opinion

College Students Hate Mobile Ads!

Joe D
The college student has always been #1 with marketers in just about any industry. They shop, they buy, they are technology savvy and trendy – the college student truly is the marketer’s dream. You may not already be aware that nearly 100% of all college students in the United States have mobile phones. A majority of them are using a touchscreen or smartphone - and the rest generally have at least some sort of feature-phone device. This makes today’s college student ripe and ready for mobile advertising and marketing campaigns – right? Wrong!

According to a survey just this summer conducted using college students at Ball State University and reported by eMarketer, most college students consider their mobile phones and devices to be personal in nature. They use them to communicate with friends and family, and because of this, mobile ads are seen as intrusive and annoying. Approximately 51% of students who own smartphones claim to have seen mobile advertising, with text ads being the most commonly received, and just over 61% of feature-phone users had seen the ads as well.

With such a negative reaction to mobile advertising – with 40% saying they were “annoyed” and only 1.2% that said they were pleased (and another 17.6% that remained neutral) – nearly 30% of students surveyed stated that they would be LESS likely to purchase a product that was marketed to them via mobile advertising, simply because of the intrusion. Some stated that their intent to purchase would remain unchanged, but only a very slight few claimed that the ads encouraged or inspired a new purchase plan.

So what would get college students to start viewing ads on their mobile phones and devices? Well – it wouldn’t take much. Free ringtones and music were claimed to be the most popular exchange being made by the students, with nearly two-thirds of students saying they would view ads if they were paid to see them; and most agreeing that $1 would be a good payment for reading or viewing the advertisements. Coupons were also suggested as “payment” for viewing mobile ads, and piqued the interest of about half the surveyed students.

All in all, 44.3% still said that no matter what was offered or exchanged, they would not be interested in receiving mobile ads for any reason. However, 37% said that paid or free incentives would make them more apt to read or view mobile ads. With regard to coupons or discounts offered, many students stated that they would be most interested in deals at sit-down style restaurants, movie theaters and fast food (in that order) as compensation.

This data may seem a little harsh and anti-mobile advertising, but the numbers have actually improved from a marketing survey conducted back in 2009. Back then, a study done by Participatory Marketing Network revealed that targeted text ads were a major turnoff for students, making them less likely to make any purchases at the companies they even previously had relationships with in the past.

College students will always be a major target for marketers – on the Internet, via mobile devices and in the real world. Unique marketing efforts such as “non-advertising” campaigns that use sponsored or branded applications and tools have been seen by students as “less intrusive,” however at this point with only approximately half of all students having access to smartphones, it will cut the numbers accessible by such a marketing plan in half as well.

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