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Comcast Launches Creative Way to Market to College Students with New Technology

Two female Gen Z Comcast customers smiling because the company's creative way to market to college students included Amazon Music and HBO, too.

Comcast Launches Creative Way to Market to College Students with New Technology

by Tony Coray
Senior Content Strategist
Posted on Aug 29, 2019 5 min read

Gen Z is a highly coveted audience, and smart brands are doing everything they can to capture their attention. Comcast developed a creative way to market to college students that leverages the best of what they, and other media companies, have to offer. This new approach maintains Comcast’s profit margins and it’s working like gangbusters.

Gen Z is the Future of Streaming Media

Like most subscription companies, Comcast knew three things: competition is fierce, differentiation is hard, and churn is a constant threat.

But the company also knew the way to win this battle was to target youth. College students have more than $574 billion in spending power in the US alone. And they’re forming lifelong brand relationships.

“Gen Z is the future of the industry and a demographic sweet spot for us,” said Cheri Davies, Senior Director of Acquisition Marketing for Comcast. “They’re always online and they love technology, movies, sports—everything Comcast is good at and has to offer. We knew our growth potential with this audience was vast, and we just needed to find a way to reach them.”

Comcast found a solution: give students a gated, exclusive offer.

US college student spending power is more than $574B.

Phase One: Stop Zip Code Marketing

Comcast used to take a more conventional approach to marketing to college students with tactics like direct mail to everyone who lived near a campus. But that approach was expensive and risky. 

Targeting students in a city like Boston required sending collateral to practically every resident. And if non-students were able to redeem the offer, Comcast would lose money. 

In 2018, Comcast found a better solution. It implemented the offer with SheerID, a digital verification platform that ensured only eligible students would receive the exclusive promotion. 

Digital verification protected Comcast’s offer from discount abuse and brought in waves of new subscribers. This gave the company confidence to sweeten the deal with a promotion students couldn’t refuse.

Phase Two: Offer a Deal That No One Else Can

This summer, Comcast launched an even more creative way to market to college students. In July it expanded the offer by joining forces with two other premium media destinations—Amazon Music and HBO.

Cheri said digital verification made the partnerships easy to form. “When Amazon Music and HBO knew we were protecting the offer with SheerID, they jumped on board.”

Once students verify their eligibility, they can choose among three tiers of service. All packages include free access to Amazon Music and some include free live streaming and free HBO. 

It’s a fantastic deal that gives students everything they want: thousands of free shows and movies, live sports, and unlimited access to their favorite artists, study playlists, and workout tunes.

"When Amazon Music and HBO knew we were protecting the offer with SheerID, they jumped on board." Cheri Davies, Senior Director of Acquisition Marketing for Comcast.

Comcast’s Campaign Is a Full-Court Press

Cheri believed the new gated offer had great potential, so she pulled out all the stops promoting it.

“Knowing that only students could redeem the offer gave us the confidence to make it truly appealing and market it aggressively,” explained Cheri. “The timing was right, and we knew SheerID provided 100% coverage, so we didn’t hold back.”

Comcast implemented a rolling thunder approach heading into the school year. The company launched a bold campaign using bright colors, SEO, SEM, and video that ran across all channels—website, radio, social, and more. Comcast also hired a fleet of student ambassadors and scheduled numerous campus events at colleges across the country. 

The impressive approach reflected the company’s belief in the program. “No other Comcast deal is running a campaign this deep,” Cheri said.

The Payoff Was Immediate and Big

Cheri’s instincts about how to reach the student market were spot on.

“Our new gated student offer has taken off,” she said. “After just one week, we’ve seen an enormous spike in traffic to our site and a significant lift in conversions. And we know these will continue to rise as students settle into their semester.”

"After just one week, we've seen an enormous spike in traffic to our site and a significant lift in conversions." Cheri Davies, Senior Director of Acquisition Marketing for Comcast.

Comcast’s New Offer Is a Game Changer

Partnerships like this have unlimited potential for tapping into the student market. According to Kelton Research, gated offers are among the best ways to market to college students and are a highly effective approach to reach Gen Z:

  • More than half of Gen Z said gated offers make them feel excited.
  • 91% are more likely to shop with a brand that offers student discounts.
  • 83% would share a gated offer with friends and family.

Comcast’s partnership with Amazon Music and HBO is a creative way to market to college students, and similar programs are likely to follow. Digital verification will enable these efforts by securing them and giving brands the tools they need to develop loyal customers. 

“SheerID’s verification process is rigorous and gives us high-quality data that we can use in ongoing nurture campaigns,” said Cheri. “Partnering with them has given us a powerful new way to capture and retain our ideal customer segment.”

Read our e-book: Marketing to Gen Z