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Advertising to students: the key campus channels you need to know about

At native, we talk a lot about campus media. After all, we’re proud to unite media channels across 70 UK university campuses, opening the dialogue between brands (like yours) and students. But when we say “campus media”, what exactly do we mean? Here’s a breakdown. 

Channels that drive awareness

According to native’s own research, students spend about 10.6 hours online per day. From studying to socialising, there are plenty of digital destinations that they’re checking out during this time – a big one being their Students’ Union website. 

Nearly every UK university has a Students’ Union – they are powerful, motivated organisations that represent the interests and needs of their students. Although each one is different, most Students’ Unions are responsible for clubs and societies, on-campus facilities, and providing guidance and advice to students throughout their time at university. They’re a cornerstone of student life. 

It should come as no surprise that Students’ Unions come with their own media channels, spanning physical and digital areas of campus. For example, 68% of students regularly visit their Students’ Union website – a central hub to get information, book facilities and get involved in topical university campaigns. Many of our advertiser partners – like Deliveroo, Get Into Teaching and UNITE Students – have made a first impression on students via display adverts on Students’ Union websites. 

Over on campus (where students typically spend 16.3 hours per week), there are other ways to generate awareness. Students’ Union buildings often attract heavy footfall – and are equipped with digital screens and poster points. A savvy awareness campaign would make use of both digital and OOH advertising, connecting with students both online and on-campus.

Channels that encourage consideration and conversion

The consideration stage of the funnel can be quite murky – but there’s a lot of specific wins that can come once a student is aware of your brand, but before they end up committing to that purchase. Consideration might look like increased and consistent engagement on social media, for example. Or it could come in the form of traffic from online and offline platforms to your app or website.

Remember earlier, when we mentioned that students spend an average of 10.6 hours per day? Well, 4.8 of those are spent on social media. The most popular platform for students is TikTok – most likely due to the influx of Gen Zs arriving on campus – and this is closely followed by Twitter. 

What’s more, students expect to see brands on social media. 81% follow brands on social media, with one in three actively using it to discover new brands. If you’re looking to nurture students in a way that they’re receptive to, social media ads – as well as organic activity on Students’ Union channels – is a great way to do it. Success in this area could look like a follower spike, or engagement on a specific ad or post. 

Beyond being present on social, it’s also a good idea to drop your name into students’ inboxes. As long as you’re adding genuine value, student audiences are receptive to email marketing. Our research shows that offering a sign-up discount or including discounts and offers within the email itself are the two most common reasons why students sign up to brand mailing lists. 

Of course, it’s important to keep consideration alive with some IRL touchpoints, too. As the marketing rule of 7 tells us, a prospect needs to hear from you at least 7 times before they commit to buying your product or signing up for your service. native has worked closely with a number of advertisers to keep dialogues open with flyering campaigns, capturing the attention of students as they move through campus. Sampling, too, works particularly well on campus – Especially if you’re looking to introduce yourselves to students for the first time, or launch a new product or flavour to increase your share of the student market. 80% of 25-34-year-old students have bought something after sampling it on campus, after all.

Channels that inspire loyalty and action

There are many things that make the student audience unique: they are at a pivotal time in their lives, which means they’re more receptive to new ideas, experiences and products. The entire demographic refreshes every year with the arrival of a new cohort of students. And the student community is built around sector-specific events that bring everyone together throughout the year. 

The biggest of these events is, of course, Freshers. As well as collating clubs, societies, sports teams and other uni activities in one place, Freshers is a place where advertisers can make a first impression, too. According to total merchandise, 80% of students spend with brands that they discover at a Freshers event. 

Part of marketing to students is undoubtedly becoming part of the narrative – whether that looks like a stall at a Freshers fair supported with digital media, sponsoring a headline event, or a bespoke experiential campaign. It’s a unique time and a receptive demographic – which means you can afford to pull out all of the stops. 

At native, we have exclusive long-term media partnerships with 70 campuses across the UK. We work with advertisers to create omnichannel campaigns that reach and resonate with students. Get in touch to book your media today.