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.