The Literature Review of the Advertising Education Forum
The Advertising Education Forum (AEF), a non-profit organisation dedicated to understanding the interaction between marketing communications, children and the media, published on the 5th of July 2012 a literature review prepared for AEF by Dr Barbie Clarke of Family, Kids and Youth and Cambridge University. This review looks specifically at the short-term and long-term effects of digital marketing and advertising on children, which is an area that is currently under-researched.
The review considers which disciplines are focusing on advertising and digital marketing to children, assesses which countries have mostly undertaken research in this area, which forms of marketing are the most relevant, what the implications are for methodology and regulation, and finally what is needed of future research.
It has been acknowledged that more research has to be undertaken to better evaluate how children use digital devices and how they understand and interact with digital marketing communications and online advertising messages. In the meantime, there are important steps taken by regulatory bodies that represent marketers, particularly in developed markets, with respect to self-regulation, information and education of parents and marketers, in order to diminish children’s vulnerability when accessing information on digital devices.
However, as there are gaps in the literature and research on this subject, there are a number of key proposals put forward in this review:
- Enhancing positive messages such as healthy eating, exercise, prevention of drugs and alcohol abuse which can be used by marketing techniques targeted at children, thereby presenting the opportunities for learning that the digital space entails;
- Seeking the consent of adults and children themselves before collecting children’s data for marketing purposes on websites and social networking sites;
- Conducting research on location-based advertising rather than in laboratories, to assess the effects of digital marketing and advertising on children in their homes;
- Monitoring mobile ads and applications that can be downloaded by children, which are both used as a new marketing strategy;
- Taking UK, Canada and Scandinavian countries as best practices, due to their effective implementation of legislation or measures protecting children from data collection from advertisers, and reducing the former’s access to inappropriate material;
- Researching further into age and gender differences in terms of understanding of and engagement with advertising;
- Regarding food marketing increasing need for more research into long term effects of marketing on children, and its role in interaction with food prices, health care systems and parenting culture.
More information about the literature review can be found here.