When you rush to your mobile after hearing that familiar message tone, you definitely don’t expect an advertisement nicely perched in your inbox, an uninvited guest. More and more college students are falling prey to the unwanted marketing messages. Social media marketers are sure to hit upon some target when they focus on the college students.
A Ball State University study of a primarily female group of college students found that a majority of them had seen ads on their phones, including 51.2% of smartphone or touchscreen phone users and 61.3% of feature-phone users. Text ads were most prevalent. Their reactions to ads were highly negative. More than 40% were annoyed to get an ad, compared with just 1.2% who were pleased and 17.6% who were neutral. Even more dramatic, nearly three in 10 said they were less likely to purchase a product after seeing a mobile ad for it. Slightly fewer reported their purchase intent was unchanged, but only a small number said mobile ads encouraged them to purchase.
A substantial minority of respondents (44.3%) would not be induced to receive mobile ads under any circumstances, but 37% were willing to accept them for something free in return. Free ringtones and music were the most popular exchange. In addition, almost two-thirds of all respondents said ads would be OK if they got paid to see them, and the largest segment of that group wanted at least $1 in return for each ad viewed.
College students are an attractive target for mobile marketers who know their audience is always on. Non-advertising marketing efforts like sponsored or branded apps may be seen as less intrusive or inappropriate, though about only half of the group has smartphones so far.