Reaching college students in style

Marketers interested in MySpace advertising but worried about being associated with negative image.

The potential buying power of the 17- to 24-year-old demographic would have just about any advertiser vying for their attention. But there is a downside to advertising on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, where advertisers don't really know what kind of images and content their ad miight associated with, reports Tech News

"It depends on the advertiser and what their goals are," Dina Pradel, general manager of Y2M, a Boston-based marketing agency specializing in reaching college students and recent graduates. There are some who are very careful about their brand and they prefer to be in a well-lit neighborhood, like a college newspaper site. They want to make sure they're not going to appear next to photos and a narrative about last night's kegger. Others are more edgy and might not mind the association with a social site."

To target young consumers who might not have firm "brand affintiy" is a perfect marketing opportunity, and there is no better place to find that audience these days than on social networking sites. Marketing firms reccommend being choosy about the sites where a company advertises by being sure that the product is appropriate for the audience.

Pradel says that college newspapers and alumni websites are excellent choices for advertisers who want to avoid the pitfalls of social networking sites while still marketing to a younger crowd.

Yankee Group analyst Nitin Gupta said social networking sites are a great way to create a buzz for products like music, TV and movies. But it is a fickle market, with students willing to change to a new site when a hipper alternative comes along.

"The college market is pretty easy to reach and if the message and the medium match, it can be a powerful combination," said Pradel.

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