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Parental awareness of new online advertising techniques targeting children: an exploratory study of American parents

Matthew A. Lapierre (Department of Communication, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA)
Eunjoo Choi (Department of Communication, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA)

Young Consumers

ISSN: 1747-3616

Article publication date: 20 May 2021

Issue publication date: 7 July 2021

451

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine what parents from across the USA know about online advertising/marketing tactics directed at children, their familiarity with these tactics and what they believe about the appropriateness of using these promotional methods to target children.

Design/methodology/approach

The online survey company Qualtrics was used to collect data from 500 parents in the USA. Parents had to have at least one child between the ages of 5 and 14 to participate. To ensure socio-economic diversity, half of the participants had an associate degree or more of schooling while the other half of participants had some college or less. Participants were given vignettes describing 11 different online advertising/marketing tactics and were asked how familiar they were with each tactic, whether they could identify the tactic by name, at what age they believed their child could understand the promotional intent of the tactic and the age that they thought it was ethical to use this tactic with children.

Findings

The results revealed that parents were only moderately familiar with many of these advertising/marketing tactics and had difficulty identifying most of them by name. In addition, parents reported that, on average, most 11-year-old children would understand the purpose of these marketing approaches and that it was ethical to target children with them.

Originality/value

The results of this exploratory study offer researchers some key insights into how American parents perceive online advertising that targets children.

Keywords

Citation

Lapierre, M.A. and Choi, E. (2021), "Parental awareness of new online advertising techniques targeting children: an exploratory study of American parents", Young Consumers, Vol. 22 No. 2, pp. 290-305. https://doi.org/10.1108/YC-12-2020-1271

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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