Advertising to Students: 8 Ways to Overcome Common Roadblocks

Topics: Millennials + Gen Z, Digital Media, Media + Advertising, Campus Media

Posted by: Marketing

We know how important advertising to students is. But we also know the difficulties inherent in advertising to young adults. This is a tech savvy generation. Many don’t watch broadcast TV, listen to terrestrial radio or subscribe to cable. They’ve been taught to be skeptical of advertising and are well acquainted with the use of ad blockers. Fortunately there are many effective ways to reach this valuable audience.

Next Generation Campus Marketing Campaigns


#1 Go digital and go mobile.

Today’s young people are digital natives. Research shows that for Gen Z (which accounts for about a quarter of the U.S. population), the internet is their medium of choice and smartphones are omni-present. In fact, approximately half of this generation spends 10 hours a day online while teens are on their smartphones an average of 3 hours a day. The digital landscape is where they socialize, study, shop and get their news.


Technology Use infographic crop




Mobile marketing is a multi-faceted component of a digital marketing approach. It aims to reach the target audience through their mobile device (smartphone, tablet, etc.) using web browsers, email, text messaging, social media and/or mobile apps. 


+ Conduct a successful mobile advertising campaign for a college audience.


#2 Put social media marketing to work.

A recent Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults found the following: 

  • 84% of adults ages 18 to 29  use social media.
  • 70% of those ages 18 to 29 use Facebook
  • Certain sites or apps, particularly Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok, have an especially strong following among young adults. The majority of 18- to 29-year-olds use Instagram and/or Snapchat, while roughly half use TikTok.
  • 70% of Facebook users access the site daily, including 49% who visit several times a day. 
  • 71% of Snapchat users ages 18 to 29 access the app daily, including 60% who visit multiple times a day. 
  • 73% of 18- to 29-year-old Instagram users visit the site every day, with 53% accessing the platform several times per day.


MSSmedia Social Media Behavior




Social media ad impressions are up 20%, year over year. Here are a few social media marketing stats worth noting: 

  • 80% of social referrals to e-commerce sites come from Facebook. 
  • Worldwide, the average Facebook user has clicked 12 ads in the last 30 days. 
  • 928.5 million people can be reached by ads on Instagram. 
  • 92% of Instagram users say they’ve followed a brand, clicked on their website, or made a purchase after seeing a product/service on the platform.


+ Increase engagement among college students using social media ads. 


#3. Use peer-to-peer and influencer marketing.

Younger generations are interested in authenticity, not salesmanship. They prefer insights from their peers, people whose lives are like theirs, rather than from authorities, celebrities or people who seem “too cool” to be true. This makes peer-to-peer and influencer marketing particularly effective when advertising to students.



Creative without strategy is called 'art.' Creative with strategy is called 'advertising.'” 



#4 Make your message meaningful.

Supporting a good cause is the perfect way to incentivize Millennials and Gen Z to act. Showing that you care about making the world a better place is something these audiences can get behind. From environmental protection to civil rights, align your messaging with a good cause, and you are sure to see a positive impact on audience engagement. It also pays to feature diversity that reflects the social reality when advertising to students.




#5 Engage audiences with video marketing.

With compelling video creation and proper placement, you can convey your message to your target audience more efficiently and effectively than ever before. A recent Wyzowl study shared some impressive facts about the amazing influence video marketing has on consumers:

  • The average person watches more than 1.5 hours of online video content per day.
  • 72% of people would rather use video to learn about a product or service.
  • 76% of marketers say video helped them increase traffic and sales.
  • 81% of people have been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video.
  • Having watched a branded video that they enjoyed, 83% of consumers would consider sharing it with their friends.

An effective video marketing strategy is especially important for companies who hope to reach members of Generation Z, who stream an average of 23 hours of video each week. If time and budget allow, we strongly recommend including both paid ad campaigns and free opportunities in your video marketing strategy. 


+ Develop an effective video marketing strategy.


#6 Invest in audio advertising. 

Audio advertising is an excellent tool for businesses to add to their digital marketing toolbox. Advertisers can buy space on streaming platforms like Pandora, Spotify and Stitcher, and strategically target users who fit their desired audience profile. While the audio streaming space is relatively new and continues to emerge, it’s increasing in popularity each year and shows no signs of slowing down. More and more users are shifting to multimedia and audio streaming platforms every day.


MSSmedia Podcast Stats




#7 Utilize OTT advertising. 

Streaming media ads, also known as over-the-top (OTT) ads, allow marketers to present commercials directly to viewers through streaming video services, smart TVs etc., bypassing network and cable TV providers. 

Not only can OTT advertising be more affordable than traditional paid television advertising, it also gives marketers the ability to speak directly to consumers in a personalized and interactive way. Customized OTT content is made possible by the vast amount of data OTT customer interaction provides, which far exceeds the simple information on viewing habits and basic demographics available to traditional TV advertisers.


OTT Advertising


#8 Don’t discard OOH advertising.

The Out of Home Advertising Association of America explains that “OOH goes where most other media can’t go to surround and immerse consumers out of home, where they spend 70 percent of their waking hours.” That explains why this traditional form of advertising is still wildly successful if executed correctly.

OOH advertising offers a number of advantages when advertising to students:

  • OOH campaigns allow you to target your marketing efforts geographically, concentrating your message on your intended viewership.
  • Strategically placed OOH ads generate excellent repeat exposure. 
  • The visual impact of OOH advertising delivers lots of bang for your buck. 
  • Viewers can’t turn traditional campus advertising off, scroll past it, or fast forward through it.
  • Regardless of time frame or budget, there’s an OOH advertising option that fits your needs and will help you meet your goals. 
  • Statistics have shown that traditional print media is trusted much more than online advertising and social media. 




Looking for more information on how to run a successful campus media campaign? See our complete guide to advertising to university students.




Here at MSS Media, Inc., we’ve been providing Education, Government, Real Estate & Lifestyle clients with succinct, optimized, and successful marketing solutions for more than 15 years. Consider MSS Media, Inc. a full-service, one-stop shop for all your Media and Public Relations needs. Your goals are our motivation. And our mission is to propel your message, further and faster, to achieve the outcomes you’re looking for. If you found this blog post helpful, please share!

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