How Companies Are Advertising To College Students

Just how are the multi-national corps and startups targeting Generation Z Students?

College campuses have undergone a serious amount of change in the last 10 years or so.

Back in the noughties, laptops had made some improvement, but they weren’t as mobile or as user friendly as they are today. At that time, the main form of advertising online still came in the form of obtrusive pop-up boxes and inane banner ads, neither of which were particularly efficient.

In addition to that, companies had not yet learned how to effectively target unique demographics and mobile phones were only just being referred to as ‘smart phones’, however they were still anything but smart.

Cut to the present day and you can guarantee that a large majority of students in North America will not only have access to much better computers, but they’ll also be carrying mobile devices that are practically optimised for advertising.

These are the methods that Brands and Companies are using to step into the advertising space of thousands of students across America:


The ultimate procrastination tool for millions around the world, this social media platform is easily accessible through all forms of electronic device.

Whether it’s a surreptitiously opened browser window in the corner of a screen, or a tab left open on a phone browser, Facebook has become one of the easiest ways for students to get absolutely no work done.

Although the social media giant took a while to catch up with Google, in respects to its advertising functions, it now allows potential advertisers to target individual campuses, classes or even students themselves.

On-Site Promotion

Although technology may have stepped up the potential reach of brands and companies, there’s still a lot to be said for the old fashioned ways.

As much as social justice warriors have tried to rally against the use of the undressed female (or male) form in order to sell products, the practice is still widely used throughout college campuses as a valid method of advertising to college students.

Although clamp downs have been put on Alcohol brands, lest too many lackadaisical students drink a few too many samples; fast-food chains, web startups and small businesses a like still make use of cheap labour and attractive bodies to promote their products and services.

Online Influencers

What started out as a way to share photographs, thoughts or life events has now, inevitably, turned into one big advertising platform. 

For every niche, whether it’s Twitter, Instagram or traditional blogging, there is a community of dedicated content creators. These influencers are more than willing to accept payment, in return for the creation of unique content that has the potential of reaching thousands of students at the click of a button.

What might have started out as a hobby, for some of these ambitious individuals, has now become a career as they are now being approached by some of the biggest brands and companies in the world and demanding hundreds of pounds for a single Instagram post.

Discount Cards & Promotions

Of course, one of the quickest way to student’s hearts is the promise of free stuff or failing that, discounts.

This is one of the most popular forms of advertising and usually the most accepted on campuses around the country. When students first enrol at campus, they’re usually offered a free discount that offers them cut prices at restaurants, clothes stores and online retailers.

For many young people, simply happy to have their own income to dispense with as they please, this is a golden opportunity to spend some money.

Apple are one of the most prolific companies to have used this to their advantage, offering a 10% discount on all their products, inviting the next generation of architects, designers and managers to adopt their computers over their rival Windows.

My Brother and his Porsche

I never used to be the biggest fan of technology.

I know that seems a strange thing to say on a blog centred around electronics, but it’s true.

When I grew up in the 80s, it wasn’t exactly ‘cool’ to be into computers.

Star Trek, the sci-fi sensation that had got the world wondering about our bright collective futures, had ended 15 years ago and people had decided to relegate it to the past, along with an interest in space, technology and gadgets as a fad. The optimism and idealism that had fuelled the Moon Landings some 12 years or so back had been forgotten; replaced by a sense of dread and hopelessness.

It was this joyful world that I was born into. My father worked in an office, filing papers for an Insurance Broker, his role was a junior one that was shackled by the technological limitations that still gripped the rest of the world. I don’t suppose there’s a job title for what he really did – computers do all the filing now. I remember him being dimly aware of his waning usefulness, as if he knew that the job that he had dedicated a large portion of his waking life to, would soon be made obsolete.

My brother was under no illusion about this. When he’d grown old enough to start ‘piping up’, as my Father would call it, he would berate my Dad for being stuck in a dead end job with no skills, whilst the rest of the world learned about the wonders of the future that would see us gainfully employed in the 21st Century, driving floating Porsches. That’s the part that would rankle my Father the most and send him flying out the door on his way to three swiftly drained pints at The Lamb & Flag.

I couldn’t say that my brother’s portents were completely misplaced. He studied hard at school, focusing on the Sciences that would later usher him into the world of Information Technology, whereas I looked to follow my Father’s footsteps and enter into the world of Financial Administration.

Little did we know, that by the turn of the new century, we would all be typing and clicking on high-powered computers as if we were putting pen to paper. The floating Porsches haven’t quite arrived yet, I always tease him about this, when I see him. His answer to this running joke was buying a vintage Porsche for my Father on his 65th Birthday – a gift so extravagant and kindhearted that it could not be refused.

A few years after my Father passed away, my brother picked me up, on the way to Liverpool to take the car in. Tech-9 Porsche Servicing would be giving the car its annual look-over.

We drove down the M6, him opening up the engine a little too aggressive, me slightly gripping the sides of the car. I’d never quite got used to how low to the ground the vehicle sat and it unnerved me to know that the hard tarmac was whizzing just a few inches beneath me at over 80mph. He’d earned the money for it, a decade before, through working overseas for an American Electronics firm. On that trip, he persuaded me to make a lateral job move, away from the Civil Service and into the Private Technology sector.

My Father was a man that I admired very much – but in the end it was my brother’s example I had to follow to reach my goals.

How Electronics Helped Me Travel The World

The first time I used a computer I was 16 years old – now I travel the world working for start-ups.

My journey from tech-novice to gainfully employed graduate in the Electronics Industry is an unlikely one: unbelievable and bizarre.

It’s the story of a widowed Nigerian man seeing the opportunity and promise in further lands. It’s about his son (that’s me) grasping onto his Father’s dream – that they can overcome any obstacle presented to them. The road to success is never a straight and narrow one. To get to where I’ve got to today, I’ve had to toil long and hard, overcoming barriers both mental and social. I wouldn’t have been able to even attempt any of these challenges if it wasn’t for the gamble that my father  took almost 10 years ago.

Although there may well have been a promising future within the lands of Nigeria for my Father and I, the chances of us truly succeeding within a country so choked with poverty and religious conflict were slim. As he saw it, we had two options. We either stayed in Nigeria and moved to the more liberal South in order for me to get a semblance of a decent education, or we leave the country and find another life in the United Kingdom.

After my Mother passed away when I was very young, my Father had spent a decade striving to earn enough money to send me to a good school.

Unfortunately, times had been tough and we had both struggled. By the time we had scraped the money together to make our move I was 16 years old and I’d only been to school for a hundred days in total.

Thanks to my Father’s motivation and passion for my future, he ensured that I would always have pen and paper to hand. Those hundred days of school were repeated and repeated so many times that, before I left the country, my Mathematics skills were on par with any other teenager. My English, however, left a lot to be desired. Although Nigeria’s national language is English, there are still many pockets of communities that do not speak it. My Father grew up in rural Ningi and spoke the language of his local community, Ningawa. As a child brought up in both the countryside and the city, I formed a language of convenience.

The words and expressions that I would use would vary depending on the person that I was talking to.

If I was speaking to a kid my own age, I would use the opportunity to practice my pidgin English, breaking into patches of Hausa as and when I needed to. When I was at home, I spoke Ningawa with my Father. Living in an alien city, speaking our native tongue gave us comfort and cured our home sickness. Together we grafted enough money from the streets of Lagos to get our passports and tickets to England. We arrived in London, lost but overjoyed and desperately looking for a new start.

Flash forward a couple of years – after living with relatives around the city, my Father had found stable employment working on the Underground and I had successfully got myself through my A-Levels. How did I do it? Thanks to a 6 year old laptop my Father bought me on our first day in London. Money was tight but he insisted that my education should come first. Although I worked tirelessly in those years to catch up with my English and completely learn other compulsory subjects, I was never allowed to stay cooped up in my room. My Father literally had to force me out into the street on several occasions to meet friends and play football. I’m glad he did now.

I’ve still got that laptop now. It’s hopelessly outdated and just about serves the function of a word processor, but I would never throw it away.

It was the key to my education, allowing me to learn the Chemistry, Physics and Biology that is the backbone of my current work. Having graduated from University 8 years ago, I’ve spent the time since travelling and working in junior roles at Electrical Engineering startups, big corporations and factories. My story, as crazy as it sounds, has got me the interviews that I needed. My stunted start in life has ended up serving as the foot, firmly wedged into the door of every company that I’ve approached.

My next adventure? America. Some of the largest tech companies might well function out of Silicon Valley and Texas, but I’m hoping to find somewhere on the East Coast. Wall Industries specialise in the design and production of DC DC Power Converters and AC DC power supplies – they’re on the right side of the border to my adoptive town of England…

…and I’ve always been handy with a soldering iron.