Kids Don’t Want Embedded Ads, They Want What Their Parents Have

As if parents aren’t concerned enough about how advertisers are reaching their kids, there’s now a new reason to worry: embedded advertising in online games. Many companies, like General Mills, are creating online games teeming with product promotions that are aimed directly at children. But Tom Ascheim, a former executive at Nickelodeon, said at the 92YTribeca that there is little reason to be concerned, as children won’t invest much time into the games geared towards them. Children will quickly want the gadgets, toys, and games that their parents and older siblings have.

Ascheim points out that while advertising is no longer limited to just “this blinking thing” that children come across, kids have been consuming imbedded marketing messages since the beginning of media. He makes an excellent point in that before “children’s entertainment,” kids consumed the media aimed at their parents which was brimming with product placement. Kids in the 40s and 50s watched their favorite starlets and leading men suck down certain branded cigarettes like there weren’t going to be anymore the next day.

But Ascheim brought up marketed kid’s cell phones as an example, as in his estimation, these “grown up” products geared towards kids always fail. The main reason is that children are always going to want what their parents and older siblings have, not what has been designated for them. I agree, as every little kid I know is an avid user of her mother’s iPhone — if only for the games. If you hand those kids one of these, they’ll look at you like you’ve punished them. Kids are aware of the sexy features on their parent’s smartphones and won’t be enticed by, essentially, a downgraded version of what they’re already familiar with.

The same can be said for social networking sites that have been popping up lately for kids. Everloop has been getting quite bit a press lately as a safe haven for kids on the internet. Although they can connect with kids like them with similar interests (kind of like modern pen-pals), the site has been said to be pulsating with embedded ads.

Yet what eight-year-old who has been peering over their sister’s shoulder at her Facebook page is really going to want to be on Everloop? They know already that it’s a diluted version of what the big kids have and that Facebook has more features, more capabilities, and more access to people they actually like, such as Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez.

So perhaps children will be enthralled with online games for a little bit, but soon they’ll get a glimpse of their older brother’s Wii and a game of catching cereal won’t nearly hold the same appeal.


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