Read the article and answer the following question:
(Must use references to support the ideas.)
Discuss and evaluate the recommendations made by Common Sense Media as to what steps should be taken to protect children and teens from the negative impacts of advertising.
A Common Sense Media Research Brief S PRIN G 2 014
Advertising to Children and Teens: Current Practices
Advertising to Children and Teens: Current Practices A Common Sense Media Research Brief
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Table of Contents
Introduction ………………………………………… 5
Findings ……………………………………………… 7
Television advertising ……………………………………………………………………. 7
Product placement and embedded advertising ………………………………… 8
Cross-promotions ………………………………………………………………………… 9
Online advertising ………………………………………………………………………… 9
Mobile advertising ………………………………………………………………………..13
Integrated marketing campaigns …………………………………………………….14
Conclusion ……………………………………….. 15
References ……………………………………….. 17
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The average American child age 8 or older spends more than seven hours a day with screen media, watching TV, using the computer, playing video games, and using hand-held devices (Rideout et al., 2010). Even much younger children, age 2-8, spend nearly two hours a day with screen media (Common Sense Media, 2013). And through virtually all these media, children are exposed to advertising.
The media environment for children and teens has changed dramatically in recent years, and so, too, has the advertising environment — perhaps even more so. In the past, advertising to children and youth consisted primarily of 30-second TV ads; now it includes product placements, immersive websites, advergaming, viral marketing, mobile ads, social-media mar- keting, and precise behavioral and location targeting. More than ever before, advertising and entertainment are inex- tricably linked. In many cases, the content is the ad.
With all the focus on how children and teens are affected by media, the advertising embedded in all this content is sometimes overlooked. The purpose of this research brief is to provide an inventory of the new techniques and methods being used to market to children and teens, and a review of what we know about the extent of children’s exposure to advertising and marketing messages through media. The brief highlights where research is scarce, incomplete, or outdated and offers some thoughts on the need for important new areas of study.
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Television advertising. Children and teens still spend more time watching TV than they do using any other type of media, an average of approximately one hour a day among 2- to 8-year-olds (Common Sense Media, 2013) and more than two-and-a-half hours a day of live TV among those 8 and older (Rideout et al., 2010). TV viewing is gradually shifting from “live” programming (i.e., watching shows as they are aired) to viewing online or on mobile devices (Nielsen, 2011) or to programming that is either ad-free (such as on premium cable) or recorded on a digital video recorder (DVR) and watched later, so the ads can be skipped (Common Sense Media, 2013). In addition, some portion of children’s viewing is on networks that don’t have traditional advertising, such as PBS or the Disney Channel. Nonetheless, live T V viewing continues to dominate young people’s TV viewing (Rideout et al., 2010; Common Sense Media, 2013), and the bulk of their viewing is still on ad-supported platforms.
Children’s exposure to traditional TV ads is the most straight- forward type of exposure for researchers to quantify, and yet even data on this relatively simple measure is hard to access in the public arena. Content studies can count the number and type of ads in a representative sample of television shows, but such studies don’t reflect the mix of programming actually watched by children or teens (some commercial-free, some prime-time, some children’s, some cable, some broadcast).
Inventory: How Children and Teens Are Advertised to Today
One study that relied on Nielsen data estimated that children age 2-11 saw an average of about 25,600 TV ads per year and that more than 40 percent of their ad exposure was from shows whose audience is not primarily children (meaning less than 20 percent of the audience is children) (Holt et al., 2007). Some studies focus specifically on quantifying children’s exposure to particular categories of television advertising, such as food. For example, a study using Nielsen data deter- mined that children age 2-11 viewed an average of 14 food or beverage ads a day in 2004, 12.3 in 2008, 13.4 in 2010, and 12.8 in 2011 (Rudd Center, 2012). Adolescents (age 12-17) saw slightly more, an average of 13.2 a day in 2004, 13.1 in 2007, and 16.2 in both 2010 and 2011. Studies using Nielsen data also can quantify the number of ads seen in specific product categories. For example, the Rudd Center (2012) determined that, as of 2011, fast-food restaurant, candy, and cereal ads accounted for just under half of all food and beverage ads seen by children and adolescents (Rudd Center, 2012). However, very few academic or public-sector researchers are able to purchase Nielsen data.
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Product placement and embedded ad- vertising. Many companies are now incorporating their products into the programming that audiences are viewing (TV, movies) or playing (games). Instead of featuring a company’s product or brand in a separate, distinct ad, companies pay to have their products and logos appear during the program itself. According to the New York Times, this type of brand placement has become a “hot trend” in advertising, “going beyond the realm of traditional advertising and into the world of editorial and entertainment known as content marketing or branded content” (Elliott, 2013a).
Embedded advertising is a term the FCC uses to encompass several types of brand placement — for example, product placement (the use of a branded product in a production) and product integration (the incorporation of the product into the dialogue or plot of the program or game) (Cain, 2011). Embedded advertising now occurs across media platforms, from television to movies to video games. In a video game, product placement might involve a character passing an “ad” for a product in a virtual world — perhaps a billboard for a soft drink — or passing a vending machine in a “hallway” of that world.
Although this practice isn’t new, it has become more attractive to companies as consumers have been watching more “time- shifted” TV and fast-forwarding through ads, making them harder to reach through traditional advertising.
In 2002, Coca-Cola struck one of the most visible product- placement deals at the time when it paid to have a glass of Coke placed in front of each judge on American Idol (Carter, 2002). In the first half of 2007, Coca-Cola appeared 3,054 times on broadcast network programs (Story, 2007). Product integration can go well beyond mere “placement,” such as when an entire episode of “The Apprentice” revolved around a competition to design Burger King’s new Western Angus Steak Burger (Porter, 2008).
One of only a handful of studies to document children’s expo- sure to product placements on T V focused on food- and beverage-related placements (Speers, Harris, & Schwartz, 2011). Using Nielsen data, this study found that, in 2008, Coca-Cola accounted for 15 percent of all product placements that occurred on TV and 70 percent of all placements viewed by children. Due to the large number of children in the audience for “general audience” programming such as American Idol (nearly 2.2 million per episode in 2008) and the fact that Coke doesn’t advertise directly on children’s shows, children actually viewed nearly 10 times as many Coke “brand appearances” through embedded advertising than through traditional TV commercials (a total of 198 during the year, or three to four times per week) (Harris, 2013).
To date, researchers haven’t settled on a methodology for measuring exposure to this form of advertising; they haven’t even decided whether it’s a matter of simply counting the number of exposures to an image of the brand’s logo or product or somehow factoring in the length of the exposure and/or whether dialogue is included or the “story line” of the episode is driven by the product. It is also difficult to know how to compare such exposure to a child or teen’s exposure to discrete, longer-form advertising. Preliminary research indicates children have a harder time identifying “embedded” content as advertising and understanding the persuasive intent behind it (Owen et al., 2013). At this point, there simply are no accurate measures of the extent or impact of young people’s exposure to product placements and other types of embedded advertising.
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Online advertising. Online advertising has funda- mentally changed the nature of marketing to children and youth. In the beginning, online ads were nothing more than static “banner ads”: images of a marketing message with a minimal amount of text. Today, online advertising encompasses not only more sophisticated and enticing banner ads but also “advergames,” online videos, branded websites, virtual worlds, and social marketing. According to research published in 2010, 87 percent of the most popular children’s websites include some type of adver tising (Cai & Zhao, cited in Kunkel & Castonguay, 2012). Today’s online advertising represents a “fundamentally different” type of exposure from that of TV or print (Moore & Rideout, 2007; Montgomery, 2012). Online advertising is a game changer for several reasons: • It is often interactive, meaning the child or teen actively
engages with the brand (for example, by playing a game that involves the brand’s product or logo or by voting for “favorite” flavors or videos);
• It is also often “immersive,” meaning that the child or adolescent is in a fully branded “environment” for an extended period of time, and the lines between advertising and other content are blurred; and
• Online advertising is fundamentally different because it can be built on data about the child or teenager that allows it to be targeted to them based on their interests, locations, and demographic characteristics.
All of these factors also make it difficult to measure and evaluate the impact of children’s exposure to online advertising. As American University’s Kathryn Montgomery (2012) has noted, “[D]igital entertainment and advertising are now thoroughly intertwined,” and this makes it “difficult to isolate advertising as a separate form of communication” — either by the child or by researchers. It is also difficult to know how to compare the effect of a 30-second TV ad that is passively received by a child to the effect of that child playing a branded game for three minutes or to the effect of his or her interacting with an online ad that has been targeted especially to him or her. With targeting, a young girl who has searched for dolls may see ads for various new doll products, while a teenager who has down- loaded a certain type of music or searched for books on par- ticular subjects may see ads that are based on those searches.
Cross-promotions. Advertising to children and teens continues to rely heavily on cross-promotional tie-ins with popular cartoon characters, sports stars, and Hollywood celebrities. These can range from free movie-character toys offered with children’s meals to sophisticated social-media campaigns aimed at teenagers and featuring popular musicians or movie stars.
There is currently no publicly available official count of cross- promotions aimed at the youth market nor an agreed-upon methodology within the research community for tracking children’s exposure to such campaigns. News stories illustrate some examples, however. In mid-2013, the mobile-game developer Zynga formed a number of cross-promotional partnerships to market its newest game. Ads for the animated movie Despicable Me 2 were shown in the new Zynga game, and drawing chal- lenges in the game were built around the movie’s characters. Youth-oriented celebrities such as Carly Rae Jepsen and will.i.am also participated in the new game (Wortham, 2013).
In a Congressionally mandated study of food-industry mar- keting to children, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) used subpoenas to collect advertising data from companies (FTC, 2012). This study documented more than 120 cross-promo- tions in 2009 (up from 80 in 2006) “tying food and beverage products to popular movies, TV programs, cartoon charac- ters, toys, websites, video games, theme parks, and other entertainment venues.”
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In general, research about online advertising to youth has lagged far behind research on television advertising (Kunkel & Castonguay, 2012). A search of an academic database showed 50 citations for scholarly articles on children, advertising, and television between 2001 and 2005, compared to only four citations on children, advertising, and the Internet. Between 2006 and 2010, 56 studies on children and TV advertising were referenced, compared to 16 for the Internet (Kunkel & Castonguay, 2012). Clearly, we need new methodologies for measuring children’s exposure to online advertising and research to comparatively assess the impact of these various online-advertising techniques.
It is likely that children’s exposure to online advertising is quite high. As of 2010, children age 8 and older are spending an average of an hour and a half each day using a computer for fun at home. This includes activities such as visiting social- networking sites, playing online games, watching videos on sites such as YouTube, or surfing the Internet (Rideout, 2010). It does not include time spent watching TV online (another 24 minutes a day, on average), listening to music on a computer, or doing schoolwork. Computer use starts young: 5- to 8-year- olds average 18 minutes a day using a computer (Common Sense Media, 2013).
Following are some specific types of advertising children and teens are exposed to online:
Advergaming: Advergames are games that are created by a firm for the explicit purpose of promoting one or more of its brands (Moore & Rideout, 2007). According to a 2006 study, 63 percent of children’s websites include advergames (Weber, Story, & Harnack, 2006), while a more recent study found that 80 percent of websites for foods that were promoted on children’s TV networks included such games (Culp, Bell, & Cassady, 2010). Advergames can be found on gaming sites or on branded product sites (see section on branded websites below). An advergame usually involves a user playing with branded items (e.g., using Life Savers or Oreo cookies as gaming pieces) or playing in a heavily branded environment (e.g., a virtual arcade that contains company logos or product images). Advergames often involve the child for a longer period of time than TV ads do, and the experience of playing the game is more immersive and may promote identification with the product (Moore & Rideout, 2007). By their very nature,
advergames blur the boundaries between entertainment and advertising content, since they’re both an advertisement and a game (Moore & Rideout, 2007). The mental state of “flow” that some gamers get into while playing also may contribute to a blurring of the boundaries (Montgomery et al., 2013). Advergames exist on websites accessible via computers and mobile devices.
Among the research priorities regarding advergames are studies to: • Quantify the extent of advergaming opportunities for
children and teens online, and the frequency with which young people engage with such content;
• Ascertain children’s ability to recognize an advergame as an ad or to understand the persuasive intent behind the game;
• Clarify the effect of advergames, given the prolonged engagement children have with brand icons while playing.
Branded websites: Many companies have created branded websites that include content designed to attract children or teens. These websites, which are promoted in television ads and on product packaging, may include elements such as games, contests, videos, and downloadable branded products. For example, Pepsi has had several websites and a YouTube channel for Mountain Dew since 2007. One website, Mountaindew.com, is openly branded and has a variety of teen-oriented content about snowboarders, rap music, and Mountain Dew-sponsored skateboarding and music tours (the site also promotes the brand’s Twitter feed and Facebook site). As of mid-2013, the company is consolidating several of its other sites into a new site (Green-Label.com) that will feature content on fashion, sports, music, and gaming designed to attract young viewers (Elliott, 2013b). The senior brand manager for the soda company calls the new site a “hub for youth culture” and points to its immersive and cross- platform nature, noting that it signals “a transition from a campaign-specific approach to an ‘always-on’ approach” (Elliott, 2013b).
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Branded websites attract younger children, some because they’re aimed at children and others because children are among users that may also include teens and young adults (Harris, Weinberg, Javadizadeh, & Sarda, 2013). MyCokeRewards.com received 42,000 unique child visitors (age 2–11) every month in 2010 (Harris et al., 2011). A study of the websites of companies that marketed food to children on television found that 85 percent had websites with content for children (Moore & Rideout, 2007). Another found that the top cereal brands maintained branded websites aimed at children (Cheyne et al., 2013). Among the types of content found on branded websites are:
Viral marketing: Viral marketing includes efforts to encourage children to send branded greetings to their friends or to invite their friends to visit the company’s website. This might include a suggestion to send a friend a “postcard” (promoting the website) or to “challenge a friend” to play one of the site’s games. Once the child visitor shares his or her friend’s email address, the company sends the friend a message promoting the site. One study found that two-thirds of child-oriented branded food sites included viral marketing (Moore & Rideout, 2007).
Online TV ads: Many branded children’s sites feature TV ads and use “polls and rewards to induce kids to watch them, multiple times” (Moore & Rideout, 2007). For example, on one site children could enter a virtual movie theater and watch cereal ads on the large screen, earning points for each time they viewed an ad. On another site, children were asked to view a variety of TV ads for a product and vote for their favorite.
Downloadable branded items: Many websites include branded items for a child to download, either onto their com- puter desktop (such as screensavers) or for printing and using in the “real” world. For example, children can print art activities (e.g., a McDonald’s coloring book), book covers, bookmarks, and wall posters. Such items “can be an effective mechanism to provide many additional brand exposures over time” (Moore & Rideout, 2007).
Premium offers to encourage product purchases: Nearly a third (31 percent) of sites reviewed in a 2007 study (Moore & Rideout, 2007) included some type of premium offer in exchange for the child purchasing the product. For example, one candy site offered free movie tickets, but the child had to purchase several bags of candy and submit codes from the bags online to enter the sweepstakes. Another food company offered a free branded Super Ball to children if they registered on the website, played an advergame, and invited a friend to the site. Other sites encouraged children to get a code from product packaging to gain access to a “secret” part of the website or “premium” games.
There is scant research either quantifying children’s exposure to or examining the effects of branded websites on young people. Among the research priorities regarding branded websites are studies to:
• Document the frequency of ad and brand exposures children experience through the myriad methods being used to reach them on branded websites;
• Explore the impact of viral marketing, including how often children and teens participate in it, whether they are aware of the purpose of companies’ efforts to engage them in viral marketing, and what the effect is on both the sender and the recipient;
• Measure the frequency of repeated viewings of video or TV ads by children online, and assess the effect of multiple viewings on the child; and
• Quantify the presence of these and other advertising and marketing elements being used in websites frequented by children.
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Social-media marketing: Social-media marketing includes a wide variety of online-advertising techniques, including placing ads on social-networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook; establishing profiles for companies on Facebook and other sites for children and teens to interact with; and embedding promotional content into Twitter feeds or Facebook posts. As of 2012, three-quarters of all teenagers reported having a profile on a social-networking site, and 22 percent had a Twitter account. Half of all teens visit their social-networking sites daily and a third do so several times a day (Common Sense Media, 2012).
According to a 2012 report from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about food marketing to children and teens, “Food marketers had their own Facebook and MySpace pages, links to Twitter accounts, dedicated portions of YouTube, and used other popular social media sites.” Companies encourage young people to “like” them online or sign up for their Twitter feeds, often in exchange for product savings or premiums (FTC, 2012). On Facebook, young people’s “actions” (such as “liking” a company, “listening” to a musical artist, and so on) may appear in posts on their “friends’” sites as endorsements, so-called “sponsored story” ads (Goel, 2013).
One of the advantages companies have when they use social- networking sites to market their products is the ability to target their messages based on the interests of the recipient. What a teen posts on her Facebook account can be used to select the ads she will see; similarly Twitter recently announced that it has developed “a new tool that allows marketers to disseminate targeted messages based on the content of users’ tweets” (Shih, 2013). Youth-oriented brands such as Pepsi and Burger King are among “the pioneers of social media marketing,” and PepsiCo has “restructured its overall marketing approach to focus on social media” (Montgomery, 2013). Coca-Cola has 21 million fans on Facebook and is developing its new marketing campaigns using social media (Montgomery, 2013). Companies create a plethora of both branded and unbranded content to drive users to their social- media sites. For example, Pepsi’s “Live for Now” campaign included “exclusive” content on the company’s Facebook and Twitter sites, such as live-streamed concerts, bringing it 250,000 new fans in one month (MediaPost, 2013).
Social-media marketing may also feature user-created content, such as videos created by young people and then spread virally through companies’ social-media campaigns. In a campaign to promote the stuffed-animal toy Furby to tween girls, Hasbro invited young people to create YouTube videos featuring the furry creatures; those videos were then spread virally through social-media posts by top tween celebrities such as Selena Gomez and Carly Rae Jepsen. This campaign generated 10 million social-media impressions (MediaPost, 2013). A Twitter campaign sponsored by Gatorade during the Olympics created a special branded “microsite” on which teen athletes spoke about their lives and motivations and invited teen viewers to tweet about their own inspirations using a special hashtag. The best of those tweets were then reposted and retweeted, generating a reported 11 million social-media impressions (Media Post, 2013).
To date, research about social-media marketing and teens has been limited. For example, it is not known: • How often teens interact with corporate social-
networking sites by “liking” products and the extent of their subsequent interactions with the company or product as a result of taking that action;
• The effect of the contact teens then receive from companies they have engaged with online; or
• The influence of “sponsored story”-style testimonial ads viewed by teens on their social-networking sites.
Banner ads: Banner ads are still used to market to children and teens. Indeed, a study by Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity calculated that more than three billion “display advertisements” for food and beverages were viewed on children’s websites between July 2009 and June 2010 (Ustjanauskas et al., 2013).
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Mobile advertising. The advent of mobile advertising to children and teens is another game changer. Now young people can be reached with advertising messages throughout the day, not only when they’re sitting in front of a television set or a computer. As with online advertising, the content is interactive. Mobile advertising can be targeted to young people more narrowly than other online advertising, since it can track their locations in relation to specific retail outlets or fast-food venues (Montgomery, 2013). As of 2012, 41 percent of all 12- to 17-year-olds had a smartphone, and two out of three had some type of mobile device that could connect to the Internet, such as a tablet or an iPod Touch (Common Sense Media, 2012).
Mobile advertising can come in the form of small banner ads, branded apps, and “in-app” advertising. Most mobile Internet use now is conducted primarily through mobile applications, or “apps” (Nielsen, 2011). When a user downloads an app, the company behind the app often gains access to significant amounts of information about him or her, which can then be used to target advertising. Apps may access more than personal information, too; they can access a teen’s contact list and photos. According to Nielsen (2011), more than half of teens say they “always” or “sometimes” look at mobile ads.
A branded app is similar to a branded website — a specific company (e.g., Starbucks or Coca-Cola) creates an applica- tion that offers ways for children and teens to interact with the company or its products, through games or by responding to special offers such as coupons. Marketers believe that this exposure to branded content on a mobile device is “a great way to create significant lifts in brand affinity, brand recall and future purchase intent” (Ting, 2008). Companies often offer rewards to users who download a branded app (Tapjoy, 2012).
Examples of branded apps include games from sports compa- nies (Nike Golf 360), movies (Men In Black 3), soda companies (Coke’s Crabs and Penguins game), and deodorant companies aimed at young men (Unilever). A …