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Food Marketers Target Kids Online with Advergames

The vast majority of leading food brands that target kids via TV advertising also set their sights on them online, as well, according to a new study.

Some 85 percent of those food brands also use branded websites intended to attract children, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation study, reports MediaWeek. Most of the top food brands' sites include games for kids and encourage them to contact their peers about products. Kaiser's report (pdf), "It's Child's Play: Advergaming and the Online Marketing of Food to Children," found that only 18 percent of websites informed users that the content included ads, despite industry guidelines calling for ad content to be clearly identified on product-driven sites.

About three-quarters (73 percent) of the websites in the study included advergames, ranging from one to more than 60 games per site. In total, the sites in the study contained 546 games featuring one or more food brands. To encourage additional time spent at the website, many of the games promote repeat playing (71 percent), offer multiple levels of play (45 percent) or suggest other games the visitor might enjoy (22 percent).

Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of sites in the study use viral marketing, with children encouraged to send emails to their friends about a product, or invite them to visit the company's website.

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