NEW YORK: Mobile is the most effective medium for advertisers seeking to reach American college students aged 17 to 25, new research has revealed.

According to a study from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and research firm Qriously, these young adults – a mixture of Gen Z and millennials – are more likely than the average smartphone user to say they see relevant ads on their mobile.

The study involved 1,018 smartphone users aged 17 to 25 and their responses were compared with 1,096 smartphone users whose age reflected the general population of the US.

Whereas older smartphone users said they tended to view relevant ads more on TV (28.4%) than mobile (22.2%), the choice of medium reversed for the younger respondents. For them, mobile (27.9%) was more important than TV (21.9%).

This was especially the case for male college students, nearly a third (32.5%) of whom cited mobile as the medium with the most relevant ads compared to just 19% who felt the same about TV.

Female college students were more balanced with an equal number saying mobile and TV were the source of relevant ads.

More than half (55%) of young respondents said they have acted in response to seeing a relevant ad on their mobile device, a higher proportion than typical smartphone owners (49%).

When they notice a relevant ad, students indicated they were much more likely than other smartphone users to screenshot ads (13% versus 7%) and to search for information (13% v. 9.5%), but there were less likely to tap a mobile ad (12% v. 16%).

In addition, students were significantly more likely to choose a brand based on its social media presence (16% v. 10%) and the opinion of friends (13% v. 9%).

"Today's college students are leading mobile first lives – and will surely take their mobile-first mindset with them into the world after graduation," said Anna Bager, IAB's svp and general manager of mobile and video.

"Gen Z and the young millennials on campus now are tomorrow's next set of primary consumers and it is apparent that marketers and agencies need to reach this coveted audience on mobile screens."

Data sourced from IAB; additional content by Warc staff