Magazine article Artforum International

Ads Target Wired Students

Magazine article Artforum International

Ads Target Wired Students

Article excerpt

College students may annoy neighbors and whoever's in charge of forwarding mail at the post office, but those transient citizens are sweet gems for Internet marketers.

For one, they're wired. Jupiter Communications estimates 92 percent of the 12.5 million college students are online ( As a group, they control $120 billion in discretionary spending annually. Also, they're impressionable.

"Marketers pay special attention to this group because, when you leave your family for the first time, you're establishing a consumer household," says Raymond Sozzi, president and chief executive of Student Advantage. "Those loyalties and purchasing habits that you're starting to build could last a lifetime."

That's why American Express ( and Visa International ( go hog-wild when it comes to signing up students who'll do anything for a free T-shirt. The hope of building a long-term relationship is also why General Motors ( became a sponsor of CollegeClub (, a community site being acquired by Student Advantage. CollegeClub has about 2.9 million registered users at 3,600 college campuses.

Student Advantage is primarily a membership program that charges $20 per year and offers discounts from companies like Tower Records and Foot Locker. Many of the company's 2.1 million members also log into its student-centric portal ( and the numerous official college athletics sites the organization runs. Those sites offer additional advertising opportunities, Sozzi says.

The Boston company has particularly impressed its partners, Amtrak ( and The train company's national marketing director, Linda Park, describes the alliance with Student Advantage as "the most successful consumer-targeted marketing program" Amtrak has. The affinity program both companies created over the past five years now generates nearly 3 percent of Amtrak's annual passenger-related revenue., meanwhile, uses Student Advantage to brand itself through different marketing strategies, such as college newspaper advertising campaigns and sponsored campus events. takes a different approach; it sells national and local advertisements for 80 student-run campus Web sites. The company sees itself as the "single point of access for all advertisers for the college market," according to CEO Jack Crawford Jr. …

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