Advertising for the Student Population

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#1 BenignDesign  Icon User is offline

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Advertising for the Student Population

Posted 03 December 2012 - 08:34 AM

Hello, college guys and gals! I need to pick your brains for some insight into your age group... because apparently somewhere along the line I shriveled up and fell out of the young and hip category.

I was in a marketing meeting with my boss and our public relations person this morning and the question was posed: How do we adequately and successfully market to the college-age demographic?

I was assigned the task of finding out.

So my questions for you are as follows:

1. How/where do you consume most of your advertising? Online? Television? Strategic product placement in movies? YouTube videos?

2. What types of ads appeal to you? To see an ad for a college or university, what would make you want to click the link or type in the URL or schedule a campus visit?

3. Can you show me examples of ads that you think would appeal to the general college age group? Doesn't matter if it's a scanned print ad, an online ad, a television commercial... show me the magic formula so my boss will like me and praise me and let me keep my job. :D

Thanks in advance for any and all replies!

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#2 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advertising for the Student Population

Posted 03 December 2012 - 11:43 AM

*
POPULAR

I'm not necessarily college age anymore. But my girlfriend just graduated college, and we consume our media relatively the same way.

1)
I avoid advertising like the plague... it's bombarding me constantly, so their are sub-conscious actions I take to avoid it. I don't watch television much, if I do it's DVR'd so I can fast forward through commercials. Hulu and youtube are the shit because the commercials tend to be short or skippable if they don't peek my interest. And I can cater my ads (select interested on them so at least what ads I see are relevant to me).

My girlfriend and I make a game out of movie and tv show product placement. We mock it and find it tacky, but you could say that because we're doing this the ads are actually working. Well at least working in that we receive the msg... what we do with the message is something else.

Facebook and Google ads are my personal fav. They're non-obtrusive, relevant, and I know where to look for them if I'm interested. I have occasionally found myself going "oh, yeah... that looks interesting". I've NEVER clicked on them though. I've instead seen ads there, then went to google and googled more about it. The product/company website being the primary place I'd go to gather information.



2)
In the end, advertising IMO works best on me when it's just a reminder of what products might exist. I don't need tons of info or anything, only that they exist and the basic idea of what it is. I'll go and dig up all the gritty info on my own.

So your ad should be clean and to the point. A little pizzaz to grab my attention is fine, but to many "bang booms" and I think you're trying to con me. Don't go into how you'll change my life, I'll decide that myself. Just tell me what you are, what you do, and your NAME.

Now backside of your advertising. Give me a place to seek out your information. Make it easily accessible, and full of well organized info. Again, be honest with me, don't treat me like a retard giving me bullet point buzz words. I want data... I'm here on your website looking for facts, so give em' to me damn it!

Your site should make sense. You're a school so this is super important. DO NOT LET YOUR STUDENTS MAKE YOUR SITE. So many schools do this, they have their students and novices make the site (on the free) and it's the worst thing ever. I don't know wtf it is about schools, but their websites are HORRIBLE. Every bad web design idea implemented, confusing website maps, and slow as malasses in alaska.

Like srsly, I'ma rip on some school websites now for a bit (and give bad examples as well)

FAU website:
http://www.fau.edu/

go there, first now just start going to different webpages and see how that shit looks different on each page. Why? Why is this? Why can't they state consistent?

Next try to find something. How about trying to locate info about the math department. I want to know who the dean is, or what programs they offer, some info about how they stand in the national stage of math programs (actually really good). I bet you'll end up having to go to 3 completely different places to get all this information about the math dept. Administration for the dean, tours for the programs available (which is only a short list, and half wrong), call to set up a meeting to get an indepth explanation of the programs, and google around the web to get word of mouth testimony on forums to get a vague idea of the school's standing.

PBSC (palm beach state college) is no different:
http://www.palmbeachstate.edu/

Though I've noticed they've cleaned their shit up a bit. That website used to be HORRENDOUS. I'm talking like full on retard up in that shit.

But either way, even if they've cleaned up, just notice how much is going on there. Shit is just confusing as all hell to look at.

What are these ads on the front page? Who are they for? We have a slap dash of ads for the community, for prospective students, for current students, and no way to tell which is which. "FAUPlate"... ok... what's that? And why is it just above a donate to FAU ad? You've just advertised to a current student and a community member in a 50x50 pixel space. UGH.


Here's the thing about colleges and their websites. They don't consider who visits their websites. There are 3 people that visit a college website primarily.

prospective students - this actually is only a small portion of visitors, but still important. Your site should display what they'll learn there. And a website slapped together and hard to get around and not having a section that really lets me find out what you have to offer me leads me to believe your school doesn't have anything to offer me. If you can't make a freakin' website, what makes me think you can teach me anything?

current students - most of the schools have these sections, but they're usually the most hobbled together part of the entire schpeel. FAU has 4 different portals you must use to do various things at school. You have to create logins for each, and some only work with your school e-mail (supplied by gmail, but can only be logged in through the school interface, the portal of which is located elsewhere from the main current student portal). And don't even get me on their other portal/website for signing up for classes which again uses yet another login.

staff - I have no idea what this stuff is like for staff. But I could only imagine.


I go to these websites and they look like they're trying to sell themselves to the community or something. "Look at what we do, we're a learning establishment, you want us in your community... what? What's that grungy back door over there? Oh that's the entry way for our students... yeah, they're a bunch of whiners... quit your bitching, be happy we even put a door in for you."





As for examples of what works. Srsly, I hate to admit it, Newegg's advertising techniques work on me. And their website, though flawed in some ways (especially if you are looking for consumer grade product, their oem and technical products have awesome browsing interfaces), but they do something right... they get me coming back all the time.

Ignore their graphics though... ugh, that shit is crap.

This post has been edited by lordofduct: 03 December 2012 - 11:48 AM

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#3 BenignDesign  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advertising for the Student Population

Posted 03 December 2012 - 12:10 PM

Thank you! That is exactly the kind of information I'm looking for!

If I PM you our URL will you give me an honest, blunt opinion/critique? What works for you? What confuses you? WTF moments? Even just of the front page? This is the kind of information I need to get through to my boss.

<edit>
Feel like some skeevy, door-to-door salesman with that last bit. Nevermind. Just keep the general scathing coming, kids!
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#4 BetaWar  Icon User is online

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Re: Advertising for the Student Population

Posted 03 December 2012 - 12:17 PM

1. I "see" the most ads online, but I don't actually pay attention to any of them. If they look like an ad I ignore them (this likely causes me to miss some things which aren't ads). However, I actually see and listen to a lot of TV ads when watching live TV (otherwise I just skip over them). Now, what actually gets me most interested is print media ads. While this sounds odd, I find that most of the time I am actually willing to read at least a little of the printed ad whereas I would have scrolled passed it on the web (this may also have something to do with me sitting outside of a classroom waiting for my classes to start and having an ad bulletin board directly across from me Monday - Thursday). Most of the time, if an ad has a catchy, semi-descriptive title (though not a huge title, those get annoying to read) I will read on; otherwise I just glance past it. The other main place I get ads is in Pandora, though I typically just mute the computer and wait a little while so it goes away :)/>

2. Well, print ads are more appealing. I don't have to worry about missing some fine print because it was only in the commercial for 1 frame and written in such a pixelated font that I had no hopes of reading it even if it was there the entire time (though they could still have horribly pixelated fonts I suppose). And of course ads with sexy women always help; but that's just because I am a guy. Typically, if I am interested in a product I will search out the ads and not wait for them to come to me.

3. Hm, well I remember liking this commercial (for the Surface): http://www.youtube.c...h?v=dpzu3HM2CIo (the only version I could find). I also loved this commercial at the time (Halo 2 annoucement) http://www.youtube.c...h?v=iEfXs1ZSdRE and this is great http://www.youtube.c...h?v=Jvvn68g-TDU (Skyrim live action commercial -- though I saw it after I purchased the game, so it wasn't the most effective).

Oh, and since we are posting horrible school websites: http://colorado.edu Just try to find anything useful there (like the CS curriculum requirements for students starting school in 2009). You will find it quicker and with less hassle by using google.
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#5 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advertising for the Student Population

Posted 03 December 2012 - 12:31 PM

Please, show us your site.
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#6 BenignDesign  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advertising for the Student Population

Posted 03 December 2012 - 12:39 PM

Best I can do is a screen cap. Due to certain restrictions at work, I can't publicly post the URL (read: they use Google Alerts to track every time I post anything about them by name or URL... then I get called into meetings and reminded that I'm being watched, and so on and so forth, etc, etc).

Here's a screen shot of our CURRENT LIVE SITE -
(school name + dot edu to see it in action):
Spoiler


And the soon-to-be-completed development site
(can't see it in action, internal server):
Spoiler


And be seriously blunt and honest. Smack my ass and call me a bitch. Tear it apart and make me cry. For real. Everything has been built to what my boss likes... not to what our target audience likes. We need to change that... and I don't know what other people like if they don't tell me.
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#7 modi123_1  Icon User is online

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Re: Advertising for the Student Population

Posted 03 December 2012 - 12:59 PM

The dark gray text on a gray bar on the right - ewww..
the drop shadow around the main text is too bid... it also runs contrary to the drop shadow on the orange 'free summer meals' bit.

The top black bit of the black to green to blue to green to black is too big.. and not proportional to the bottom one.

The new font's not bad.

The use of mini icons are not a bad idea either.

You need more diversity on your banner image. That loose package of saltines is just sad. Feathers and goatees, or not.
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#8 BenignDesign  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advertising for the Student Population

Posted 03 December 2012 - 01:08 PM

View Postmodi123_1, on 03 December 2012 - 02:59 PM, said:

You need more diversity on your banner image. That loose package of saltines is just sad. Feathers and goatees, or not.


haha! The banner image is selected at random from a folder every time the page loads. There is quite a bit of diversity... just not in that specific group of students.

I know you prefer honey grahams and wheat thins to saltines and club crackers. :)
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#9 BetaWar  Icon User is online

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Re: Advertising for the Student Population

Posted 03 December 2012 - 01:48 PM

The light blue bar with the "You are here" text: It appears out of place. I don't see that color being used anywhere else, and it isn't a gradient (which is prevalent in the rest of the design). I would personally suggest removing the background and possibly adding a bottom (light grey, possible #999) border to it if you deem the separation necessary.

The large orange free meal doesn't really fit in with the rest of the design from my perspective. The colors are way off from everything else found on the page, and it captures basically all of the attention; like a black hole in the center of the page (my eyes always return to that since it is the only warm color to be found). That is probably not what you are looking for. I would also suggest adding an indicator as to what slide you are currently on and how many there are in total since the arrow images are rather small and disjoint from the slide show; it would help people realize the functionality which is present.

Regarding the black to blue to black separator under the slide show. I would suggest having it span the entire width of the content section instead of having the 20pxish margin. I believe that may look better as a separator that way.

The padding between the first and third column below that don't look the same (or the image on the first column is slightly bigger than that in the third). I would also add the standard padding to the center where it is saying "No events".

As far as borders go (such as those separating the columns) I would suggest lightening them to something along the line of #999 since that wouldn't be as harsh of a separation.

The grey bar. I enjoy the small icons that accompany the links, and would actually suggest removing the link text and having a tooltip (such as qtip) to display the respective text on mouse-over. This would allow you to have more room for the main content. I would also suggest that you make all the images a standard size (width and height), for instance the community images appear to be all over the board. This throws off the continuity of the sidebar. Regarding the find us online images, I would suggest reducing their size. I hate to tell you this, but more universities aren't going to get their student base to be actively seeking out their social media aspects. I have yet to do anything regarding that from my school's website, and really don't care if the chancellor tweets what he is raising tuition for (the point if tuition is still going up and my income isn't). As far as the background color goes, the grey doesn't fit in with the site as it appears to be lighter than the gradient running behind it. I would suggest changing the background color. The HRs just need to go in my opinion, it is a lot of wasted space between each link and doesn't really add anything of value.

The banner image (under the navbar): It has a hard break between the blue semi-circle and the student image which I am not sure I understand the use of. Personally I believe that the header, and navbar are large as is, taking up an additional 150pxish for a student image really should be part of the slideshow and not a separate section of the header. The resources links could be moved to the navbar in a dropdown menu and work without much problem (only requiring slightly more mouse movement). At that point the need for that entire section has been removed and it can be taken out of the design.

The "Garrett College" text is rather large, especially when considering that you have the logo right next to it that re-iterates the same information (and more). I would personally suggest taking the "GC" out of the logo, and then removing the logo image, place the "GC" there and have Garrett College with Experience. Explore. Excel. written in a smaller size under the Garrett College text (ensure that the two texts are the same width and it will look fairly professional, I think). Then you should be able to reduce the header size a bit to make it look cleaner.

Regarding the drop shadows: I would suggest removing the one from the big orange slide image completely, otherwise it looks like it is above the slideshow controls and doesn't fit as well in the space (more like a floating ad which people will ignore). As for the main drop shadow, I would suggest moving it from the left to the right and reducing the offset (as modi suggested). I would also attempt to enforce a standard if people are going to use a drop shadow that they are always on the same angle and offset.

Now, I understand that this is pretty rough on the design. Here is what I believe has been done well since the last iteration:
1. The navbar overhaul was nice. The border on the previous one was too large and unsightly. Also expanding it to take the entire width of the page is a good idea.
2. Reducing the random image size is nice, I just believe it needs to go a bit further.
3. Adding the search bar to the top will (if your site is anything like my college's) make finding things far easier.
4. Removing the ad banners across the right side. Yes, I understand that they aren't ads, but they definitely come across that way. I wouldn't even give them a second glance if I was attempting to find something in there.
5. Removing the redundant "Experience. Explore. Excel." that was under the left sidebar.
6. Removing one of the sidebars completely.

Overall I definitely believe that the new design is a large step in the right direction. It just needs a few tune-ups and I think it would be quite the site.
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#10 BenignDesign  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advertising for the Student Population

Posted 03 December 2012 - 01:57 PM

Wow. Heavy critique there. Awesome! Thank you!!


Now, however, the thread really isn't supposed to be about web design - it's supposed to be about advertising geared toward students (curse you, LoD and your charismatic derailing!
:wub: ).

Back to the actual topic: Completely disregarding the web site, how do we best advertise to traditional college-aged students?
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#11 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advertising for the Student Population

Posted 03 December 2012 - 02:17 PM

Why is it schools always use up like 500 vertical pixels on their school name alone?

Check Amazon, Newegg, ebay, etc. They use very little vertical space to display their own name across the top. And then get right into what it is they're serving up.

Even art related sites (which have different design rules from commerce sites), like nin.com, or deviantArt.com




As for the rest... the site essentially looks like every other school's layout. I don't know who invented it, but my lordy.

What my question is, what is it the main page is supposed to do? I'm going to say something that all the dev guys in my office laugh at me every time I say it.

"What is the user experience supposed to feel like?"

"heh, heh, user experience, look at Dylan, thinking he's all fancy and saying user experience."

"What? Is this why our product sucks? I think this is why our product sucks."

Anyways, what is it supposed to be? Because that main page, and the main page of every school website I've been to, has no consistent experience. It's schizophrenic at best.





[edit]
So, sorry, yeah, I did derail this didn't I.

Let's see, let's see, what can I say about that.

This post has been edited by lordofduct: 03 December 2012 - 02:17 PM

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#12 AnalyticLunatic  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advertising for the Student Population

Posted 03 December 2012 - 02:17 PM

Advertising to today's typical college-age demographic can vary from person to person. Digital is a cheap and easy means of communicating, but, as pointed out previously, digital media is very easy to overlook or disregard in relation to the task at hand.

Being a Young Gun of 21 years who has always cared greatly about his education, I can safely say that I have always enjoyed printed advertising. If I was sitting around waiting to talk to a counselor, walking past a bulletin board, or what have you, if there was a pamphlet or some new piece of information I had not previously perused, then I would stop to read it. At least give it a once over.

Heck, you give me a new course catalog, and in an hour I will tell you whether there are any inconsistencies with it and the previous publishing that could affect my plans in any way, shape, or form.

Counselors find me both a bane and a blessing for how on top of things I like to be when it comes to my education ^^

The thing I always have disliked most about colleges attempting to recruit me into their fold is the constant emails of "Come check us out on *insert special day*! We are the top because: *insert generic reasons*." I am perfectly fine with getting the occasional flyer in the mail, but as soon as you start spamming my inbox....

Posted Image

I think the best (but probably most difficult) way of advertising to today's college demographic is putting on large social or public events. A float in the local parade, monthly road clean-up, car washes, Meet-n-Pie the Faculty, what have you.

Something that will get people to at least mention the college in association with the event, and from there, they tell one friend, both of those tell a friend, i++.

This post has been edited by AnalyticLunatic: 03 December 2012 - 02:19 PM

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#13 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advertising for the Student Population

Posted 03 December 2012 - 02:24 PM

so advertising...

Well internet is probably the best place to advertise to potential students.

facebook, youtube, google ads, etc.

My generation and younger spend most of our time on the internet. And of that time we spend it on social media websites.

Social media places like facebook, meetup, etc, allow for groups to be formed and pages associated with organizations that can actively update the followers about wtf they're up to. Furthermore, there are existing groups where people go related to their interests, including education wise.

Like srsly, I know of math, atheist and physics groups with meet-ups on meetup.com. And you can target these demographics in their ads.


Targeted advertising IMO is a good thing. Far better than random advertising. I'd prefer no advertising at all... but I accept it, and if I'm going to have to put up with it, I'd like to know at least what I'm receiving is at least relevant to me. That and relevance is good for the advertiser as well.

And targeting advertising is getting cheaper these days with places like facebook and google doing all that user data mining.

Oh facebook and google, you so evil. :)

This post has been edited by lordofduct: 03 December 2012 - 02:26 PM

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#14 BenignDesign  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advertising for the Student Population

Posted 03 December 2012 - 02:27 PM

So, it's a comfort to know that Big Brother is watching you and tracking your movements and interests purely for the sake of selling shit you wouldn't otherwise realize you didn't have?
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#15 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Advertising for the Student Population

Posted 03 December 2012 - 02:38 PM

Not comforting, but definitely better than seeing ads for "Girls Gone Wild" and "Depends Adult Diapers".


My main thing is, I know where they're data mining (facebook and google and what not). And the results are ads with a smaller foot print that are relevant to me that I can look to when I'm in the mood to be advertised to.

I'll accept that google remembered I purchases a videocard by nvidia from newegg, it means I don't get 100 e-mails about dick enlargement pills, and they place the ad non-obtrusively on the right of my google search results.

This post has been edited by lordofduct: 03 December 2012 - 02:41 PM

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