smartphones.

Other Findings:

  • 59% of college students believe that their friends are the biggest influences on their purchase decisions, whether online or offline.
  • Roughly two-thirds of respondents would be open to becoming an on-campus brand ambassador, and half would welcome assistance from brand ambassadors when moving in.
  • 63% of students would be willing to spend more on products that are tied to a charitable cause. A Nielsen survey released in March found that only 35% of consumers in North America would be willing to pay extra for products from companies that give back to society.

About the Data: The 2012 College Marketing Report was based on a survey of Barnes & Noble College Next Gen Research Panel, a network of more than 7,500 college students from campuses across the nation.