The issue

The media, including marketing and advertising, play a major role in shaping our health. They affect the choices we make about what to eat, and children are particularly vulnerable to their influence. Marketers know this and are increasingly using a sophisticated array of digital techniques to target kids online and without parents' awareness. Much of this marketing is for unhealthy products like fast food and soda, which are linked to diet-related illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.

Our vision

We envision a world where children and youth can learn, play and connect in the digital landscape privately, without being watched by companies trying to sell them something.

Our history

We launched this site in 2007 to showcase our initial research on how digital marketing was transforming how the food and beverage industry reached young people and to outline recommendations for change. Since then, the digital marketing landscape has evolved, with food and beverage companies taking the lead with increasingly sophisticated campaigns to target children and teens. To keep pace with these changes, we have been watching and analyzing the tactics marketers use engage youth with their brand.

Our funders

Digitalads.org exists thanks to support from The California Endowment and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In 2007, RWJF supported the first study of how food and beverage companies use digital tactics to target children and youth. The California Endowment supported the initial website and our update in 2013. Over the years, Digitalads.org has also enjoyed support from ChangeLab Solutions' National Policy and Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Childhood Obesity.

Who we are

Center for Digital Democracy

The Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) is recognized as one of the leading consumer protection and privacy organizations in the United States. Since its founding in 2001 (and prior to that through its predecessor organization, the Center for Media Education), CDD has been at the forefront of research, public education, and advocacy on protecting consumers in the digital age. The nonprofit has helped create a legacy of government and self-regulatory safeguards across a variety of Internet and digital media platforms. CDD also conducts public education programs focused on informing consumers, policy makers, and the press about contemporary digital marketing issues, including its impact on public health, children and youth, and financial services.

Berkeley Media Studies Group

A project of the Public Health Institute, Berkeley Media Studies Group (BMSG) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding advocates' ability to improve the systems and structures that determine health. To do this, BMSG helps community and public health groups make their voices heard in a powerful public forum, the news, by teaching them media advocacy-the strategic use of mass media to advance healthy public policy. BMSG collaborates with organizations on a range of issues from violence prevention to children's health and has come to be known as a leading public health media advocacy organization in the United States.