Advertiser’s Tricks to Capture Children’s Attention

Today’s kids are running the world.  Notwithstanding the effectiveness of parental control apps, a traditional children’s strategy for getting what they want still works, namely, by asking for it.  Breakfast, lunch, clothing choices, family entertainment, trips, and excursions are all influenced between 95 and 98% of the time through a child’s recommendation. Children also affect 75% of software and 60% of computer purchases.  Advertisers, thrilled by such affirming statistics, rely on children to pester their parents for a product.

The Technological Generation

The arrival of the “swipe” of a technological device first began as an experiment.  Apple marketers gave one-year-old children Blackberries and quickly learned their first engaging act was to swipe their fingers over the screen.  Perhaps adults assumed the “swipe” was for ease of access; however, marketing saw it as the most effective tool to soothe a fussy toddler. Marketers knew once Dad or Mom handed a child an Internet-capable device with lights, music, sounds, and the ability to manipulate objects, the tool would result in a purchase for each child in the household.  The problem escalated when a child requested day and night the fastest and newest model. Parents are less likely to say no when they, too, benefit from a child’s willingness to sit quietly and still.

Bombarded by Advertisements

Adults understand marketing schemes much better than a child, who believes most products are needed immediately and can justify with a list of at least five reasons.  After viewing the same ad numerous times, children respond by assuming the item is, after all, essential.  As ads target a child’s developmental, emotional, and social vulnerabilities with up to an astounding 5,000 ads daily, marketing companies are winning the quest to appeal to children. Since many strategies reach their target, major food companies, for instance, use appealing websites, multimedia games or videos to sell their least-nutritional cereals.

Additional ways advertisements are effective.

  • Celebrities will tweet their love of a particular product not labeled technically as an “ad”; yet, earning money for them from the sponsor.
  • Teens can receive text updates through mobile alerts from their favorite shows. This approach, unknown to the buyer at sign-up, fosters additional ads from companies who have bought your children’s information.
  • Products such as Lucky Charms and the Happy Meal offer YouTube videos. Because the animated videos are enjoyable, they emphasize the product through its virtual world.
  • A social networking music site, Spotify, feeds off of social acceptance by publishing a teen’s listening activity on Facebook.
  • School systems allow fast food or soft drink companies to offer their products in the system’s specific district.

Solutions to Protect Children from Advertising

Is the tactic working?

By the time a child is three, 100 brand name logos are recognizable. At 10, the number increases to 400. As a result, the annual $250 billion-dollar industry receives approximately $155 billion through teen sales, $25 billion from children younger than 12, and $200 billion through parental spending for both groups.

What are the solutions?

  • Technological devices need strong parental controls, limiting a young child’s viewing beyond “regular programming.”
  • Advertisers also hope children are online without parental awareness. Help children to recognize the traps of appealing sights and not to divulge private information.
  • Positive mascots or memorable jingles can carry a positive perception from childhood through adulthood. Not all fun foods are healthful; therefore, talk openly about brands and why advertising wants its consumers to believe it is a beneficial product.
  • Parents must be aware of the ease with which children can access adult-rated games, movies, and music. Downloading a kid-friendly app, such as Kidoz, can prevent children from viewing inappropriate content and ads.
  • If you are seeking a means to determine if a movie, DVD, TV show, or video game is appropriate for your child, then access the Common-Sense Media website. Designed for parents, educators, and even kids, reviews from adults and children offer users a helpful perspective to determine whether a title is right for a particular-aged child.

Some kids say, “I’ve seen that ad a million times.” And, they are correct!  It’s time to make a change and educate children to identify as tricks the flashing banner ads, contests, sweepstakes, and the sponsored links that “match” a child’s preferences!


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