Study: On Campus, College Newspapers Are the Ad Rage

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By: Steve Miller/Brandweek

Local papers may be yesterday’s news for some advertisers, however college newspapers are thriving, per a new study.

Alloy Media+Marketing, New York, found that 82% of students read their campus newspaper, a rate that more than doubles most major metro dailies.

Of this group, most are also open to advertising. Only 13% said they avoid advertising in their campus newspaper. Close to 80% reported reacting to an ad or article.

College papers are an arena that is ripe for wider use by marketers, said Samantha Skey, evp-strategic marketing at Alloy. “Those marketers who are siphoning off good bits of their ad budget to get that 18-34 demographic and are not using college newspapers are missing out,” she said. Alloy surveyed 1,200 students online in April.

Coupons were found to be particularly effective in gaining brand affinity, with 78% of respondents claiming to have responded to coupons or promotional codes.

The most popular categories for coupon usage were food and clothing, with big box retailers a close third. Female students were more likely than males to use coupons.

Movie houses and automakers understand that there is a willing audience that reads their college newspapers. Fast food and consumer electronics marketers tend to advertise less in this medium, per the findings.

Ford is one brand that has maintained a presence in college newspapers for the last 20 years. Recently, it dangled a $500 coupon good for a discount on a new Ford automobile.

“College newspapers are extremely targeted and research keeps showing us that it is one of the best ways to get students’ [attention] on campus,” said Crystal Greene, manager of college student purchase programs at Ford, Dearborn, Mich. “The one thing you can count on is that students will pick up the college paper at some point.”

Early last year, Ford-sponsored pre-screenings of 21 and The Forbidden Kingdom were advertised prominently in student papers. At the events, local representatives talked to students about the latest and greatest models.

“When you look at print media in general, of course, lots of companies are funneling money out of there and into digital,” Greene said. “But on a college campus, it’s a much better buy for an advertiser. Students are still engaged in the newspapers.”

More than half (55%) of students reported reading the student paper in the last week, and close to 30% reported reading every issue.

Among the wired generation, college newspapers “are a very tried and true media platform despite that fact that they are not sight, sound and motion, or any other digital application,” Skey said.

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