Friday, December 19, 2008

Pro or Anti Search Engine Advertisements?

This journal seems to have taken a turn toward examining the ethics of new media advertising as a whole. For the most part, many of the discussions within the class have been sort of one-sided. All in all, the class has--for the most part--agreed when it comes to ethics. I do not remember reading any posts that say "there's no immoral issues involved in marketing to children or minorities."

However, this week's discussion has taken a very interesting turn. The discussion was about advertorials, paid advertisements in search engines, and whether or not the practice of placing paid advertisements into search engines was ethical. At first, I figured it would be a discussion about how this type of advertising can be immoral if not used properly, but then I read the posts and it turns out that there's a wide variety of opinions when it comes to the issue of paid advertising and search engines. In order to develop a clearer analysis on this topic, we need to look at both sides of the argument.


Believe it or not, companies such as Google have to pay in order to run their search engines. With consumers using their searches for free, how can a company like Google or Yahoo! cover their internet expenses and make a profit? One solution that many search engines have discovered is allowing paid advertisements to appear on the results page. Companies will pay the search engine sites money for the priviledge of appearing on the page and for each time a user clicks on their link (McLaughlin, 2002). How profitable is this type of advertising? It is difficult to collect the actual numbers since companies such as Google remain silent about the statistics, but on average it is predicted that they generate over $3 billion in annual revenue (Karr, 2004). Trough this form of advertising, it helps to benefit both the advertisers through exposure and the search engine through revenue.

Another reason why this form of advertising may be seen as favorable is because of its appearance. The Federal Trade Commission has taken charge of evaluating search engine industries and demands that these industries provide “clear and conspicuous disclosure” of their search engine advertisements. Therefore, the more successful companies such as Google have decided to separate their results from their advertisements through colors and labeling (West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism, 2008).

A final argument that was mentioned was the idea of search results actually working as a form of information in itself. Advertorials take it a step further by infroming the user that "this is an advertiser-related feature which offers extra value via information and/or entertainment” (Creative formats: Impact and interaction, 2008). This way, the user gathers some benefit from reading the advertorial.


I mentioned earlier that some companies, such as Google, separate their searches from their advertisements in very clear ways. However, there are other websites such as Alta Vista where the searches and advertisements are more difficult to separate. One out of every six users can not tell the difference between a paid advertisement and a legitimate search result (West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism, 2008). Add to the fact that often times these paid advertisements are either inside the results or not clearly labeled as advertisements and you have a recipe for deception (McLaughlin, 2002).

Another argument against this type of advertising is the deception and loss of credibility that search engines receive once they are discovered to have accepted money from advertisers for appearances on result pages. Sixty percent of internet users did not have any knowledge of websites accepting fees from companies that paid for advertisements on the result pages. Along with this information, other companies such as Google keep their revenue counts a secret in terms of how much they make off of search engine advertisements (McLaughlin, 2002). With this type of secrecy, it becomes rather difficult to discern between what is legitimate and what is paid propoganda and this adds another level of difficulty when it comes to FTC regulations on paid advertisements within search engines.


For the most part, many of my fellow classmates within the discussion fell into the gray area. Some believed while this type of advertising can have its pitfalls, it is not necessarily the worst type of ethical violation within advertising. However, what I want to know is what you think about paid advertisements in search engine results. Do you think they help those that are looking for information? Do they annoy those that are not looking to purchase a product? Are they an ethical issue or just another thing to ignore while you are searching for information on a topic?
Creative formats: Impact and interaction. PPA Marketing. Retrieved December 18, 2008, from

Karr, R. (2004, April 14). Search engine wars: Making money off search. NPR. Retrieved December 16, 2008, from

McLaughlin, L. (2002). Straight story: Search engines. PC World.

West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism. Lesson 9: Walking the line: Eithics in new media IMC. Retrieved December 16, 2008, from

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Viral Videos

I have a trip coming up this weekend, so I have been rushing through my work, my homework, my papers, my travel advice book (which will be published around New Years), and have spent maybe a total of one hour watching television at most and that is while eating dinner. However, when the head honchos at my workplace are not around and I have a few moments to relax during lunch, I will occasionally pop onto YouTube or Hulu and watch a video. Most of these videos are usually professional music videos or snippets of television shows, but there is the occasional viral video that catches my eye.

What is a viral video? According to ZDNet, a viral video is "a video that spreads quickly via the Internet. It is often a short clip on a video sharing site such as YouTube that people reference in blogs, e-mails and instant messages" (ZDNet definition for: Viral video, 2008). Without using wikipedia, it is difficult to find other sources that discussed when viral video began and when it became popular, though some speculate that it was shortly before 2000 with the creation of flash animation. There were some of the earlier animations such as the "Dancing Baby", "The Hamster Dance", and "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" (Peters, 2007). Now, it has grown into an amazing world-wide phenomenon and has generated sites such as Youtube, JibJab, and has encouraged social sites such as Myspace and Facebook to add a section for viral videos.

What is the importanct of viral video when it comes to marketing? Marketers have caught on to the popularity of viral videos and marketers usually will not turn down a good opportunity to advertise their products. One of my favorite examples is the Hydro "Train Coaster" advertisement video they used in order to promote the power of future resources such as kids. The company is a major aluminum and energy supplier in Norway, but this video of a group of kids building a roller coaster out of train tracks has allowed them to win a gold medal from Europe's most competitive advertising championship called Epica (Our business, 2008; More gold for Hydro's train stunt film, 2007).

Now, let's say you are a new company or a company that does not want to risk everything on a video that may or may not become popular. What do you do? Well, you can do what Mentos did and take an already popular viral video and turn it into a promotional tool. Steve Spangler first started this craze in 2005 when he was on a television news network where he had a weekly segment and performed this experiment (Marketing that's hot, 2008). Mentos later on heard about this stunt and turned it into a campaign where they challenge their own customers to post their own videos for a prize. This boosted avenue by $10 million in free advertising, which means they received over half of their usual alotted amount of advertising dollars for free (Nauert, 2006).

Still nervous? If you are still feeling doubtful about the power of viral marketing, then you may want to take a look at these statistics (Viral marketing study, 2006):

* 89% of adults share content with friends, family and associates by e-mail
* 63% of the respondents share content at least once a week
* 25% share daily or almost daily
* 75% forward content up to six other people
* 89% have no adverse feelings to brand sponsorship

So, what are some of your favorite viral videos? Personally, I am a fan of the "Drama Prairie Dog" and the "John McCaing Gets Barack Rolled". I'm also a huge fan of Mortal Kombat viral videos as well, but for censorship purposes I will withhold the link from this entry. Feel free to list your favorite viral videos and who knows, maybe you will see your favorite video reenacted or see a commercial based off of your favorite video.
Marketing that's hot. WebProNews Video. Retrieved December 17, 2008, from

More gold for Hydro's train stunt film. Hydro. Retrieved December 17, 2008, from

Nauert, H. (2006, June 14). The Mentos an Diet Coke sensation. ABC News. Retrieved December 17, 2008, from

Our business. Hydro. Retrieved December 17, 2008, from

Peters, A. (2007, July 7). Pick of the week: The history of viral video. APLink. Retrieved December 17, 2008, from

Viral marketing study. Justilien. Retrieved December 17, 2008, from

ZDNet definition for: Viral video. ZDNet. Retrieved December 17, 2008, from

Monday, December 15, 2008

Advertorials and Paid Adveritsements

How many of you remember your school yearbooks? Well, when I was younger I would ask my parents to buy me a yearbook and it would cost around $65.00. When my parents looked through the yearbook, they were shocked to see how many advertisements were listed within the yearbook. "Why should we have to pay for a book full of advertisements?! When I was in high school, the school banned yearbook advertising because they didn't want the students to pay for advertisements." Yearbook staffers and companies defend these actions by claiming that advertisements keep prices low.

The world of advertisements is blending with everyday society more and more with each passing day. With people and businesses looking to save money or cut production costs, many businesses are starting to utilize the money-making power of advertisements. One high school teacher in San Diego decided to raise extra printing money for his tests by placing advertisments on his students tests. Another school in Florida sold McDonalds advertising space on school report cards (Teacher sells ad space on test, 2008).

While some people don't see the harm in this form of advertising, some psychologists believe that advertisements end up affecting children subconsciously (Teacher sells ad space on test, 2008). Advertisemetns are starting to become even harder to avoid and they are becoming more difficult to spot with search engine placements and advertorials. What is an advertorial? An advertorial is "an advertisement designed to simulate editorial content, while at the same time offering valid information to your prospective clients." Since consumers are more likely to believe editorial content than advertisements, this type of advertising leads the consumer to believe the claims that are made (What is an advertorial, 2008).

What about paid placement in search engines? How many of us have ever clicked on a link expecting to seek answers about a search and suddenly realizing that what you clicked on was an advertisement? You are not alone. One out of every six internet users could not tell the difference between an unbiased search and a paid search advertisement. Due to this confusion, paid search engine ads tend to have a click-through rate of over 18 percent in comparison to natural listings which only receive a click through rate of 4 percent (West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism, 2008).

With the possible ethics issues of deceit within advertorials and paid seearch engine advertisements, how can companies avoid poor corporate reputations and censorship from the Federal Trade commission? For paid search engine advertisements, the FTC requires these ads to have "clear and conspicuous disclosure" of advertising on search engines (West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism, 2008). For example, on Google there is a separate listing on the side that says "Sponsored Links". In terms of advertorials, there are a few suggestions for clarifying the meaning of advertorials (West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism, 2008):

* Use "paid advertising" labels in order to specify that it is an advertisement.
* Make the advertorial distinctive in order to separate it from the actual editorials.
* Use a third party disclaimer to show that it is a paid advertisement and not an editorial created by the news source.

Teacher sells ad space on test. Mom Logic. Retrieved December 15, 2008, from

West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism. Lesson 9: Walking the line: Ethics in New Media IMC. Retrieved December 15, 2008, from

What is an advertorial? Retrieved December 15, 2008, from

Sunday, December 14, 2008

What Online Consumers Want

As I mentioned in a past entry, the online world is becoming a very important medium for marketers. With online sales predicted to hit $230 billion of the total sales made by the end of the year, it is very important to make sure that you have a winning website that will reach the consumers (West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism, 2008). We last discussed the importance of websites, but there's another aspect to online marketing that is even more important than the design and equal to the importance of the product.

I'm talking about the consumer. It's common sense that without a consumer there would be no sale. With this in mind, the question is how do we get inside of the consumer's head to know what they want. Are they interested in the product? The design? The contents? Knowing what the consumer wants and how to persuade them that you have what they need is vital to any good business. So, how do you get into the consumer's mind?

The first step is to figure out your target audience. Who do you want to sell the product to? I know, many of you wouldn't mind selling your products or services to everyone, but for the sake of saving money so you don't spend a ton of money on mass marketing, the best way to figure out the mind of the consumer is to identify who is the consumer that is most likely to purchase the product or services? This identification includes age, sex, ethnicity, income, education, etc. Here are some questions to ask in terms of a target audience (Lake, 2008):

* Who is your target audience?
* Where is your target audience located?
* What do they think about your current brand?
* What would you like them to think about your brand?
* How will you attract them to you products or services?
* Who is your competition?

Once you understand your target audience, you need to consider what draws your target audience to a product. For example, the most profitable age demographic according to many marketers is the Y Generation which has the average spending power of $90 a week (Cozzalio, 2008). So, what does a member of Generation Y look for when it comes to purchases? A few key components that interest a member of Generation Y are: speed, individuality, and personalization (O'Donnell, 2006). This generation is not willing to wait on a slow website to load, so quick website speeds is vital to keep the attention of a potential consumer. This generation deems individuality and uniqueness to be very important (Cozzalio, 2008). Therefore, a website that allows a person to take charge and personalize their experience to their own individual preferences is more likely to gain sales than a website that gives these consumers very little choice (O'Donnell, 2006).

After discovering what draws your target demographic into purchasing a product or service, then you need to adapt to their needs. If your audience is older or has trouble reading, then you may want to make your site simple and easy to read. If your audience is aimed toward a specific ethnic group, then make sure the images and content relate to this group and not become too generalized or too stereotypical. Either way, getting into the minds of the consumers is a very important part of online e-commerce.

Cozzalio, D. (2008). Meet generation y. Siskiyous College. Retrieved December 14, 2008, from

Lake, L. (2008). Focusing on your target audience. About. Retrieved December 14, 2008, from

West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism. Lesson 8: Creative considerations in emerging media. Retrieved December 14, 2008, from

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Website Design

How many of you have ever judged whether or not to used a website due to the basic design and information of the website itself? I know recently I signed up for a couple of websites in order to purchase Christmas gifts, and there were some websites where the simple design or name of the site made me question its validity. I will give you two examples and would like to hear what you think:

Example 1:

Example 2

Which site are you more likely to purchase an iPhone 3G from? I'm not purchasing one, but if I were to purchase one I would trust the site from example 2 more than example 1. Trust is a very important aspect of any business, especially when it comes to online sites. In 2006, the estimate of total losses due to identity theft reached over $15.4 billion dollars, which is a dramatic decrease from a few years ago, but it is still a rather high number (FTC-2006 identity theft survey report, 2007). With consumers becoming more informed of the different styles of identity theft, online consumers have become more discriminating when it comes to what websites they trust for their purchases.
What does this mean for businesses? First of all, online businesses can relax a little in regards to consumers not purchasing as much online due to these sorts of dangers. E-commerce is growing at a rapid rate and it is expected to account for almost 10 percent of U.S. sales--or $230 billion--by the end of the year (West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism, 2008). With the United States officially in a recession, many shoppers are turning to the convenience and low costs of shopping online for merchandise rather than wrestling through the hoards of shoppers and full parking lots and waiting in line for almost an hour before making a purchase (Robbins, 2008). This means that websites such as Ebay will have competition from both small businesses and large corporations looking to reach the internet niche market.
What can a company do in order to improve sales? One important aspect discussed amongst the class in general was the aspect of internet design. First impressions tend to matter when it comes to a user searching the site, and usually a consumer will make his/her decision about a site within 1/20th of a second (West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism, 2008)! Don't believe me? How many of you have ever saw a site you could not stand to look at and still read it or trust whatever information is listed on the site? The asthetics of a site do matter and this is what a company needs to consider when they are deciding how to create a website that will best represent the company. One important aspect of web design that businesses need to remember is that--regardless of how much you plan--you will not be able to satisfy everyone since humans are often subjective creatures (Lee, 2007).
With that in mind, there are a few things that can generally impact the revenue created by a website. A couple of aspects to website content are information and entertainment (West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism, 2008). With both of these parts blending into one another, it is vital to decide what is the right amount of information and entertainment for a business site. While you want to avoid having too little information on your site, having too much information or clutter can drastically affect sales as well. In one study, when the format of a website was changed from one column to two columns in order to fit more information on one site, the sales generated from the site failed by almost half! Imagine one little change such as a second column created a 50 percent decrease in online sales (Usborne, 2005).
What can a company do in order to increase online revenue without risking possible losses? First of all, a pre-test should be run of a website before it is relased. A pre-test will inform the business on how a sample number of cosumers react to the website and what changes need to be made in order to improve the functionality of the site (Usborne, 2005). Secondly, hiring a professional web designer can take the burden off of the company's shoulders and cover even more helpful tips such as (Learn about website design, 2008):
* Satisfying customers
* Attracting search engines
* Avoid technical glitches
Online shopping is becoming a very profitable business for those who want to buy things most stores do not have, for those who are looking for a good sale, or even for those who do not have the time to deal with a store that is crowded with shoppers. The way a site looks has a lot to do with site traffic and whether or not a consumer will trust a site enough to purchase an item from the company. If businesses hire an expert web designer and test run their sites before releasing them to the public, then they have a greater chance of generating site traffic and catching errors before they lose the loyalty of the consumers.
What are you waiting for? It's almost Christmas! Go do some holiday shopping and support your favorite businesses. Though, if you want I can also introduce you to a site where you can make homemade crafts and fight the power of materialism ;).

FTC-2006 identity theft survey report. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved December 13, 2008, from
Learn about website design. Network Solutions. Retrieved December 13, 2008, from
Lee, S. (2007, June 26). Human-to-human design. A List Apart. Retrieved December 13, 2008, from
Robbins, T. (2008, November 25). More online holiday shoppers expected this year. NPR. Retrieved December 13, 2008, from
Usborne, N. (2005, November 8). Design choices can cripple a website. A List Apart. Retrieved December 13, 2008, from
West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism. Lesson 8: Creative considerations in emerging media. Retrieved December 13, 2008, from

Friday, December 12, 2008

Online Advertisements

We live in a world where everything is rushed. Everyone wants everything now and they do not want to wait. There are more things that we want to do, more shows or music videos that we want to see, more live bands and adventures that we want to experience. Somewhere in between the hustle and bustle of this world, we occasionally take a nap, read a book, or hop onto a social network or any other interactive website in order to talk to friends or watch a video.

So, why is it that, knowing we live such busy lives, online businesses want to invade our down time and cram advertisements into our space. Log onto Myspace and you will sometimes see an advertisement that takes up the entire page before you reach your homepage. Download the widget and your entire page will be surrounded by an advertisement for JC Penny when you just want to check the weather. Now there’s an innovative tool where all you have to do is hover over a link and suddenly a preview pops up of a website. This can come in handy when you are at work and want to make sure a site is work friendly before clicking on it, but when you are on news sites where this type of activity can actually slow down the website (Foremski, 2005). For instance, I was on a website and was trying to scroll down. Well, when I scrolled down using the arrow keys, my mouse accidentally moved over an advertisement, which slowed my computer down while it tried to load the rollover advertisement. It could be my computer, but this is just one example of how advertisements are starting to find ways around the system.

In the old days—about a decade ago—most users would have to worry about neon banners flashing and alerting them that they won some fantasy prize or they would have to worry about having a screen flooded with six or seven pop-up items before they could view their site. Many businesses have used these types of advertisements in the past, but the question that everyone wonders about these advertisements is: Does this form of advertising really work? In terms of pop-up advertisements, they were tested against banner advertisements and were 50 percent more likely to be noticed in comparison to banners. However, this is both a gift and a curse since the study found that pop-up advertisements were considered 100 percent more intrusive into the viewer’s Internet activities and were looked unfavorably upon (Jackson, 2001). In terms of banner advertisements, there seems to be a more favorable view on this type of advertisement over pop-up advertisements. There are no blockers for banners, and they are easier to sneak onto a website and you cannot exit out of a banner like you can a pop-up advertisement. Overall, they are seen as less intrusive, but with the exception of the flashing banners they are fairly easy to overlook (Kamborj, 2008).

With these types of complaints from consumers that are sick and tired of seizure-inducing ads and a computer full of pop-ups, you would think that companies would relax their attempts at online advertising. Nope, instead the field of online advertising is boosting its attempts and the online advertising market should double to 18 percent within six years. With more than 52 percent of people spending more time online than watching television, marketers are evaluating this trend and are now seeking new ways of reaching the growing amount of online consumers (Online advertising ‘growing fast’, 2007). Now, I am not entirely against online advertisements, but I do believe that there should be a limit to how much annoyance they can cause. I do not mind banners about legitimate businesses, but banners that claim “You are the 1,000,000 customer! Pick up your free laptop now!” and then they either fail to mention the circumstances or place in small font that there are conditions that apply, this becomes quite an annoyance. Especially when they try to use this technique in order to get innocent people’s e-mail addresses so they can expand their spam count.

I do believe there needs to be a line that is drawn when it comes to online marketing. Some companies, such as Yahoo!, will allow companies to take over their website for the day such as Adidas. Depending on how the users relate to Adidas, this could either create a boost for both Adidas and Yahoo, or it could create a loss for either company. Users tend to be subjective, so a person looking for good athletic shoes or an Adidas fan might see the site and think, “I like those shoes!” or “That seems interesting, I’ll check them out,” and it may help business (Lee, 2007). On the other hand, you might have a Nike fan who looks at this site and becomes offended. It may not fully deter them from the site, but it could impact page views and whether or not they decide to use Yahoo’s other services.

I do believe in some forms of online advertising. After all, this type of media is still relatively new and contains a load of marketing potential. But I do want to ask all of you a question: Do you believe these new innovations in advertisements are going a bit too far? Would you rather be able to go to the sites you want to go to without worrying about rollover advertisements, having to click “skip this advertisement”, or waiting for the commercial to play before you can see the video?
Foremski, T. (2005, December 6). The new media needs new types of innovation—not more banner ads. SiliconValleyWatcher. Retrieved December 12, 2008, from

Jackson, J. (2001, July 2). While pop-up advertisements are more likely to be noticed, consumers tend to think poorly of the advertisers. Does the extra visibility pay off? Retrieved December 12, 2008, from

Kamborj, D. (2008, October 10). Effectiveness of a banner advertising. Article Base. Retrieved December 12, 2008, from

Lee, S. (2007, June 26). Human-to-human design. A List Apart. Retrieved December 12, 2008, from

Online advertising ‘growing fast’. BBC News. Retrieved December 12, 2008, from

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Brainstorming Session

For class, I was asked to give an update on my blog project. In terms of site visits, it looks as though I am averaging about six a day, but in terms of actual responses to my posts and generating larger amounts of traffic it seems to appear less than satisfactory. However, I like to think of this as more of a learning lession in marketing. This means I need to think outside the box of normal advertising and start getting creative.

One idea I had for generating more traffic to the site is to create an interesting video and post it on the streaming video sites such as YouTube, Hulu, and Myspace. Streaming video is becoming a popular form of advertising since it's growing popularity has resulted in video streaming becoming as effective as television advertisements (Independent study confirms effectiveness..., 2004). I have Pinnacle 10 editing software, so I need to either find my video camera and make an entry through real life footage or create my own dramatized footage through video I find online.

Another idea is to join in with cross-promotional advertising. One form is to create a quiz called "What Type of Media Are You?" in order to fit into the theme and then figure out a way to link the quiz back to my profile. At first, I was thinking that possibly I can send the format to others blogs and have them add it to their blog in order to create more interactivity between their blogs and their users (while adding a link to my blog in case they want to know who made the quiz), but seeing as how it may not be enough of a benefit for other blogs, I need to think of another form of cross-promotional marketing.

I'm mostly brainstorming ways to build traffic at the moment. I could try to join Google AdSense. I could add more interactive activities such as polls and quizzes to the blog and publicize it on social sites such as Facebook and Myspace. LOL, or maybe I can pull a Stephen Colbert and declare war on another blog. I'm looking at you...Apple Blog! I shall continue to brainstorm ideas and I'm willing to accept any other ideas you have for me.

Independent study confirms effectivness of streaming ads on MSN Video is on par with TV ads. Microsoft. Retrieved December 7, 2008, from

New Media & Minorities

When it comes to marketing, there's many different niches and aspects of marketing: age, gender, religion, etc. However one discussion in relation to new media that has recently surfaced was the idea of marketing to ethnicities. Currently, the ethnic population within the U.S. plans to rise from 24% from 1990 up to 37% by the year 2020. With ethnic shoppers spending almost $2 trillion dollars each year, businesses are looking to reach out and encourage this niche to spend their money within these businesses (West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism, 2008).

So, how do these businesses plan on reaching this customers? Well, according to Sonya Suarez-Hammond, director of multicultural marketing for the Yankelovich research firm, "Brands must show that they understand the ethnic consumer by crafting culturally appropriate and targeted messaging that speaks directly to them" (Reyes, 2006). One way that businesses attempt to reach out to ethnic shoppers is through new media marketing efforts. The popularity of the internet amongst ethnic shoppers is rising. For example, there are now 18.4 million African Americans that use the internet and over 60 percent of the adult Hispanic American population uses goes online (Williamson, 2005; West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism, 2008). With these facts in mind, marketers are now trying to utilize the marketing potential of the internet and figure out a way to reach the ethnic consumers.

Sounds easy, right? Actually, it is not as easy as most people believe. While there are statistics showing percentages of minorities hired to work within specific businesses, and while there are webpages on the business sites that offer information about hiring a diverse group of people or promoting scholarships, one student stated that there was actually very little to be found in terms of Fortune 100 companies actually marketing to these different ethnic groups. I searched five or six sites myself before I could find a site that I believed utilized the ideas of ethnic marketing. There are some sites, such as Coca-Cola's My Coke Rewards program which not only promotes Hispanic items, but also has a separate Spanish site as well (Coca-Cola North America announces launch of "my coke rewards", 2006).

However, just having a Spanish website does not mean you are effectively marketing to the Hispanic American audience. For example, Walgreens has a Spanish site, and while I do feel as though it is ver effective in terms of helping Spanish-speaking Hispanic Americans gather information about their health and well-being, it does not accurately market the other items that Walgreens has in its stores. Check out the English version of the site and you will see promotions for electronics, toys, health & beauty supplies, and other assortments of items that are not necessarily health related. However, the Spanish version of this site is entirely health-based. It's not a bad thing in terms of ethics and in terms of helping others, but if Walgreens' goal is to get them to shop for all of the items within the store then they might want to look into a more effective website (and making the Spanish link more noticeable couldn't hurt either). Also, with the younger Hispanic American generation preferring to speak English, the Spanish websites may soon become ineffective at luring potential Hispanic American shoppers (Del Valle, 2005).

In a separate discussion relating to K-Mart, another student pondered whether or not K-Mart was ever criticized for not having a more diverse toy inventory. Yes, K-Mart does sell African American and Hispanic American dolls and other ethnically aimed toys, but in terms of ethnicity there are other groups that these businesses should focus on as well. For example, while Asian Americans are not as populous within the U.S. as African Americans and Hispanic Americans, they are increasing percentage wise faster than African Americans (Minckler, 2008). While some companies, such as Mattel, have developed toys based on a vast array of ethnicities, there is always room for improvement in marketing to these different groups.

I remember as a little girl playing with a Polynesian and German Barbie doll. I had a few blond Barbies, but I also had a few African American Barbie dolls, I think one Hispanic doll, and I remember owning a few brown-haired Barbies since the looked like me. I always wanted a Native American/American Indian Barbie since I am part Cherokee, and even though I'm not considered as such by the Government's standards, I still smile when my friends look at pictures of women from different tribes and then they look at me and yell, "YOU LOOK JUST LIKE HER! EXCEPT WHITE!" I think it could be a difficult task to market to all the different mixes of ethnicities we have in this nation, but the companies should get a head start on trying to reach other groups while remaining within the ethical boundaries of avoiding too many stereotypes.

Coca-Cola North America announces launch of "my coke rewards". Access My Library. Retrieved December 7, 2008, from

Del Valle, E. (2005, March 28). The new Hispanic market. Hispanic Marketing & Public Relations. Retrieved December 7, 2008, from

Minckler, D. (2008, May 14). U.S. minority population continues to grow. Retrieved December 7, 2008, from

Reyes, S. (2006, August 16). Brand loyalty strong among minorities. Marketing y Medios. Retrieved December 7, 2008, from

West Virginia University. P.I. Reed School of Journalism. Lesson 7: The young and the rest but not less: Targeting youth and multicultural audiences with emerging media. Retrieved December 7, 2008, from

Williamson, D.A. (2005, November 4). Marketing to African Americans online. iMediaConnection. Retrieved December 7, 2008, from

Saturday, December 6, 2008

New Media Sales & Ratings

After the craziness of the day, I occasionally sit down and watch an hour of television. I was able to catch an episode of "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central. In case you don't know what "The Colbert Report" is, it's a late-night news show that parodies pundit news shows such as FOX News. This episode of "The Colbert Report" started off with Stephen Colbert's announcement of the sale of his special "A Colbert Chrismas" CD. However, he brought up something very interesting about the new way we measure sales. On his show, he announced that his sales were only #16 in rank while Kanye West's "808's & Heartbreak" was listed as #1. So, he decided to use the show as a personal advertisement by challenging his guests to make him #1 and beat Kanye West by purchasing his CD at a specific time and date (Colbert declares war on Kanye, 2008).

The little wheels in my head started turning after I watched this episode. Technology has changed rather rapidly since the 80s and with all of the positives there have been a few negatives in terms of ranking. Usually, television shows are ranked based on the Nielsen Media Research ranking system. This is the basic way that Nielsen ratings work (How do television rankings work..., 2008):

"Nielsen uses a technique called statistical sampling to rate the shows -- the same technique that pollsters use to predict the outcome of elections. Nielsen creates a "sample audience" and then counts how many in that audience view each program. Nielsen then extrapolates from the sample and estimates the number of viewers in the entire population watching the show."

So, where are the negatives in terms of the Nielsen rating system? With the popularity of internet video streaming, television ratings were starting to drop. At first, the television networks were hoping this drop was due to the changes made in how the Nielsen ratings were evaluating shows and also due to the DVR, which records telelvision shows for later viewing. However, Nielsen refuted this claim by stating that it was due to actual viewers watching less television (Blodget, 2007). Another reason why television viewership dropped was due to viewers preference in using the internet to watch their television shows and enjoy other forms of entertainment. In fact, 92 percent of internet users claim to use the internet as a form of entertainment on a weekly basis. The largest change in viewership was with audiences under 35 years of age (Emigh, 2008).

With this new medium for watching televisions and movies, how can Nielsen and broadcast corporations keep track of what the audience is watching? Nielsen recently formed the Nielsen Online service in order to keep track of internet activity such as website rantings, advertising, videos, and online consumer behavior in general (Rappa, 2008). Through programs such as the Nielsen//NetRatings, researchers can now compare and contrast the number of users using each medium and the amount of time spend doing which activities. The service goes a step further when in May 2008 the Nielsen//NetRatings group released its first Three Screen Report in May 2008. This report is used to summarize "the amount of activity, including video viewing, which occurs on a monthly basis by the average user over
television, Internet and mobile phones" (Nielsen's three screen report, 2008).

This tool can be vital to marketers since new media marketing is quite new. These statistics can be used to evaluate how a company should spend its marketing dollars in order to reach audiences. With the wide variety of venues to utilize within new media, marketers need to learn which forms of new media are more marketable than others. This is why marketers should consider looking into these statistical reports and why it is vital that Nielsen and other statistical rating systems should attempt to adapt to the ever changing world of technology.

So, how did Stephen Colbert do? It turns out that Kanye West is still beating Stephen Colbert in sales. However, I'm sure Stephen will not let this stop him from promoting his new Christmas CD nor will it deter him from creating new battles and try to show America that this nation really is a Colbert Nation. Goodnight!
Blodget, H. (2007, August 27). Nielsen:"Drop in TV ratings is because people are watching less TV." Silicon Alley Insider. Retrieved December 6, 2008, from

Colbert declares war on Kanye. Red Eye, Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 6, 2008, from,0,2500141.story

Emigh, J. (2008, November 25). Analysts: Consumers drop TV, turn to Internet for entertainment. BetaNews. Retrieved December 6, 2008, from

How do television rankings work? How do they figure out how many people are watching a show? HowStuffWorks. Retrieved December 6, 2008, from

Nielsen's three screen report. Nielsen. Retrieved December 6, 2008, from

Rappa, M. (2008). Case study: Nielsen Online. Digital Enterprise. Retrieved December 6, 2008, from

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Short Films and Advertising

The wonderful world of short films! See, my true love of Communications has always been media and with my love of media I have created short films ranging from inspirational music videos to very corny comedies. I have always been a fan of short films and videos with a plot since they tend to have a story to tell. To me, it doesn't matter how pretty the actresses or singers are, or how good they dance, all that matters in this visual media is the plot, the theme, and how well it is portrayed.

For example, how many of you have watched Nickelback's "Someday" video? If you haven't, I highly recommend it since it is one of the best musical short films I have ever seen. Seriously, go check it it now! I'll wait.... There's no random dance scene or questions such as "why is she on another planet?" or "why is he surrounded by flashing lights?" It follows the basic plot to any good short film (West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism, 2008):

1) A protagonist- Who is the main character?
2) A goal- What do they want to achieve
3) Action- What do they do to achieve it?
4) Conflict/Obstacle- What stands in their way?
5) Climax- Where does the story build?
6) Resolution/Denouement- How does it end?

I could talk forever about the subject of great film, plots, cinematography, Aristotle drama, etc. However, I bet you are wondering what in the world does this have to do with new media and marketing? Audiences are starting to become bored with commercials. Consumers have become so desensitized with the commercial-heavy media that advertisers have to continually push the envelope to draw in more consumers and become memorable ('Bleeping' ads proving a winner with U.S.audiences, 2008).

When it comes to gathering the attention of the masses, advertisers have a limited number of ideas they can try. They could use "shock value" and push the envelope on sexuality, violence, crude language, etc. They can try to create something unique such as the Pepsi Cola campaign where they had Beyoncee, Pink, and Britney Spears sing a cover of Queen's "We Will Rock You" (Durrett, 2004). With the popularity of viral video, many companies have turned to utilizing the marketing potential of short films.

One very interesting point that was made during the discussion on short films was the aspect of ethics. Usually, most people would think, "It's a short film. It's fiction. What does ethics have to do with it?" Well, the difference between a short film for entertainment and a short film for advertisement is that advertisements are suppose to convince a consumer to purchase a product and/or service. Two videos that were brought up in the conversation was the "Evolution" film by Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty and the "Citizen/Soldier" musical short film by the National Guard (song performed by Three Doors Down).

Dove's short film goes through a common process of editing to help transform a normal person into beautiful model for a billboard advertisement. The Campaign for Real Beauty is suppose to encourage women to see the beauty within themselves and to criticize the media's portrayal of unrealistic beauty. However, one ethical problem that Dove currently faces with this type of campaign involves its own unnatural portrayals of "normal" women. Pascal Dangin, a photo retoucher for photographer Annie Lebovitz, claimed that he did some retouches on these "natural" photographs to "keep everyone’s skin and faces showing the mileage but not looking unattractive." Dove would not deliver a statment on the issue, but these contradiction actions does create a few questions about the morality of a company that will use the same tactics that their campaign is supposedly trying to criticize (Dove's 'real beauty' campaign isn't real, 2008).

If this does not seem like a big enough ethical debate for you, then lets take the film created to advertise for the National Guard. I must admit, I enjoy Three Doors Down and have been a fan of theirs since the song "Kryptonite". My views and politics about the war in Iraq should not matter in this discussion. What I want to focus on is the same thing that many within the discussion were pondering: Is it ethical to try and sell young people on the idea of going to war? As a couple of individuals mentioned, yes the Armed Forces do need troops and advertising can be a good way to recruit the masses. However, many criticize this film and the other tactics the National Guard uses to recruit troops claiming that these tactics “glamorize warfare, omit vital information and fail to point out the risks and responsibilities associated with a Forces career,” (Harding, 2008).

When I first read this discussion, an episode of the Simpsons popped into my head where Bart joins a boy band called the Party Posse. They sing a song called "Drop Da Bomb" and within the video are beautiful ladies dressed in veils and bikin's singing "yvan eht nioj" which is later discoverd in the episode to say "join the navy". I couldn't find a decent video clip, but the song is on youtube if you want to look for it. However, I think this fits well with the ethical discussion of the National Guard's short film. The short film does not go as far as the Party Posse video, but it does lead one to wonder where the Armed Forces should draw the line when it comes to this kind of advertising and recruitment

I can not wait to hear your comments on these ethical issues or on short films in general. I believe in the power of short films and advertising, but at the same time I find the topic of ethics to be interesting as well. Has anyone seen any interesting short films that they want to share? Feel free to comment if you have.

'Bleeping ads proving a winner with U.S. audiences. UTalkMarketing. Retrieved November 30, 2008, from

Dove's 'real beauty' campaign isn't real! The Cut. Retrieved November 30, 2008, from

Durrett, M. (2004, January 30). We will rock you--Pepsi gladiator commercial. Retrieved November 30, 2008, from

Harding, T. (2008, January 8) Report claims Army ads 'glamorize war.’ The Telegraph. Retrieved on November 30, 2008 from

West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism (2008, August 18). Lesson 6: The reel deal: Short films & streaming media. Retrieved November 30, 2008, from

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Blog Advertising Results

First of all, I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I know I had a wonderful Thanksgiving and took part in a very interesting discussion about short films and advertising. I shall make an entry about this discussion shortly, so keep your eyes open for an interesting discussion on advertisements in the form of short films.

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to develop a few ways to build traffic for this blog. At first, I was a bit shocked to advertise outside of the class, but I know that blogs have often given me vital information for my concepts, so if I can help others with my posts then all the better. Here are the three different forms of advertising for this blog site that were considered:

One form of creating buzz is through viral marketing. Viral marketing is basically any online strategy created by the marketer that encourages users to spread the message being promoted to others (West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism, 2008). One example of viral marketing that can be used to market a blog or any product is to create an interesting and/or entertaining viral video that captures the audience’s attention and promotes the blog. For example, when the company that produces Mentos decided to take advantage of the Mentos and Diet Coke experiment by creating a viral video contest, the company gained over $10 million in free advertising (Fueling the Mentos and Diet Coke explosion, 2006). By creating and/or hosting interesting viral videos and promoting them through sites such as YouTube and other social networks, the blogger can raise blog views and create an audience.

Another way to promote blog traffic is by posting the blog site on blog directories and search engines. Blog directories such as and lists your blog on their directories so individuals can search through the directory to find blog and/or information the user wants to read (Blogcatalog, 2008). Another blog network to use is Blogburst, “which syndicates content across American newspaper’s websites,” though this type of networking can have a downside since the blogger loses certain rights to their work. A blog carnival can is also a form of promoting not only the individual’s blog, but the blog carnival that the blogger posts on will also promote other blogs within the network (Hung, 2007).

A third option to promote a blog is to spend money on buying a site and advertising. One example is to buy a domain name and host a blog on this site rather than a hosted site that does not allow the user to use a specific domain name (Odden, 2006). Another form of advertising is through Google AdSense, where an individual or business advertises through Google which places ads on other websites and the individual and/or business earns money. These ads are only placed on other pages in which the content relates to the individual and/or business site (What is Google AdSense, 2008).

The first option I have decided to try for marketing this blog is the more realistic approach of using search engines and directories. The first site I used was Yahoo! Search Engine. I submitted my site under the free search engine listings and it actually said that it may take weeks before it is listed. Which has been a disappointment, but as a marketer there are other options available.

The second option I used was the ever popular Google. I used the free service and while I am now contemplating adding the Google AdSense to my arsenal of marketing tools, I wanted to give free advertising a try. I also used the Google Webmaster Tools to add crawl stats and subscriber stats. These stats can come in handy for when I want to check to see page activity. My site is still listed among the "low" ranking since last week, but I do hope to build these ranks even more by posting on a more organized schedule.

Due to the low traffic, I decided recently to add my blog to the blog directories in hopes of boosting traffic. The first site I tried was the Blog Hub since it was considered to be one of the top twenty blog directories (Baker, 2007). Another site I recently loaded my blog link to was Bloggernity. I am thinking about possibly incorporating other methods such as viral video, short-film advertising, and possibly partnering with another blog in order to team up for cross-promotional advertising (my favorite kind of advertising).

If anyone has any tips/suggestions please let me know. Should I join Google AdSense? Or will the addition of these types of advertisements cause the blog to lose the credibility it has?
Baker, L. (2007, November 20). 20 essential blog directories to submit your blog to. Search Engine Journal. Retrieved November 29, 2008, from

Blogcatalog. Retrieved November 29, 2008, from

Fueling the Mentos and Diet Coke explosion. OmniNerd. Retrieved November 29, 2008, from

Hung, T. (2007, January 11). How to market your blog in 2007. ProBlogger. Retrieved November 29, 2008, from

Odden, L. (2006, June 15). 25 tips for marketing your blog. Top Rank Online Marketing. Retrieved November 29, 2008, from

West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism. (2008, August 18). Lesson 3: Creating buzz: Viral marketing, crowdsourcing & blogs. Retrieved November 29, 2008, from

What is Google AdSense? Google. Retrieved November 29, 2008, from

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Television On The Internet

Remember the old days where if you wanted to watch a show, but were too busy to see it during it's regular time, you either had to tape it or you ended up missing it and have to depend on reruns? Remember the days when Tivo was this amazing machine that recorded your shows while you were gone and you could come home and watch what you recorded? Well, ladies and gentlemen, there is a new form of watching shows and it's called...drum-roll please...the Internet.

Now, before you pull out your torches and pitchforks and start calling the FCC for illegal downloads, there is something we need to discuss first. Yes, I know there is a debate going on about whether or not it's right to watch television via the internet. However, before you start pillaging Hulu and burning YouTube at the stake, we should look at the pros and cons of this type of medium.

In November 2007, the Writers Guild of America officially declared a strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers when both members failed to create a new agreement after the old agreement expired. Part of the reason was due to the argument that writers should be paid more for movies and television shows that went to DVD along with movies and shows that were broadcast over the internet (Cieply, 2007).

With the fear of numerous shows halting production due to the lack of writers, one man decided to take the bull by the horns and find a loophole. David Letterman, a late-night talkshow host on CBS and owner of World Wide Pants, Inc., decided to step in and hold a special discussion between his company--which owns both his own Late Show and the Late Late Show w/ Craig Ferguson--and the Writers Guild. The big discussion was about how writers would be paid for movies and shows that were broadcast on new media such as the Internet. However, Letterman and the guild came to a separate agreement: CBS will continue to hold the digital rights to both shows, but Letterman's World Wide Pants, Inc. will reimburse the writers in full for any money that CBS makes off of the new media format. The writer's agreed and Letterman and Ferguson were able to return to work eight weeks later with their writers while other networks had to wait even longer since they were owned by the official networks (which were the WGA's opposition) (Farhi, 2007).

Originally, watching downloaded or streaming television on the computer was considered illegal. In some cases, it may still be considered illegal if it is being distributed by an outside party rather than by the official company. You also have companies such as Viacom who demanded that any Viacom and/or subsidiary videos be removed from YouTube's server since Viacom did not originally see the marketing potential behind having videos online (Viacom demands for YouTube to remove unauthorized videos, 2007). However, more and more companies are starting to see the profitable potential of hosting shows on their sites.

For example, hosts videos from networks such as FOX and NBC. The difference is that Hulu uses paid advertisments that users have to watch in order to see the rest of the video (Deleon, 2008). On the CBS site, users now have to watch commercials--such as the Ford Flex--in order to see videos on the site. Even Viacom, who earlier removed all Viacom-affliated videos from YouTube, is now hosting full episodes on some of their websites such as Comedy Central.

So, does this mean that streaming video and video websites are legal? Not quite. It depends on who is distributing the videos and whether or not it is an act of copyright infringement. Also, there are some countries--such as England--that consider video streaming online to be illegal since many users do not pay a television license to watch streaming video. However, I guess it depends upon what is within the legalities of the user and the company. The safest thing to do is to watch the shows when they come on television--so the Nielsen Ratings will stop having a heart attack over low ratings because of more internet television watchers--and avoid online video. However, if you want to watch video online, go for it, but make sure you do not live in a place that requires a television license nor should you upload full episodes or seasons onto YouTube. Just to be on the safe side.
Cieply, M. (2007, November 5). Writers begin strike as talks break off. New York Times. Retrieved November 23, 2008, from

Deleon, N. (2008, November 17). Why is Hulu more valuable to advertisers than YouTube? CrunchGear. Retrieved November 23, 2008, from

Farhi, P. (2007, December 29). Letterman and writers strike deal, gives CBS the edge. Washington Post. Retrieved November 23, 2008, from

Viacom demands for YouTube to remove unauthorized videos. International Hearld Tribune. Retrieved November 23, 2008, from

Mobile Marketing

I remember when I was given my first mobile phone. It was from T-Mobile and it was a "pay as you go" phone that my friend in England gave me since all the college kids used texting and mobile phones to contact one another. Then, this past summer I finally purchased my first cell phone from Verizon. It is a Motorola RAZR with a limited amount of text messages alotted per month. It's amazing how much phones have changed within over a century, but what very few people think about is how much marketing has changed in comparison of the times.

When we think of new media, we usually think of web pages, streaming videos, banners, etc. However, mobile marketing is starting to take hold with the popularity of mobile phones and texting on the rise. One reason for the recent rise in mobile marketing is the number of mobile registrants. There are over 3.3 billion mobile phone subscriptions and more than half of world-wide subscriptions have text messaging capabilities (West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism, 2008). For those interested in marketing to the profitable Generation Y, over fifty percent of teens own a mobile phone and a quarter of all 18-24 year olds own a phone with internet access (Krotz, 2008). Among the teens between 13-17 years old, 77 percent of teens claim to text on a daily basis (Navigating the teen media experience, 2008).

One vital point that was mentioned about mobile marketing was the timing of the mobile message. During one discussion about mobile marketing and Victoria's Secret, the integrated marketing communications practitioner explained that she chose Black Friday because consumers would be interested in coupons and savings on this day. For those who have never heard of Black Friday, it occurs the day after Thanksgiving when stores lower prices in order to kick off the holiday season (The black friday 2008: Frequently asked questions, 2008). When it came to mobile marketing during Black Friday, they mentioned sending codes to the consumer's cell phone, and by sending these codes to the consumers, they would be able to collect discounts. Along with the discounts, the "Angel Cards" (Victoria Secret credit cards) spending can be measured and additional discounts or points can be given to individuals via mobile phone depending on how much money they spend. This could promote more spending and the building blocks of brand loyalty through rewards.

Another point that was mentioned during the discussion was the idea of mobile marketing benefitting companies that most consumers would never think could benefit from such a program. One example of this was in relation to a movie theater and utilizing mobile marketing to encourage movie-goers to visit a local movie theater. Examples for the mobile message included using another loyalty credit card and gain extra points (or credit) on the consumer's ticket purchase. The reason why this intrigued me was when another member made the comment of how he/she found it ironic that mobile devices could be used to benefit a theater since he/she found mobile devices to be the cause of why he/she disliked attending the theater. There is a bit of irony in using a device that the theaters tell you to turn off before the movie begins as a way to convince people to attend the shows. Especially when cell phones--ringing and answered--are listed #3 and #2 respectedly among theater annoyances (Top 10 theater annoyances, 2005).

So, when it comes to mobile marketing, it seems as though anything is possible. Whether it is through the creation of brand loyalty through cards or by utilizing marketing codes in order to redeem discounts. However, one thing that was not mentioned as often was the idea of using more interactive features such as mobile gaming or text applets. Thes tools came in handy when Adidas wanted to build their soccer fanbase in England with the "Road to Lisbon" campaign. During this campaign, Adidas took a chance on mobile marketing and utilized a text applet that would update soccer fans in real time about their favorite teams; allow for wallpaper and video downloads; and there was even a Euro 2004 video game developed specifically for the mobile phone. While the campaign did not fully infiltrate the 12-24 year old market, it did open the market for more fans of soccer to relate the game with Adidas footwear (Wesley, 2005).

With the upcoming capabilities of 4G wireless, and the constant improvements on cell phones, it is hard to tell what could be next in the future of mobile marketing. Possibly advertising within mobile games? Infrared technology where phones can wirelessly link to one another and allow a technician to connect to a phone via another phone or computer? Maybe ET will be texting his ride to come pick him up instead of calling home.
Krotz, J.L. Tough customers: How to reach Gen Y. Microsoft Small Business Center. Retrieved November 23, 2008, from

Navigating the teen media experience. Longitudinal Media Experience. Retrieved November 23, 2008, from

The black friday 2008: Frequently asked questions. The Black Friday. Retrieved November 21, 2008, from

Top 10 theater annoyances. Movies For Guys. Retrieved November 23, 2008, from

Wesley, D. (2005). The brand in the hand: Mobile marketing at Adidas. Northeastern University, College of Business Administration.

West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism (2008, August 18). Lesson 5: Can you hear me now? M2M, advergaming, in-game branding & RSS feed. Retrieved November 23, 2008, from

Friday, November 21, 2008

Marketing to Youngsters

Wow, it's amazing what could happen in the fast-moving chaos of life. Speaking of fast-moving, companies are no longer wasting precious time when it comes to creating consumers. With over sixty-million members within Generation Y, marketers are taking a look at these members--some of the oldest members barely in college--to see how they can take advantage of the young market (Neuborne, 1999). These members are buying cars, clothes, toys and are taking advantage of their parents wallets.

However, there is a question that has been circulating the ethics department of marketing to younger audiences. How young is too young? This question has been disputed over and over by numerous experts and others such as CEO's of companies, child researchers, reporters, and even psychologists. In order to develop an accurate opinion on the matter, the pros and cons of marketing to children need to be analyzed and each argument needs to be heard.

Against Child Marketing

As consumers, many of us do not have a problem differentiating between products that are worth buying and products that are best left on the shelf. While some adult consumers do fall for gimmicks such as "lose 10 pounds in 2 days on the Hollywood Diet", many of us know that advertisements tend to exaggerate. After all, Axe bodyspray does not cause women from within a 30 yard radius to leap on the wearer and rip his clothes off of his body (though, it might not chase them away either unless you wear too much or to little). Also, wearing a shade of lipstick that is endorsed by a supermodel will not make you look like a supermodel (though, it might make your lips a pretty shade of red). Many consumers know this information because they have knowlege and experience to scrutinize this type of advertising.

The problem is that childrens minds--until they reach a certain level of understanding--may not be able to differentiate as easily between advertisement claims and actual results. Ken Viselmann, CEO of Itsy Bitsy Entertainment, even believes that marketing to children under 5 is improper since they lack the cognitive abilities to understand advertising (Hood, 2000). Along with the cognitive inability to scrutinize these advertisements, there are other downfalls to child advertising that impact children more than the companies believe.

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin believes that advertising and marketing “is a factor in childhood obesity, in eating disorders, precocious irresponsible sexuality, youth violence, underage drinking” along with becoming mini-shopaholics (Couric, 2007). For example, thirty percent of kids between the ages of 6 through 19 are considered obese, which this number is double the amount of kids listed as obesed twenty years ago. What has caused this sharp rise in obesity rates? One of the factors included was the seditary lifestyle that children have developed. Children are more likely to sit in front of the telvision or computer and immerse themselves in all sorts of shows, music, and advertising rather than going outside to play. Also, kids that tend to watch more television also tend to eat more fast food and other unhealthy foods (Drucker, 2004).

What does advertising have to do with the rise in obesity? According to Brian Wilcox, psychologist and Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center on Children, Families and the Law at the University of Nebraska, kids are being bombarded by over 40,000 television commercials a year and this information is worriedsome because "the most common products marketed to children are sugared cereals, candies, sweets, sodas and snack foods. Such advertising of unhealthy food products to young children contributes to poor nutritional habits that may last a lifetime and be a variable in the current epidemic of obesity among kids” (Willenz, 2004).

Another impact of advertising is the forceful desensitizing and sexualizing of younger children. Marketers are even taking part in convincing tweens (8-12 year olds) into buying sexy stuff through “age compression”, or pushing adult products and teen attitudes onto younger children (Buying into sexy: The sexing up of tweens, 2005). Teens and tweens are becoming more and more sexualized and desensitized to the adult content that is on television.

Pro Child Marketing

With all of these negatives, why should marketers consider marketing to young children? First of all, there's a large market when it comes to younger children. Markets that sell material suited for 0-3 year olds make over $20 billion dollars a year (Couric, 2007). Even though this is a lot of money, the money that parents spend on children or because of the opinions of children boosts the marketing potential toward children to a new high. According to the National Institute on Media and the Family, "children 12 years and under, directly and indirectly, influenced the household spending of over $600 billion" (Fact Sheet, 2002). With these numbers, it is no wonder why marketers and advertising companies would want to market to such a young audience.

Another argument for marketing to this type of audience is because of the way these kids are growing up in today's society. The kids of today are now becoming more aware of television and other forms of media. In fact, Alvin Poussaint, a psychiatry professor at Harvard Medical School, states that kids over the age of eight can analyze and distinguish between what commercials say and what the reality is behind these products (Hood, 2000). Children growing up in a society where television has always been around and they can not remember not having the internet are supposedly more socialized when it comes to commericals and the media in general. Therefore, the children of today should not be compared to the children of the past.

Who Wins?

It depends on your opinion. I certainly do not have the answer, just my own opinions on the matter. This discussion could go on forever, but I will allow you--the reader--to distinguish between ethics and marketing intelligence. Some say that Barbie and Bratz dolls are poison to girl's self-esteem. Others who grew up playing with dolls and end up feeling self-confident as adults do not see the harm in imagination or these dolls. They are just toys, right? Feel free to comment with your own opinions or evidence.

Couric, K. (2007, May 14). The hard sell: Marketing to kids. CBS Evening News. Retrieved November 21, 2008, from

Buying into sexy: The sexing up of tweens. (2005). CBC Marketplace. Retrieved November 21, 2008, from

Drucker, R. (2004). To your health--CHRC Newsletter. Palo Alto Medical Foundation. Retrieved November 21, 2008, from

Fact sheet. National Institute of Media and the Family. Retrieved November 21, 2008, from

Hood, D. (2000, November 1). Is advertising to kids wrong? Marketers responds. Kidscreen. Retrieved November 21, 2008, from

Neuborne, E. (1999, February 15). Generation Y. BusinessWeek. Retrieved November 21, 2008, from

Willenz, P. (2004, February 23). Television advertising leads to unhealthy habits in children; says APA task force. American Psychological Association. Retrieved November 21, 2008, from