AIM high: Out of home for campuses
November 6, 2005
When America Online decided to launch its first ad campaign for its overhauled AIM instant messaging device, it went straight to college campuses’ bulletin boards to deliver its message, in what’s become a recent trend.
Advertisers have long struggled with how to reach college students, who are not big TV watchers or magazine readers but no less a valuable audience, spending $54 billion per year on discretionary purchases like clothes and food.
There are two main arguments for using out of home on campuses: it’s cost-efficient and measurable.
We think it’s definitely more effective than traditional TV advertising, says Josh Weil, vice president and partner of market research firm Student Monitor. We say that because you’re able to measure it with pre- and post-tests to see if there’s been a lift in awareness.
AOL, which claims half of all 13-25s use AIM, began plastering posters across 43 campuses nationwide two weeks ago, along with an extensive web campaign targeting college favorites like MTV.com and Facebook.com.
The new AIM has several new services the old one did not. We didn’t want people to say ˜I thought this was a fork and it’s turned into a Swiss army knife,’ says a spokesperson for AOL.
But cutting through the poster clutter that accumulates on every campus can be tricky. Weil says out of home content has to be timely, relevant to students’ lives and entertaining.
AOL placed brightly colored posters, each touting a different new AIM feature, both indoors and outdoors and changed them each week. One, for example, reads I am bigger than you, promoting AIM’s ability to send bigger files via instant messenger.
It’s common for what [AOL is] trying to do, keeping it fresh, keeping it relevant, says Student Monitor’s Weil.
He says Dove, Kotex, Xbox and MTVU have also recently run successful on-campus out-of-home campaigns.
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