Mobile MarketingCell phones are one of the most important digital platforms for marketing to young people, enabling companies to directly target users based on previous buying history, location, and other profiling data. As the practice grows, mobile users will increasingly be sent personally tailored electronic pitches, designed to trigger immediate purchases and timed to reach them when they are near particular stores and restaurants. Click on menu item for more information.
Behavioral ProfilingDatabase marketing has become a core strategy for companies targeting teens, a linchpin of many digital media campaigns—not only on the Internet, but also on cell phones, video games, and other new platforms. Marketers can compile a detailed profile of each customer, including demographic data, purchasing behavior, responses to advertising messages, and even the extent and nature of social networks. Marketers use the information to create messages tailored to the psychographic and behavioral patterns of the individual. Click on menu item for more information.
DigitalPeer-to-peer marketing (sometimes called "buzz," "word-of-mouth," or "viral" marketing) has become a staple among youth advertisers.xi Market researchers target key influential young people who can serve as "brand sirens," promoting products to their peers through instant messaging, social networking sites, and blogs.xii Companies are creating elaborate viral campaigns, sometimes using "hidden messages" to lure youth into a series of games and other activities across different media, generating buzz within the online youth subculture, all under the public radar. This "360" marketing strategy engages with young people repeatedly wherever they are—in cyberspace, watching TV, or offline. Click on menu item for more information.
Infiltrating IMThe three major instant messaging formats—AOL's AIM, Yahoo!'s Messenger, and MSN Messenger—all promote themselves aggressively to advertisers that want to permeate and surround teenagers' ongoing casual conversations, "24/7." AOL, Yahoo! and MSN Messenger offer a variety of strategies, including "roadblocks" and "takeover ads" that flood a site's homepage with interactive commercials, as well as branded "bots" and buddy icons. Yahoo!'s "IMVironments" (IMVs) are customized "interactive backgrounds" in the IM space, whose "unique rich media features" create "fun and effective advertising." "On average," explained one marketer, "we see 1.5 million people download a particular IMV, send over 100 million messages within it, and spend five to 10 minutes per user per day per IMV. This time spent is a particularly impressive statistic when you compare it to how much time in one day that user would spend watching a particular TV commercial for that advertiser." Click on menu item for more information.
Commercializing Online CommunitiesMarketers have aggressively moved into MySpace and other social networking sites, taking advantage of their large, highly detailed user profiles and expanding lists of "friends." "The targeting we can do is phenomenal," explained a marketer. Social networks are also "breaking down that wall between what is marketing and what isn't." "[S]ometimes the marketing is so embedded in the social network sphere," observed a recent trade article, "that it draws users to interact with the brand as if they were emailing friends." Click on menu item for more information.
Brand-saturated environmentsFood and beverage companies have created their own online branded entertainment sites, seamlessly weaving a variety of interactive content with product pitches and cartoon "spokescharacters." Designed to encourage young consumers to engage playfully with products over long periods of time, many offer "free" content, games, merchandise, and endless replays of television commercials. With the growth of broadband technology, these digital playgrounds have evolved into highly sophisticated "immersive" experiences, includingentire programs and "channels" built around brands. Multicultural marketers are keenly aware of the strong interest in music among both African American and Hispanic/Latino youth, and have created branded entertainment featuring some of the most popular celebrities and offering free downloads of their recordings. Click on menu item for more information.
Recruiting Brand AdvocatesWith more and more young people creating their own online "user-generated content," marketers are encouraging them to "co-create" and promote commercials for their favorite brands.xxx In marketing circles, the two new buzzwords—"consumer-generated" and "brand-generated" media—are often used interchangeably, suggesting an intentional blurring of roles. The strategy is designed to foster powerful emotional connections between consumers and products, tap into a stable of young creative talent willing to offer their services for free, and produce a new generation of "brand advocates." Click on menu item for more information.
Game-vertisingIn-game advertising, or "game-vertising", is a highly sophisticated, finely tuned strategy that combines product placement, behavioral targeting, and viral marketing to forge ongoing relationships between brands and individual gamers. Marketing through interactive games works particularly well for snack, beverage, and other "impulse" food products. Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Gatorade, McDonald's, Burger King and KFC, for example, were the "most recalled brands" in an October 2006 survey of video game players. Not only can marketers incorporate their brands into the storylines of popular games, they can also use software that enables them to respond to a player's actions in real time, changing, adding, or updating advertising messages to tailor their appeal to that particular individual. At a recent conference on interactive advertising, software developers explained how they purposefully create games to make them "in sync with the brand," ensuring that images players see in the game are similar to what "they see in the supermarket aisle…[and on TV] Saturday morning." Games must always be "addictive," should include a "viral component," and be "continually updated" to facilitate ongoing data collection and analysis. Click on menu item for more information.
Advertising through AvatarsImmersive three-dimensional environments are on the cutting edge of digital marketing. These "virtual worlds" are complex, multilayered enterprises that combine many of the most popular online activities—such as instant messaging, interactive gaming, and social networking—into increasingly elaborate settings in which individuals create their own online identities through avatars. "Once the stuff of science fiction," explains the Web site for the new-media ad agency Millions of Us, "virtual worlds are becoming central to the future of marketing, technology, entertainment and brand-building." Marketing through avatars is "one of the most effective kinds of advertising going," commented one advertising executive, explaining that the speed with which a "brand or marketing message can spread through a virtual world from avatar to avatar is breathtaking." Among the food and beverage brands actively engaged in avatar-based strategies are Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Kellogg, Nabisco, Kraft, Pizza Hut, P&G, and Subway. Click on menu item for more information.
Institute of Medicine. Committee on Prevention of Obesity in Children and Youth. Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the balance. Washington DC: The National Academies Press, 2005.
Institute of Medicine. Committee on Food Marketing and the Diets of Children and youth. Food marketing to children and youth: Threat or opportunity? National Academies Press, 2006.
Elizabeth S. Moore, It's Child’s Play: Advergaming and the Online Marketing of
Food to Children (Menlo Park, CA: The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation,
(viewed 26 Mar. 2007).
John G. Singer, "Marketing Ecosystems: Framing Brand Management for Business Ecosystems," 4 Jan. 2006, http://www.crm2day.com/library/pdf.php?pdf=50216-0.pdf
(viewed 12 Dec. 2007).