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Same Same but Different: The Surprising Truth Behind Marketing to College Students

College students are more similar to previous generations than you think. A recent study by Yahoo7 analyzed their media and consumption behavior in comparison to other generations with their use of social and digital media.

“When it comes to reaching college students, we encourage advertisers to use a bit more mobile, social and online video in line with increased usage, but this doesn’t mean you should completely abandon desktop devices or traditional channels,” said Peter Hammer, head of insights and analytics at Yahoo7. The report noticed similarity in seven different channels:

  1. Digital Daily Habits

They have roughly the same average number of Top 10 digital daily habits compared to their parents and grandparents. While college students use email and news formats less than previous generations, they spend more time on social media.

  1. Social media

When comparing social media users, college students spend a similar amount of time on major social media channels of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  However, college students are connected on these channels and use them slightly more across the day.

  1. Mobile

While college students spend a larger amount of time online using their smartphones (65%), compared to their parents (33-44%), other research suggests that desktop remains dominant for email, search and news consumption.

  1. Brand Reach

While it may come as no surprise that bigger brands reach out to students more, Nielson DRM data suggests that a large number of digital publishers win over college students through key brands like Spotify and Snapchat.

  1. Video

Contrary to popular belief, college students only watch slightly less television (78% in comparison to 87% during a typical day. Furthermore, advertisers can still reach this market through video marketing, with 99% of college students watching video are exposed to ad-supported platforms.

  1. Emotional Reaction to Creative

Computer vision and machine learning techniques have discovered that students have similar engagement to “best” and “worst” creative, compared to other generations. They also have similar emotional reactions to other groups when shown the same ads.

  1. Effectiveness of Advertising

The data shows almost no difference in ad effectiveness between different generations when measuring brand recall, brand likeability and purchase consideration.

This data shows that students are not as different from other generations as assumed – although there are important differences to recognize when marketing to this group as a whole.

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