In today's rapidly changing and increasingly digital landscape, businesses often struggle to choose the marketing tactics that will help them achieve their desired results. Companies trying to reach younger audiences may be tempted to abandon traditional advertising tactics in favor of an entirely virtual approach. However, when done correctly, campus advertising remains a highly effective way to reach and engage teenagers and young adults.
+ whO is on campus?
Campus advertising reaches a vast, diverse, and economically powerful consumer group.
How big is the college student market?
College students comprise a significant portion of the young adult population in the United States. According to EducationData.org:
- Undergraduate college enrollment totals 17.5 million students nationwide.
- 4.3 million graduate students are enrolled in American colleges.
- 12.8 million of American 18- to 24-year-olds are enrolled in college or graduate school.
- 37.8% of American males aged 18 to 24 years are enrolled in college or graduate school.
- 46.7% of American females aged 18 to 24 years are enrolled in college or graduate school.
Who does campus advertising reach?
Campus ads reach a widely varied audience in terms of both gender and race.
- 55.5% of undergraduate and graduate students are women.
- 55.2% of college students are Caucasian.
- 19.5% of the student population is Hispanic or Latino.
- 9.6% of college students are Black or African American.
- 7% of college students are Asian, and 3% are Pacific Islander.
- 3.9% of students are multiracial or of two or more races.
While most college students are between the ages of 18 and 24, campus advertising also reaches their parents, professors, coaches, and other influencers. Advertising on campus is also an excellent way for businesses to reach a variety of niche audiences, including Hispanic college students, multicultural college students, African American college students, low HHI college students, students at HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities), and major-specific audiences, like STEM and tech-related majors.
Impacting Gen Z (& Their Influencers)
92.0% of college students are under the age of 24, and therefore belong to Generation Z. While understanding how best to reach this group is of paramount importance for effective campus marketing, advertisers also need to get through to parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches, and others who are influential in the lives of young adults.
Companies advertising on campus must have an up-to-date understanding of smartphone, social media, and internet use by demographic.
Affecting Niche Audiences (How & Why)
Why advertise to Hispanic college students?
The importance of advertising to Hispanic college students cannot be overstated. Almost 20% of the post-secondary student population is Hispanic or Latino, and this is a rapidly growing demographic. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that the number of Hispanic consumers in this country will grow from 50 million to 133 million by 2050. As a whole, the American Hispanic community has an annual purchasing power of over $1.5 trillion, and this continues to increase rapidly. When you advertise to Hispanic college students, not only do you influence them, you impact their families and friends as well.
“Diversity is a strength, not a weakness.”
– ANTONIO GUTERRES
Advertise to multicultural college students effectively.
College campuses are becoming increasingly diverse. In fact, only 55% of current post-secondary school students are Caucasian. Targeting other college demographics is an important way to maximize the return on your campus marketing investment.
Advertise to African American college students.
African Americans are a historically underserved advertising market in the United States. Not only do many marketers not know how to effectively target this population segment, they also don’t understand the importance of doing so. The fact is that African American consumers spend proportionally more on both certain essentials and luxury items. In addition, their purchasing decisions strongly influence both minority and mainstream consumer culture.
Why advertise at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)?
HBCUs offer all students, regardless of race, an opportunity to develop their skills and talents. Though HBCUs make up only three percent of the country’s colleges and universities, they enroll 10% of all African American students and produce almost 20% of all African American graduates. Because HBCUs offer a significantly lower cost of attendance than comparable colleges, higher graduation rates, and impressive lifetime earnings advantages for graduates, HBCU students are likely to have more money to spend both during college and for the rest of their lives.
Advertise to low HHI college students.
The share of American adults who live in middle class households has steadily contracted in the past five decades, while the percentage of low income households continues to rise. Almost one-third of households in the U.S. now qualify as low income, and this trend shows no sign of stopping. Marketers who currently focus their advertising efforts on middle and upper class audiences would do well to consider reaching out to this growing sector of the population. Advertising to college students who come from low income households offers several significant benefits.
Why advertise to STEM (and other major-specific) audiences?
Every year, hundreds of thousands of American college students graduate with a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics) degree. These young adults are highly likely to find a job straight out of college, remain fully employed, and make significantly more money than their peers.
+ why campus advertising?
Campus advertising is valuable to an incredible range of businesses for a few different reasons.
Campus advertising reaches college students at a pivotal point in their development as consumers.
As they transition from teenagers to twenty-somethings, college students take their first steps into true adulthood. They are responsible for meeting more of their own needs, and their consumer demands grow. They’re eating away from home, furnishing dorm rooms and apartments, taking responsibility for their own transportation, shopping for new wardrobes, and expanding their entertainment horizons. Many come from affluent homes and have plenty of disposable income.
Every year, millions of college students graduate and begin professional jobs, many earning more money than they ever have before. In fact, in recent years, the median earnings of young adults with a bachelor’s degree was $50,000 (64% higher than those of young adults with only a high school diploma).
The college years are prime time for businesses and brands to get in on the ground floor, create connections with this group of potential customers, present solutions to their challenges, and build brand trust and loyalty.
College students have significant purchasing power.
Because students from more affluent backgrounds are significantly more likely to enroll in college, many college students can afford higher end housing, dining out, a variety of paid entertainment options, and other non-essential and luxury purchases. In fact, college students collectively have $593 billion available to spend.
In addition to paying for tuition, here’s how some of that spending breaks down:
- As a group, per year, college students spend $65 billion on food, $5.5 billion on alcohol, and $2.4 billion on entertainment.
- In the course of earning a 4-year degree, the average college student will spend almost $53,000 on personal expenses, $16,500 on rent, and $4,000 on eating out.
Campus advertising offers unique marketing advantages.
Campus advertising campaigns allow you to target your marketing efforts geographically. College students are a captive audience – living, learning, working, eating, shopping and socializing within a limited area. Strategically placed ads concentrate your campaign on your intended viewers and generate repeat exposure.
The visual impact of traditional university advertising delivers excellent bang for your buck. After all, you can’t turn traditional campus advertising off, scroll past it, or fast forward through it. This explains why a large percentage of consumers notice static and mobile billboards, and many of them take related follow-up actions. Digital campus media also has an important role to play when it comes to reaching the incredibly connected members of Generation Z.
Regardless of time frame or budget, there’s a campus advertising option that fits your needs and will help you meet your goals.
+ wHAT TACTICS ARE AVAILABLE?
Campus advertising options truly run the gamut.
The visual impact of traditional campus media delivers excellent bang for your buck. From bike shelters to newspaper kiosks to bus wraps, offline campus ads have the power to gain outstanding exposure and impressions. As one of the first advertising touchpoints, physical media increases brand awareness and recognition.
In addition, the vast majority of university attendees are deeply enmeshed in the digital landscape, making the online platforms a vital part of your marketing efforts. Digital ads can help you achieve a variety of business goals across the marketing funnel, ranging from brand awareness, to customer engagement, to launching new products and driving repeat sales. Not only that, you can target your digital ads in incredibly specific ways, optimize them almost effortlessly, and track their effectiveness with amazing precision.
Traditional Campus Media Tactics:
- Out-of-home advertising (OOH)
- Digital out of home advertising (DOOH)
- Transit advertising
- Newspaper ads
- Tabling events
Digital Campus Media Tactics:
- Search advertising
- Display advertising
- Campus audio advertising
- Video advertising
Integrated Campus Ad Campaigns
By combining traditional and digital campus advertising tactics, you extend your reach while each part of your marketing campaign amplifies the efforts of the others.
+ WHO SHOULD ADVERTISE ON CAMPUS?
Campus advertising is right for a wide variety of businesses, institutions, and organizations.
- Campus advertising serves higher education recruiters, especially internal college and university departments looking to raise awareness, enrollment, and participation of students in specific programs. This includes colleges within the university, specific majors, graduate programs, health and safety programs, housing departments, and more.
Discover the top three ways to promote school programs on campus.
- Campus advertising serves student housing property managers looking to increase brand awareness, attract more qualified applicants, maintain market share, or optimize leasing occupancy.
- Campus advertising serves other industries that are looking to recruit the college demographic, from federal recruiters to private employers to charitable organizations in need of volunteers.
- Campus advertising serves companies that want to increase awareness, brand loyalty, and all forms of engagement among college students. This includes a vast array of industries, represented by student housing companies, restaurants, bars, retail establishments, service providers, and much much more.
Sell subscription services effectively with campus conversion campaigns.
Promote your event on campus with our powerful college media strategies.
Learn five ways to publicize enrollment deadlines.
+ HOW DO I ADVERTISE ON CAMPUS?
Our firm offers some additional benefits that make university advertising even easier and more effective for our clients. We own out-of-home advertising assets on campuses nationwide (including Puerto Rico). In addition, we offer creative digital media management and optimization services that amplify the results of traditional advertising campaigns. From geo-targeted mobile campaigns to search and display ads, we can follow the college demographic throughout their digital day, placing your ads on their screens and in their hands.
+ How much does it cost to advertise on campus?
Every situation is different, and the amount you’ll pay for a campus advertising campaign depends on several elements. These include your ultimate reach and frequency goals and the size of your budget. However, our experience has shown that there is a baseline level of funding necessary to run an effective college advertising effort.
“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”
– WARREN BUFFET
To run a productive campaign on a single campus, you will need to have a minimum of $5,000 available to spend. Whether your budget is large or small, working with an experienced campus advertising agency will help you make the most of your money.
+ College back-to-school advertising is important.
The back-to-school season is a prime advertising time for businesses targeting college students (and their parents). Whether young adults are preparing to head back to campus or step foot on campus for the first time, they’re a fertile advertising field.
From increased brand awareness and loyalty to driving traffic, engagement, and sales, there are a host of reasons to include college back-to-school advertising in your marketing mix. To maximize ROI, brand awareness, trust, and loyalty must be formed before back-to-school shopping begins. That means back-to-school advertising is a year-round effort, not a short-term commitment.
+ WHERE SHOULD I ADVERTISE?
There are a number of factors that make a specific campus a good place to advertise.
However, what’s right for one company may not be right for another. Organizations should consider a variety of things, including the size and location of the campus, the makeup and interests of the student population, and the advertising options available.
Often, for small businesses, proximity is key. For example, if you are a small local business, looking to the largest campus in your market may be a great way to build brand awareness and bring in a new customer base.
If you are a brand of scale/national, the size of the school, notoriety, or market DMA may dictate where your college media buy should occur. For example, Lyft ran a national campus campaign based on the key markets where they were launching their rideshare services (in Houston, they looked to the University of Houston, in LA they advertised at UCLA and USC, and so forth).
Brand affinity also plays a role. For example, Rutgers students clearly have an existing affinity with the Rutgers brand. Therefore, the Rutgers School of Business can build greater awareness about their various programs, specialties, deadlines for applications, etc. by advertising on the Rutgers transit system.
Where are some of the best places to advertise?
EXCELLENT CAMPUSES FOR AD CAMPAIGNS
+ RUTGERS UNIVERSITY
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, stands among America’s highest-ranked, most diverse public research universities. As the oldest, largest, and top-ranked public university in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area, it offers incredible opportunities for campus marketing.
+ UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA/UCLA
There are many reasons why Los Angeles - a global center for arts, technology, and international business - is home to hundreds of thousands of college students. If you’re looking to reach this important target market, you will certainly want to advertise at the University of Southern California and UCLA.
+ FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY
Florida International University (FIU) is a Top 50 public university that drives real talent and innovation in Miami and globally. It is an urban, multi-campus, public research university serving a large and diverse student body and the eclectic population of South Florida. U.S. News and World Report places dozens of FIU programs among the best in the nation.
+ UNIVERSITY OF CENTRAL FLORIDA
University of Central Florida (UCF) is ranked among the top 15 Most Innovative Universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Its researchers attract more than $200 million a year in grants and awards. With a diverse student body and more than 220 degree programs in 13 colleges, UCF offers expansive educational and advertising opportunities.
+ UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS CHICAGO
University of Illinois Chicago is Chicago’s largest and most diverse university. They’ve been named a top 25 public university and a top 10 best value college by the Wall Street Journal, as well being featured in the top 30 ethnically diverse colleges and named number 8 for social mobility by U.S. News & World Report. Located in the heart of the city, this urban campus provides excellent opportunities to reach an extensive array of students, staff, and visitors.
+ MINNESOTA STATE UNIVERSITY
Minnesota State University Mankato (MNSU) offers an extensive range of degree programs that appeal to a wide variety of scholars. A growing international reputation for breakthrough research distinguishes the University, as does the unique quality of life that marks the proud community of greater Mankato. Located in the scenic Minnesota River valley approximately 80 miles southwest of Minneapolis-St. Paul, MNSU encompasses 354 acres.
+ UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON
Established in 1927, the University of Houston (UH) has a proud heritage of academic excellence and is ranked among the best colleges in America. In addition to nationally ranked education programs, cutting-edge research centers, world-class libraries and state-of-the-art facilities, UH is home to award-winning faculty, alumni who have become international leaders, and one of the most diverse student populations in the nation.
+ VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH UNIVERSITY
Founded in 1838, Virginia Commonwealth University (or VCU) is ranked a top 100 research university by the National Science Foundation and is home to one of the top-ranked public graduate arts schools. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU is a big university in the middle of a bustling city.
Businesses looking to maximize their marketing success need to broaden their horizons. They must explore fresh avenues and forge new meaningful relationships. For many, this includes reaching out to students at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Learn why you should advertise at HBCUs like those below today.
+ HOWARD UNIVERSITY
Founded in 1867, Howard University is a culturally rich and diverse university and one of the world's most prestigious destinations for professionals in health, science, engineering, art, law, and education.
+ NORTH CAROLINA A&T UNIVERSITY
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University a top-flight research university, the largest historically black university in the country, the #1 producer of degrees awarded to African Americans in North Carolina, and nationally recognized for excellence in STEM education.
+ COPPIN STATE UNIVERSITY
Since 1900, Coppin State University has been inspiring students from Maryland and beyond to achieve greatness in and out of the classroom. With a proud history, colorful traditions and deep community roots, Coppin State students and faculty are giving back to surrounding Baltimore communities, winning prestigious awards and much more.
+ SUCCESSFUL CAMPUS ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
Here at MSS Media, Inc., we’ve been providing education, government, real estate, and lifestyle clients with succinct, optimized, and successful marketing solutions for almost 20 years. We’ve served 1,000+ schools since 2003. When it comes to campus advertising, we know how to get you and your brand, product, or campaign in front of all the right people in all the right ways. From branding, to awareness, to driving your ideal audience to take the desired actions, we deliver meaningful and measurable results. And now you can learn from our success!
“MSS Media has been a good way for us to get in-your-face exposure on campus. Their team is responsive and helpful.” ”
– CONNOR SMALL, YOUNG AMERICA REALTY
Enlisting the help of a results-driven media and PR agency that understands your unique needs, what motivates the college demographic, and how best to reach them is a sure-fire way to develop a winning campus advertising campaign. Take advantage of our expertise today!