The paper "Web-Based Rating Systems Designed Combat the Adverse Effects of Multimedia Marketing on Children" is an outstanding example of coursework on marketing. Advertising is a pervasive presence in the lives of most American children. Estimates suggest that young people watch over three hours of television per day (Roberts, Foehr and Rideout 2005) and are exposed to anywhere from 23,000 to 40,000 television commercials in a single year (FTC/DHHS 2006; Kunkel 2001). Emerging media such as the Internet have further expanded advertising’ s reach and offer novel opportunities to target this young audience.
Estimates suggest that 98% of children’ s sites permit advertising and that more than two-thirds of websites designed for children rely on advertising for their primary revenue (Neuborne 2001). Commercially sponsored websites containing games and promotions designed for children are also an emerging force on the Internet. Concern about children’ s ability to comprehend and critically evaluate these sales messages has stimulated research and debate for more than three decades. The scope of this debate has broadened in recent years as new advertising venues have become available. With the significant rise in levels of childhood obesity, particular questions are being raised about the impacts of food marketing.
Two comprehensive studies have recently been published, one by the Institute of Medicine in the U. S., and another by the Food Standards Agency in the U. K. which attempt to assess marketing’ s contribution to the obesity problem through a review of the existing empirical evidence (Hastings 2003; Institute of Medicine 2005). By necessity, these reviews are heavily focused on the impacts of television advertising because this has been the primary research emphasis over time. Relatively little is known about the nature and effects of emerging media such as the Internet, product placements or buzz marketing.
Yet, commentators on all sides of the issue recognize that the picture is incomplete and that the many new forms of marketing activity targeted at children need to be investigated as well. One of the perceived strengths of the Internet is its capacity to engender high levels of interest and engagement. Consumers have to seek out desired content and interact with it in some way. This is an inherently active process: surfing through a website demands a continuing series of decisions and actions. It is this feature that distinguishes the Internet from a more passive medium like television.
Rather than capturing children’ s attention for 30 seconds, the advertiser may now engage children for several minutes in this potentially powerful, interactive medium.