Food Marketers Target Kids Online

NEW YORK Eighty-five percent of the leading food brands that target children through TV advertising also use branded Web sites to reach kids, according to a new survey.

Such information may prove useful to policy-makers and others seeking to curb high childhood obesity rates, said the Kaiser Family Foundation, which conducted the survey.

“Online advertising’s reach isn’t as broad as that of television, but it’s much deeper,” said Vicky Rideout, vice president and director of Kaiser’s Program for the Study of Entertainment Media and Health, who oversaw the research.

Most of the top food brands’ Web sites include games for children to play and encourage viral marketing (urging users to contact peers about a product), according to the survey, released today at a conference in Washington, D.C.

Although industry guidelines state ad content should be clearly identified on product-driven Web sites, Kaiser found that only 18 percent of the venues it studied informed children that content included advertising.

Kaiser examined 77 Web sites that received more than 12 million visits from children ages 2-11 in the second quarter of 2005.