Ads Must Act Fast To Engage College-Age Multitaskers !

If media were a meal, college students would never get through the appetizer course. This slice of the millennial population consumes media by scattering its attention among multiple devices and diversions at once.

Media and devices are ever-present for college students. A CourseSmart survey of college-enrolled owners of mobile devices, for example, showed that 93% owned a laptop, while 47% owned a smartphone.

Another survey, of college students ages 18 to 25, by marketing agency Mr Youth, found that 84% of respondents watched TV while simultaneously taking in content on two or more other devices—their laptop and their smartphone, for example.

So how does a brand that wants to serve up a good, hearty, engaging ad get college students’ attention? The simple answer is: be good and be quick.

Make your ads “entertaining, up front and on brand,” advised Nick Fuller, senior director of marketing at Mr Youth. College kids ages 18 to 25 respond well to video ads on any device, but they know you are trying to sell them something, so don’t try to disguise that intention, he said, drawing on survey results and a recent college-age panel discussion Mr Youth hosted at the OMMA Video West conference.

Describing this group as “practical-minded, driven by utility, looking for solutions from brands,” Fuller said: “If the brands are upfront with the clear intention about what they are trying to achieve with that consumer, that will only gain their respect.”

Because college-age youths are inundated with media, and because their attention is so fragmented, “to really resonate with this consumer specifically you have to grab them in 5 seconds or less,” said Christian Borges, Mr Youth’s vice president of marketing.

So what brand does it right? The panel consistently pointed to the Allstate “Mayhem” ads, which the college student demographic had often viewed on YouTube. The value to them? “The ads are highly entertaining,” Fuller said. Plus, the message is clear. “The entertainment is relevant and on-brand—they know the brand is trying to sell them insurance,” he added.


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