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Issue of Online Advertisements for Children

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Marketing
Wordcount: 2955 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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Essay Title 21.Discuss the issue of online ‘advergames’ with particular reference to children and drawing on a relevant scholarship as well as the trade press as required.


A distinctive brand personality can help build consumers’ brand association and heighten consumers’ desire to purchase the products. A good brand personality can shape brand image, especially in terms of advertising effectiveness, and also has a positive impact on the brand. In recent years, due to the limited effect of traditional advertising, there has emerged an emerging advertising strategy called branded entertainment. Advertisers have noticed that many consumers are engaged in the game, so they contribute to combine the brand information with the entertainment media. Among them, advergaming is one of the successful cases. Advergames, as its name implies, is a combination of advertising and games. With the purpose of consumers seeking entertainment, business owners integrate brand-related information into a game form. It is hoped that consumers can achieve entertainment effects through games also achieve the product information and the brand cognition. Which can achieve the purpose of advertising. (Wise, Balls, Kim, Venkataraman & Meyer, 2008) Without a doubt, the combination of games and advertising has gradually become a popular advertising marketing method in recent year. Advergames are defined as ‘interactive online games embedded with brand messages’ (An and Stern, 2011). In general, most advergames is designed to be simple and easy to operate (Winkler and Buckner, 2006), which can impress the consumers in a short time. Due to the game is easy to get started, it’s become more attractive to children’s attention. Research has shown that children can be reached easily by advergames on popular gaming websites (An and Kang, 2014). Therefore, advergames provide a unique way to eliminate, which can easily aim the children as the target market (An and Stern, 2011).

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Advergaming is a new advertising media that is being used by many companies to brand and market and market their products. It’s a blend of advertising and game. There are interactive games that allow user’s continued exposure to the brand publicized. If we discuss the impact of advergames on children, diet is a very important issue we cannot ignore. For a long time, junk food marketers have been criticized for causing childhood obesity (Hastings et al., 2003). Children’s cognitive abilities are not yet fully developed (Eagle, 2007) so they may be highly susceptible to persuasion (such as that delivered in advergames) due to their immersive nature.

Research suggests children who play advergames eat more than 50 percent more sweets straight afterward than children who play a game without the advert. Compared to TV advertising in just 30 seconds, in fact, children are particularly vulnerable to advergames. These immersive games are more likely to affect children’s subconscious minds deeply. When they play the role of the game, their conscious brain will be attracted to victory – and then junk food brand information will slide into their subconscious. Make their subconscious mind have such a connection–This brand (or product) is equal to fun and excitement. Psychologists call this the ‘mere exposure effect’. Exposure to brand logos in a pleasant environment will make children associate nice impression with this brand or product. This also been called the familiarity principle. If we discuss this theory in the attractiveness of interpersonal relationships, the more times we see someone, the more we feel that this person is lovable and enjoyable. The same can be proved, put this concept into the game because most of the game is pleasing and rich of entertaining value, it will double the effect. Boring will limit the benefit of mere exposure effect, people’s repeated exposure to rigid things will not increase the interest too much. The game just solves this problem perfectly. In the process of the game, children need to solve problems or reach the goals to win the game. At the same time, the embedded advertising is repeated, which indirectly deepens the impression of the subconscious mind of children and increases the children’s love and interest. And while a TV advert only exposes children to a product for 20 seconds at a time, an advergame can be played for hours — which embeds the marketing messages in their minds through constant repetition and immersive experience. Children don’t know that this information has not been processed into their brains because all of their cognitive resources are played online by games (Narin, 2012). Even many large companies hire neuroscientists to specifically develop such advertising marketing strategies for children.

Not only that, but there are other chilling factors that make people shudder. Children with smartphones can download free game apps from junk food companies. When they do, the app enables advertisers to use GPS satellite positioning to track the child’s whereabouts. Dr. Emma Boyland, a lecturer in appetite and obesity at the University of Liverpool, warning that this technology allows advertisers to judge whether a child is near a fast food restaurant and send them advertisements and seduce contents. Experts call this strategy “ultra-targeting,” which delivers information to children’s phones within a mile of a restaurant. When a child is close to a fast food restaurant, the game ads attract children through various rewards, such as coupons, discounts or faster way to reach the goal of the games, making it harder for children to resist these benefits. Junk food advertisers can even use the computer system to analyze children’s personal emotions — as they are shown on social media sites like Facebook or Instagram — when they look down or hungry, they send ads to them through the game app. And unfortunately, most of the time their parents cannot see the same advertisements, nor do they observe the online activities by their children. (Jakab, 2014)

Unlike traditional ad formats, persuasive information in advergames is immersive, highly engaged in the interesting environments, blurring the boundaries between entertainment and advertising. (An and Stern 2011) This makes it difficult for children to recognize advergames. Processing with an advertising game involves two tasks, the main task is to get a high score to reach the goal of the game, and the secondary task is to process the advertising message. (Rifon et al. 2014) Because processing ads is a secondary task, it is often difficult for children to recognize and understand the true intent of these advergames. Brand attitude can be used as a measure of ad effectiveness (Te’eni-Harari, Lehman-Wilzig, and Lampert 2009). It is seen as an emotional response to advertising, and advergames are believed to generate a more positive brand attitude towards brands into games.

Here’s an example. Burger King and Gamewheel created a game that can be opened in Burger King’s mobile app. The game’s average click-through rate is 40,25%, which really appeals to its customers. In the game, people need to control the burger to get the falling food. The most food you get, the higher score you reach. It is very effective for Burger King to promote their products and make them more attractive. This is one of the typical advergames operations.

Another example is from a famous candy company Chupa Chups. When they conceived in 1992, they worked with Sonic’s well-known video game character “Zool” to develop this special game. This game has a special place in my heart, not only because it uses a classic video game character, but also this game is published on a famous gaming system, Super Nintendo. Since SEGA, which was developed by Sonic, stopped making their own consoles, the company has published several games on Nintendo. At the same time, this collaboration game published by Zool and Chupa Chups was one of the first few games designed to be a high-quality video game. Until the late stage of the development cycle, the team faced budgetary issues before officially turning “Zool” into a web-based advergame.

Maybe you are not a video game enthusiast, but if you are a design enthusiast, you will still be satisfied in this game. Surprisingly, most of the Chupa Chups logos are designed by surrealist artist Salvador Dali. The assorted color design will make you crave a lollipop.

Compared with other traditional advertising modes, the entertainment and interactivity of advertising games can greatly reduce consumers’ resistance and resentment to advertising. A good advergames can attract consumers’ spontaneous attention and active participation, making consumers have a great interest in the game itself, and even addictive. This kind of emotion can be more reflected in children. The game’s special “Immersive experience” allows advergames to bring unprecedented attention to consumers. Advergames allow consumers to have a higher level of participation, and it is often difficult for children to recognize such emotions in the game. it is believed that consumers put more effort into processing information linked to high-involvement products than they do for low-involvement products ( Cauberghe and De Pelsmacker, 2010)

The advertising game is a complete calculation program, which can provide advertisers with perfect delivery data, and can realize many interactions with the advertising audience that traditional advertising cannot achieve.

The following four are the reasons I think it might influent children of discussing advergames.

  1. Interactivity:

The game is a highly interactive product. From the selection of characters and scenes in the game to the process control during gaming, children always believe themselves can influence the game’s process and results with their own will. This is what so-called “Immersive experience”. It is this high degree of interactivity that allows children to generate a strong interest and participate in the game. Without a doubt, in the world of an advergame, the participation in the game is the participation of advertising.

  1. Uniqueness:

Each brand is unique, so each advergame is unique. From the planning stage of the game, professionals integrate the characteristics of the brand and products into their corresponding game ideas, so that each advergame has its own unique characteristics, bringing children the freshest game experience.

  1. Viral:

The transmission mechanism of advergames is viral. A good advergames will be actively taken care of by consumers and consciously participate in its promotion activities. On the one hand, this kind of communication mechanism reduces the cost of advertising by advertisers, on the other hand, it greatly increases the influence of advertising. At the same time, through the word-of-mouth communication between children, it will create a strong peer pressure which can better enhance the public image of the brand. Some researchers also claimed out that brand knowledge may be a part of socialization and ‘playground cool’ (Ritson & Elliott, 1999).

  1. Technical:

Compared with the traditional online advertising format, the advergames is not only a product that combines wonderful creativity and exquisite design but also integrates advanced interactive technology. From consumer behavior analysis to game data monitoring, and interactive mechanisms such as questionnaires, forwarding and sweepstakes set in the game. All technicians will set up corresponding procedures according to the needs of marketing, and provide powerful data support for the advergames from planning to delivery, so as to achieve the effect that traditional advertising forms cannot achieve.

Advertising is ubiquitous in children’s daily lives and may have a substantial impact on children, including their consumption patterns, food preferences and brand loyalty. Previous research about printed advertisements and TV commercials had already confirmed that product involvement might affect the brand attitudes of children (Te’eni-Harari, Lehman-Wilzig, and Lampert 2009). Children who participate in ads with high-participation products are significantly more active in advertising brands than low-participating products. Marketers can get children’s awareness and positioning of brands and improve brand attitudes from the data through the game. According to the data, adolescents between the ages of 2 and 17 spend about $250 billion a year (Calvert, 2008), which shows that the youth market is extremely astonishing. In an increasingly digital world, teenagers now spend quite a bit of time online or in games (Rideout, Foehr & Roberts, 2010). Obviously, companies also want to reach children through richer entertainment technologies (McGinnis, Gootman & Kraak, 2006). In addition to promoting specific products, advergames also promote set values, including the culture of consumption (Casey, 2005). In order to promote consumption, advergames are surrounded by a large number of marketing strategies, including game rankings and scores. Some advergames can use virtual currency so that the players can purchase digital goods, including VIP special features, fast customs clearance or difference clothing for their characters. In addition to considering that children may over-consume online games, parents should also pay attention to the privacy issues. The Internet is a huge space that is largely unregulated. Not only collecting personal data, but the GPS system in the app can also easily get the child’s location, others include clicking times, time spent on specific games, repeated visits, or use quizzes to analyze the products that children are most interested in, privacy issues are everywhere. Junk foods even become more and more popular in advergames, which that children have health problems. The government should assist parents in regulating these game-based advertisements, for example, provide relevant slogans on children’s websites, or include information on healthy goods or healthy living habits in interactive games. These are all the problem we need to pay attention to. How parents identify games with hidden advertising information and avoid children to get excessive immersion has become an extremely important issue in modern times.



  •    Chen, J., & Ringel, M. (2001). Can advergaming be the future of interactive advertising?, 2011, online article from:  http://www.kpe.com/ourwork/pdf/advergaming.pdf
  • An, S., and S. Stern. (2011) Mitigating the effects of advergames on children.,Journal of Advertising 40, no. 1: 43–56.
  • Winkler, T., and K. Buckner, (2006) Receptiveness of gamers to embedded brand messages in advergames: Attitudes towards product placement. Journal of Interactive Advertising 7, no. 1: 24–32.
  •    Rifon, N.J., E. Taylor Quilliam, H.J. Paek, L.J. Weatherspoon, S.K. Kim, and K.C. Smreker, (2014) Age-dependent effects of food advergames brand integration and interactivity. International Journal of Advertising 33, no. 3: 475–508.
  • Cauberghe, V., and P. De Pelsmacker, (2010) The impact of brand prominence and game repetition on brand responses. International Journal of Advertising 39, no. 1: 5–18.
  •    Ini Vanwesenbeeck, Michel Walrave, and Koen Ponnet, (2016) Children and advergames: The role of product involvement, prior brand attitude, persuasion knowledge and game attitude in purchase intentions and changing attitudes. International Journal of Advertising 36
  • Te’eni-harari, T., S. Lehman-Wilzig, and S.Lampert. (2009) The importance of product involvement for predicting advertising effectiveness among young people., International Journal of Advertising28, no. 2: 203–29.
  • Kunkel, Dale, Brian L. Wilcox, Joanne Cantor, Edward Palmer, Susan Linn, and Peter Dowrick (2004), Report of APA Task Force on Advertising and Children: Psychological Issues in the Increasing Commercialization of Childhood, Washington DC: American Psychological Association.
  • Calvert, S. L. (2008), Children as consumers: Advertising and marketing. Future of Children, 18, 205–234.


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