Remember the good old days when the only time you had to worry about your kids bugging you to buy them stuff was when they were watching commercials during Saturday morning cartoons? Well, those days are gone. Welcome to the world of Internet marketing — a playground for advertisers and a place where targeting children is easier than ever before.
Advertisers like to target children because “if you can get ’em at a young age, you got ’em for life.” Kids are increasingly spending more money themselves, and besides that, they tend to have influence on their parents. Kids know that when they want something bad enough, they can generally nag until they get it. Unless it was my dad, who told me to get a job before I could walk. I learned to make a lot of toys out of wood scraps and pinecones. But that’s neither here nor there.
Child advertising used to mainly focus on kid things such as toys and candy. Now the field has broadened to include almost anything. In the US there are over 57 million school age children and teenagers who spend about $100 billion each year of their own and their family’s money on sweets, food, drinks, video and electronic products, toys, games, movies, sports, clothes and shoes. So you can see why marketers want to target this demographic.
There are millions of kids using the Internet world-wide and this figure is bound to increase dramatically over the next few years. The Internet is a place where advertisers can target these kids, often unabated and without parents even knowing.
Advertisers can elicit personal information by asking kids to fill out surveys online in exchange for letting them play games or offering them prizes. From these surveys they can find out children’s preferences and purchase patterns.
This information can then be used to create individualized profiles and ads to target specific demographics. These ads can often be intermingled with other content on specific sites that are designed to keep children entertained for hours, not even realizing that they are being exposed to calculated invasive advertising techniques.
Once again it comes down to being a responsible parent and keeping a watchful eye on what kind of sites that your kids are visiting. Often the targets can be too young to even understand what personal information is, so it is a wise idea to make sure that your kid is not being taken advantage of by monitoring their Internet activity.