TV Advertising To Students Most Effective; Email Best Reach

According to a proprietary 2012 College Marketing Report from the Barnes & Noble College Marketing Division, despite the prevalence of social media and Internet usage, college students still consider TV ads the most effective form of advertising. They prefer to receive emails over texts from marketers; their engagement with brands on Facebook tops all other social networks; and most are very open to direct brand engagement, including supporting on-campus ambassador programs, says the report.

Based on a survey of more than 7,500 college students from campuses across the nation, the study was able to glean an understanding of today's college student that marketers might utilize to connect students with brands, products and services that enhance their social and academic experience.

Best Way To Reach College Students by Company or Brand (% of Respondents)


% of Respondents



TV commercial




Facebook ad


On-campus WOM


Social coupon


Print ad


Website ad


Radio commercial


Texting campaign


Source: Barnes & Noble College Marketing, September 2012

Significant findings from the 2012 College Marketing Report include:

  • Although Internet and social media usage is strong among college students, 42% still say TV ads are the most effective form of advertising
  • 65% of college students engage with brands via social media at least weekly, primarily on Facebook, and a third do so at least three times a day. However, 55% do not think Facebook is a good place for brands to advertise to them
  • Students are most motivated by brand loyalty as a key driver of social engagement (26%), but also love a good coupon offer (26%) or fun contest (19%)
  • 61percent do not believe a text message campaign is a good way for a brand to connect with them. Further, 58% of students view the majority of their emails on their laptops
  • 59% of respondents say friends have the biggest influence on their purchasing decisions, both online and off
  • 63% of students never scan QR codes located on ads 
  • 68% of college students would be interested in becoming an on-campus student brand ambassador, while half of students would like brand ambassadors to help during move-in
  • 70% of students say they're more likely to buy from a brand that supports a charitable cause and 63% are willing to spend more on products tied to a charity

Lisa Malat, Barnes & Noble College's VP, Marketing & Operations, concludes that "... understanding student attitudes and preferences is paramount to... delivering a shopping experience that enhances their overall college experience... "

For additional information about the study and BNCM, please visit here.




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