The ads direct students to 21stCenturyLit.com, which features excerpts from new Knopf titles, reading groups, bestseller lists, podcasts of authors reading from their own works, and a list Knopf events around the nation organized by Y2M. The site is also soliciting book reviews from students, the best of which it will post online and reward with free Knopf titles.
Y2M provides content management systems to student newspaper sites at no cost in exchange for space to serve ads from its 100-odd ad partners, including Amazon, Apple, Ford Motor Company, Goldman Sachs, and Samsung Electronics. Knopf is Y2M's first and only publisher advertiser, according to Dina Pradel, Y2M vice president and general manager.
Beyond its relationship with Y2M, Knopf is currently involved in a number of online marketing initiatives, said Scott DiPerna, manager of special marketing at Knopf. "We've been generating independent sites for authors for a long time, and more recently have worked with authors who aren't particularly well known to create MySpace profiles."
Before Knopf agreed to market its wares over Y2M's college network, they conducted joint research to learn more about student's reading and book-buying habits.
Ninety-seven percent of college students within Y2M's network reported reading at least one to two books outside the scope of their courses each semester. In addition, 79 percent reported buying new books at bookstores and another 44 percent saying they buy new titles from online vendors.
"We found a greater level of sophistication and interest in reading than expected," remarked DiPerna. "That means we should be paying more attention to this demographic."