Media Analysis: Educational Experience

Marketing, September 2, 2004 | Go to article overview

Media Analysis: Educational Experience


Brands trying to target students must consider both dedicated media and mass channels. Andy Fry reports.

It's September, and a wave of fresh recruits is about to hit Britain's colleges and universities. Two million people are going through higher education, a third of the UK's entire 18- to 24-year-old population. And the government wants to push that figure up to 50%.

In other words, students represent a huge slice of the youth market.

Anyone who overlooks them is missing out on a group that spends pounds 13bn a year. And imagine their spending potential when they get jobs.

As Vizeum chief strategy officer Malcolm Hunter points out: 'Students are much more part of mainstream youth culture than they used to be. If anything, the work and study distinction is less important than the difference between people who stay at home and people who leave home, since the latter are more likely to change their behaviour.'

So if students are just 18- to 24-year-olds who don't have to tidy their rooms, can't clients catch them with a standard 16-24 schedule: Hollyoaks, breakfast radio, MTV, a couple of broadsheets, The Sun and Heat? Perhaps, says Peter Miles, managing director of SUBtv, a TV network that pipes content into Student Union bars. 'But traditional media are expensive because of the wastage. By the start of the academic year, SUBtv will have a weekly reach of 1.4m students - that's 70% of everyone in higher education and 28% of 18-24s. Zero wastage.'

Local relevance

It's not just the focus on youth that makes SUBtv stand out, says Miles.

'We can feed locally relevant information into Student Union bars. Editorially, for example, we can schedule sport for when college teams come back from games on Wednesday night and put up a ticker tape of other college scores.'

'From an advertiser perspective, we can air news about local promotions or offer a national sell,' he adds.

This latter point is important, says Miles, as student media have historically been fragmented. 'By offering a co-ordinated medium, we're starting to see clients such as COI, Vodafone, Lynx and Barclays advertise on SUBtv,' he says. 'We also ran a promotion with Carling that got students to text a number onscreen to claim a free pint. The beauty is that the results are easily trackable.'

SUBtv is not alone in the student market. Street furniture company Adshel's Rockbox subsidiary has exclusive six-sheet rights in 242 Student Unions, while Boomerang Media has postcard racks in 300 colleges.

For companies wanting to go beyond the Student Union building, Campus Vision founder Paul Slaughter is installing billboard-style plasma screens campus-wide. Like Miles, he is keen to emphasise the ability to offer a national medium combined with information that is directly relevant to students.

But it isn't just about accurate targeting, says Hunter. 'Opinions travel fast among students, so brands need to adopt the right tone.'

This can be something simple, such as Disney making Finding Nemo more appealing to students by creating poster straplines such as 'Ocean's 11' for campus posters, or more complex, such as producing a dedicated newspaper - The Guardian's weekly student edition has a print run of 75,000. …

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