College campuses are high value targets for advertising companies, but with the onset of the internet and mobile devices, traditional media is becoming ineffective.
A diverse range of special interest groups have a presence on college campuses during the fall and spring semesters, in an effort to recruit, solicit to, or inform college students. The likes of organizations such as The Invisible Children, The American Red Cross, The United States Army, Ron Paul, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness and even C-SPAN, can be seen on campus throughout the academic year. Their presence can be noticed through their posters, e-mails, chalk, tables, speakers, inflatable colons, temporary army obstacle courses, buses, trailers, concerts, and other forms of media and events on campus.
General commercial companies selling goods such as The Coca-Cola Company, Red Bull, Vans, and Monster Beverage Company have more of a permanent relationship with students on college campuses due to their targeting of the freshman entering into the college student body. Studies conducted by the advertising industry demonstrate just how lucrative advertisers see new college students being for the companies that they represent. Companies find the before school rush to be the most lucrative moment in their marking towards students. This time is when students spend the most on products they think they’ll need to impress their colleagues with or to even get by in what they think will be a more challenging setting than what they’ve had to deal with in the past.
“Before they arrive on campus this fall college students will spend significant dollars on everything from clothing and shoes to computers and supplies. Reaching out to college students is a powerful opportunity for marketers to cultivate a lasting brand relationship with a potent demographic group,” reports Burst Media Corporation’s monthly magazine, Online Insights for the month of July 2007.
Burst Media Corporation conducted an online survey of 439 college students between the ages of 18 and 24, in order to figure out how much and which forms of media they consume, the company also wanted to find out how college students are earning their money, and what are the deciding factors in determining what brand college students prefer.
The 2007 survey found that the internet was the best way to reach 18 to 24 year olds. One third of college students who were surveyed spend more than ten hours per week on the internet, and nearly one fifth of all students spend more than twenty hours per week using the internet. Only one sixth of students surveyed watched television for more than ten hours per week and even less used was radio, whether it was local radio stations or satellite radio stations, nearly 5% of students survived listened to the radio for more than ten hours per week.
Even with a small amount of students still using television and radio, they are still more accurately reached through the internet because half of all students surveyed are using the internet at the same time that they are watching television, while the other half is listening to the radio while they are using the internet at the same time.
The majority of this time on the internet is spent instant messaging, downloading music, streaming online concerts, homework, online gaming, entertainment gossip, streaming internet radio, and reading up on the news. The amount of internet users is only going to grow considering that half of all college students are either going to purchase a cellular phone or a laptop computer before the start of their freshmen year in college, which would only increase the amount of time that the students would be using to be on the internet per week.
A 2008 study of American college students, released by NASPA, formerly the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (now referred to as the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education), found that students are more concerned with national and international news than they are with local news. It also concluded that students find politics to be the most important topic to keep up with; followed by entertainment and news coming out of the professions that the student is studying for.
This national study found that half of all students most often use the internet, along with newspapers that also have an online presence, television news only being used by a quarter of students. However two thirds of college students only read newspapers, online or in print, no more than twice a week, if they check in with those publications at all. The NASPA study into media consumption also found that half of all American students sometimes or rarely read their published college newspaper. 18% of students read their college newspaper very often.
Nearly 85% of students watch less than 4 hours of television per week and radio suffers the most in the 2008 study with nearly half of the surveyed students listening to it less than hour per week. Magazines do much better than the radio with half of the students in the study consuming at least a magazine or two regularly.
A more recent survey, released in January of 2012, which was conducted by Noel-Levitz, OmniUpdate, CollegeWeekLive, and the National Research Center for College & University Admissions found that around 75% of students going into college are using Facebook and Youtube, even on their phones. The same group did a 2011 survey that found out only 9% of college students had Twitter accounts, yet the 2012 report shows Twitter being used by 25% of college students. Noel-Levitz attributes this higher amount of usage than users to the fact that a majority of Twitter traffic is companies linking actual web pages to people’s Twitter accounts.
A survey of 99 New Mexico State University students found that text messaging, email, and general word of mouth was the most effective way to reach students, with it being the primary method for one quarter of NMSU students to stay notified about campus events and receive their news. After communication with friends, the streets are the best way to reach NMSU students with 17% of students surveyed saying that they get their information from chalk drawing and writings; posters; and graffiti that they see on campus.
Facebook and the NMSU Student Hotline are nearly as effective as things written on the street when it comes to reaching students. The Corbett Student Union’s importance in getting media out to students is also exemplified with 10% of students either getting their news from the printed edition of the Round Up or from the tabling by clubs that occurs on campus. The free copies of the New York Times are found to only reach 5% of NMSU students, being half as read on campus, compared to The Round Up.
The least effective forms of campus media were News 22, KRWG, The Round Up’s online publication (The Round Up Daily), free copies of the USA Today (which are normally found next to the free copies of the New York Times), The Merge (which is on par with the Round Up Daily in student consumption), and Twitter.
What these studies show is that Twitter is useless and over hyped, the high traffic that it claims to have comes from reposting information from other sites and even then it is low compared to Facebook or Youtube. While all information needs to have an online presence the most effective way to reach people is through personal communication, not spamming people but creating a general relationship with the people the media wants to reach. Most effectively this means passing information on between already established networks such as friends giving each other updates.
In the case of the print editions of a local college paper, the key seems to be convenience considering that national newspapers are only in half as many locations. This is evident in the lack of traffic coming towards the college online publications. The reason why campus media is ineffective is because it is not within the personal cloud of information that students pull from. Without having a presence in the venues that students already access, campus media will remain under utilized by students who don’t want to go out of their way for information (something that is made literal by how effective chalk writing, posters, and graffiti are considering that they are read as the student is traveling throughout the campus).