Food companies have taken advantage of the steady rise of presence among kids and teens in the online world. McDonald’s, for example, has transformed its Happy Meal website into an interactive website, with various engaging elements aimed at developing a digital marketing ecosystem. In this ecosystem, children are being creative, engaging in social networking, playing games, entering contests, and more importantly, editing profiles which are valuable sources of targeting data. This is the summary of the article by Jeff Chester and Kathryn Montgomery, which talks about the impact of online advertising by food companies on the youth, particularly their health. You can get the PDF of the behavioral targeting article here: Interactive food and beverage marketing..
Indeed, digital marketing is one of the avenues exploited by these companies in today’s economic woes. This is because digital marketing has remained strong and dynamic despite the hard times; the latest advancements in digital marketing technology can only help so much to further make digital marketing a strong force in the marketing field.
Digital marketing has several features. One is ubiquitous connectivity, or finding ways wherein users engage and are reached repeatedly. Another is behavioral targeting, or the use of data collection based on user browsing behavior to develop long-term relationships with customers. Another feature is immersion, or using the latest technology to tailor the appeals of individuals.
The trends have shown that social networks will continue to attract more youth as social marketing becomes more and more classy and complex. As such, ad expenditures are expected to continue to rise and generate billions of dollars for food and beverage marketers, through digital word of mouth campaigns and other strategies.
Trends also show that online gaming ad spending will be worth a billion dollars by 2014. Some food and beverage companies have already exploited this popularity to attract gamers to their website. Furthermore, online video viewing will continue to be very strong; ad revenues are expected to reach 4.6 billion dollars by 2013. Studies show that ads shown on online videos are 14% more effective than those shown on TV. Other advertising techniques that are on the better end of trends include mobile advertising, neuromarketing, behavioral advertising, and user interactions.
Policy and legal insinuations
These trends show that digital marketing will continue to be a strong force in the society, but it raises concerns about the possible health risks these highly influential ads can do to the society, and especially the youth and cultural minorities that have a unique susceptibility to obesity and other related health problems. Specific digital marketing practices that potentially raise these health issues should be regulated. For example, some practices makes it hard for consumers to distinguish between content and marketing, and blurs the lines between point of purchase and influence.
Generally, these practices should be developed under the considerations of adolescent and child development, government advertising rules, industry guidelines, etc. If not addressed properly, these emerging digital marketing trends could have a long-lasting unwanted effect on the public health.