Home of:

Mobile Marketing

Weekly Mobile Breakdown: Smartphone Use High Among U.S. College Students

Tina Products/Markets Analyst
August 30, 2012

According to a recent eMarketer article, smartphone users currently comprise 67% of college mobile phone users and is expected to increase to 91.4%(!) by 2016—quite high considering the current estimated smartphone penetration rate among U.S. consumers is 36.6% and is projected to increase to only 58.5% in 2016.


Between February 2010 and February 2012, college students’ attitudes towards mobile ads have fluctuated, but as a whole, this demographic group views mobile ads less favorably than U.S. Internet-capable mobile device owners in general. According to eMarketer, as of February 2012, 46.8% of the latter are annoyed by mobile ads, while the same could be said for 69.3% of college students. As a matter of fact, 44.2% of college students are less likely to purchase a product after viewing a mobile ad for it, while 5.4% are more likely to purchase.


However, cash-strapped college students may make a profitable advertising target for coupon offers or course-related items—they’re much more likely to respond to coupon offers than any other type of mobile ad, according to eMarketer. With smartphone use high among college students, would targeting them be worth the ad spend? In the short term, if the mobile ad contains some added incentive to click, then yes, but compared to other older age groups, on average, college students may be less inclined to spend money overall. So, how should you advertise if you still want to target college students?  According to eMarketer, “Marketers that push creative boundaries, deliver content that is fun to share and diversify the types of mobile ads used will have the best odds of increasing engagement levels and brand perception among the college set.”















Based on the charts above, below are some key highlights and takeaways I think are important for mobile marketers & advertisers to consider.


  • Smartphone penetration is at 67% for U.S. college mobile phone users this year, higher than the general population
  • Smartphone penetration rate will reach 91.4% of U.S. college mobile phone users in 2016
  • 44% of college students will be less likely to purchase a product after seeing a mobile ad for it, while 5.4% would be more likely to purchase the product
  • 85% of female college students and 62% of male college students are most likely to respond to ads with coupon offers


  • U.S. college students may not be a profitable group to target through mobile
  • The chances of them being more likely to purchase your product after seeing an ad for it are relatively slim
  • If you want to advertise to college students, you’d have more luck with coupon offers than any other type of mobile ad
  • The key to targeting college students isn’t necessarily to sell, but to increase engagement and awareness with your brand by pushing creative boundaries and delivering interesting content



Leave a Reply


See What People
Are Saying


“T-Mobile was able to delight customers with a fun game that could work across virtually any phone, with Velti making it possible. Velti was great to work with & their commitment to the success of the program was excellent.” - Chad Hodge, T-Mobile USA

Pic Stitch_logo

“The thing I love about Mobclix is its simplicity--sign up & you have instant access to over 35 ad networks. Not only that, but I’ve already seen a 400% increase in revenue from March, and 12M impressions a week!” - Alex Keim, Creator of Pic Stitch, Big Blue Clip  


"Mobclix greatly helps manage & control the quality of our ads, and as a result, our Fruit Ninja app made over $400,000 in April 2012 alone off of ad-network sales." - Jared Oats, Advertising Manager, Halfbrick


“TinyCo is thrilled to be working with the Velti Exchange—we’ve seen great results from the campaigns we’ve run so far and are excited about the future of our relationship!” - Growth & User Acquisition Team, Tinyco


“We strongly believe that mobile marketing and advertising is here and we have already taken the first successful steps in partnering with Velti in this new era for the mobile industry.” - MTC Russia


“Velti has shown consistent respect for policies and procedures, in addition to designing and implementing the campaigns. We look forward to continuing this fruitful cooperation in the future.” - MBC Group

Follow us


Who is Velti?

Subscribe to Newsletter