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, often 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.

marketers target kids online without parents’ awareness

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.

we have been analyzing the tactics marketers use…

Our History

We launched this site in 2007 to show how digital marketing was transforming the way the food and beverage industry reached young people and to make recommendations for change. Since then, food and beverage companies have employed increasingly sophisticated campaigns to target children and teens. To keep pace with these changes, we have been analyzing the tactics marketers use hook young people on 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, while The California Endowment supported the initial website; both groups have supported research and web updates since then. 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

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.

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.