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Extra! Extra! Read All About It: College Students Addicted to their College Newspaper

New study finds college publications still rule on campus amid growing online activity and decline of national print audienc

Alloy Media + Marketing, one of the country’s largest providers of media and marketing programs reaching targeted consumer segments, today announced results from a recent College Newspaper Audience study, conducted in partnership with MORI Research. The report provides valuable data indicating college newspapers continue to reign as a top mass media choice among today’s matriculating college students and serve as a reliable source for those seeking campus news, entertainment and shopping information. As mainstream and national newspaper readerships continue to suffer declines, particularly among the coveted millennial demographic where daily Facebook checks have become as commonplace as an over-caffeinated all-nighter during final exams, the print college newspaper remains a vital part of student life on the quad. The study surveyed over 1200 college students from 550 universities across 50 states capturing students’ reading habits and preferences as well as revealing data on students’ behaviors and attitudes towards advertising within the campus paper. The study also surveyed faculty and staff members from over 200 universities, providing useful information on reaching another unique demographic across the campus environment.

A Must Read

The college newspaper is clearly an integral part of a student’s life on the quad. The study shows that over three-quarters (76%) of college students have read their college newspaper in the past month, with that figure rising to an impressive 92% for those campus papers that publish on a daily basis.

Looking at the last three months, a considerable 82% report reading their campus newspaper. Further, more than half of students (55%) reported they’ve read their paper in the last week. And of those readers, considerably more than half state they’re reading at least 3 issues a week, with close to 30% reading every issue. Though Internet usage among college students continues to gain strength, it appears the traditional print edition still garners the most eyeballs, with just less than 20% stating they access their campus newspaper online in the past 30 days.

While it was reported that just over one-third of students read their local, daily newspaper on a weekly basis, the figure fails in comparison to the 79% of students who reported engaging with their daily campus newspaper in the past 7 days.

Common within the walls of academia is the sight of students’ heads buried behind the pages, with 53% of students citing they read the paper while on campus and another 29% enjoying it at home. Pass along rates are strong as well, with an average of 3.2 students sharing an issue.

“Thecollege newspaper continues to hold its value with students as a key source for news and information and despite growth in technology and new media options, we consistently mark very strong audiences who rely on this source to maintain a connection to their campus community and local happenings,” said Samantha Skey, EVP Strategic Marketing, Alloy Media + Marketing.

“For marketers hoping to connect with this demographic – a group whose spending power and influence show significant gains year over year – the study verifies the campus paper remains a strong component in effectively surrounding college students across all the relevant platforms that make up their daily experience on campus."

Now Look At That

The study also reveals the college newspaper stands out as students’ choice for a wide range of information, including where they seek out advertising information. In fact, close to three-quarters (73%) of readers say they look at the advertisements in their college paper.

While campus news is top of mind, with 90% of those surveyed stating it’s important to find out what’s happening within the campus environs, 44% state that campus newspaper advertising is also information they read and seek out. Entertainment related news, sports and current affairs also rank as top areas of interest for students.

Make Me an Offer

It should come as no surprise that thrifty college students love a good bargain and will seek out a deal. More than three-quarters of students (78%) report using coupons or promotional codes, showing particular popularity across the female student body. Most popular coupon categories and reported redemption? Food, including restaurants, and clothing categories came out on top with big box stores close behind.

And it seems that advertising and editorial content in the campus paper has significant impact on students’ actions. While Alloy’s “2007 College Explorer” survey revealed that few college students (13%) avoid advertising in their campus newspaper, this study went further to find out if they also read and act on the ads found in the pages. When asked what they have done as result of reading an ad or article in the paper, almost 80% reported reacting in some way.

Word of mouth, consistently a strong driver of message sharing within this group, comes out with 61% “telling a friend” about something they saw. Over half (55%) attended an event as a result of something they read, over 40% saved an article or ad for future reference and 36% continued to research products or services online after reading it in print. Also significant, 1 in 5 decided to call or visit a retail store in response to an offer.

Skey continued, “What these findings offer is valuable insight on how to affect this consumer group. Offer them something that provides value, engage them in a way that enhances their campus experience and you have the opportunity to create a positive connection with collegiate consumers and the potential to generate a relationship way past graduation day.”

Don’t Forget Them

The survey went a step further, offering a compelling view of the college newspaper audience beyond the student market and found that faculty and staff members are avid readers of the campus paper on par with the undergrads and strong reactors to digested information.

Over three-quarters (76%) of faculty members have read their publication in the last month, with over half (51%) reading it in the last week.

Like their students, campus news ranks high in importance for what they look for from their paper (92%). 63% state they look at the paper’s advertising content, almost half (47%) rated advertising important to the paper’s content and 79% report they have taken some type of action following reading an ad or article in the paper.

In line with the younger readers, 61% attended an event they read about and 56% passed information along to a friend Forty-four percent saved information for future use, while 28% followed up with a call or visit to a retail store and 25% continued to research a product or service online. Nearly 1 in 5 purchased a product or service they read about.

With 9 out of 10 faculty members surveyed reporting they use coupons and 88% stating they have redeemed one across a variety of retail locations, this group is out for a good deal as well and include the student newspaper as a source for seeking these types of promotional offers.

“Marketers can look to the campus newspaper with a much broader view and appeal to an important audience beyond the student body. Faculty members also want to feel a sense of community and connection and the findings reveal their affinity to their campus publication and experience that mirrors that of the student body,” said Skey.

“Interestingly, the study supports other recent findings gathered on the strength of the campus print publication and while technology advances across the quad, what hasn’t declined is the role the campus paper holds and the value it can offer both students, faculty members and the groups trying to forge a connection with them.”

About Alloy Media + Marketing

Alloy Media + Marketing (AM+M) (Nasdaq: ALOY) is one of the country’s largest providers of media and marketing programs reaching targeted consumer segments. Alloy manages a diverse array of assets and services in interactive, display, direct mail, content production and educational programming. Alloy works with over 1,500 companies including half of the Fortune 200. For further information regarding Alloy, please visit our corporate website at www.alloymarketing.com.

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