Dr. Susannah Stern, Communication Studies professor at the University of San Diego, recently co-authored a research article that was published in the Journal of Advertising.
The study, entitled “Mitigating the Effects of Advergames on Children: Do Advertising Breaks Work?” explored the effectiveness of ad labels in advergames. Advergames are interactive online games embedded with brand messages. They have become a characteristic way to market to young children, with some websites posting more than 50 different games for kids to play.
An and Stern tested whether an ad “alert” helped children understand that an advergame is trying to promote a brand and to see if it helped them recognize the brand sponsor of the game. One hundred and twelve children aged eight to 11 were asked to play an advergame in which visual and/or audio formats of the ad alert were present or absent.
The results showed that none of the ad labels helped children to clearly detect the commercial nature of the advergame or identify the game sponsor. Given that advergames are commonplace online but that children may not understand their persuasive intent, the authors suggest that policy makers investigate the best ways to prepare children for their digital experiences.
Dr. Stern is an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies at USD. Stern offers courses that investigate the role of media in contemporary life, particularly as they involve children and adolescents. Stern’s scholarly research encompasses a range of work investigating how children and teens use and make sense of media, how young people are targeted as media consumers, and how they use and are affected by mass media. Her work has appeared in a variety of journals and edited collections, and she is frequently interviewed by the news media about her expertise on children, teens and media.
To read the study, click here. Stern is available for interviews.