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Why Brands Should Engage College Students Using Native Ads on Mobile

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Native mobile advertising is an ideal way to get your marketing messages to college students that are shutting out everything else.

It is harder than ever to get consumers ages 18 to 24 to view and interact with traditional advertising. According to Nielsen’s most recent audience report, “In the past 5 years, almost 40% of this age group’s traditional TV viewing time has migrated to other activities or streaming.” Nielsen Scarborough data also shows that only 16% of 18 to 24 year olds read daily newspapers.

Additionally, they are turning a blind eye to traditional banners and are among the most enthusiastic users of ad blockers on both desktop and mobile devices.

To deal with this demographics’s avoidance of traditional advertising, native mobile advertising and sponsored content have become the go-to methods for influencing student consumers.

Defining Native Advertising and Sponsored Content

Native advertising is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience (UX). Native ads match the visual design of the UX so they look and feel like natural content. Native ads on mobile work especially well as they follow the natural flow of scrolling on a smartphone.

Think of a sponsored content post appearing in your Facebook timeline, or a story of sponsored content appearing on a news site such as CNN. The story is designed and written to appear similar to the creative style of the site, although they are clearly marked as sponsored content. Because this sponsored content looks like it belongs on the site in terms of design and format, it is called native. In contrast to banners, native ads offer content to enhance, rather than lessen, the experience.

Native advertising might appear in maps, games, or alongside a paid search. Syndicators such as Outbrain and Taboola might recommend content widgets, the thumbnails of story images and headlines that appear at the bottom of content websites that take you to other sites to read the content. This is a vehicle marketers use to distribute their sponsored content to reach consumers who will be attracted to the image or headline.

The Research Says Native Ads Work

A recent study from IPG Labs, “Storytelling: The Current State of Branded Content, illustrates the effectiveness of native ads:

Ad recall improved by nearly 60%, boosting brand recognition throughout the sales funnel.

Consumers’ desire to buy the brands in question rose by 9% versus using banners, because native advertising is more about educating the consumer than selling.

Consumers ages 18 to 34 responded better to long articles, driving higher engagement consideration rates and aiding recall.

Branded native content is twice as effective today as it was in 2013.

Most importantly, IPG Labs found that it doesn’t matter which device consumers use to view native advertisements. Consumers are just as willing to read a long piece of sponsored content on their smartphones as they are on a desktop. Given that college students favor their phones, native mobile advertising provides a clear path to this affinity group.

Help Students Make Buying Decisions

What exactly do college students use their smartphones for while shopping?

– To ask questions about specific products

– To locate where they can make a purchase

– To receive a special coupon or discount

Students can find these answers through native ads as they research on mobile. Native ads are a win-win for everyone because they align the objectives of the consumer, the site publisher, and advertisers.

Overall, native mobile advertising delivers better brand engagement for college students. Marketers relying on traditional advertisements should explore how mobile ads can improve their strategies.

ID.me surveyed its student users to learn more about what influences their buying decisions. Find out what we found in this infographic.