Children’s Disliking of Advergames Indicates their Resistance
A study in the Journal of Advertising reveals that while children’s (7-10 y/o) resistance toward TV advertising strongly depends on their ability to understand advertising’s source and intent, their resistance toward advergames (games in which a certain brand or product is promoted) depends on a more affective component: their disliking of the game. It turns out that revealing the advertised brand at the beginning of an advergame is an effective tactic to increase children’s resistance toward it by diminishing their liking of the game.
- Children (7-10 y/o) who posses high levels of persuasion knowledge (recognizing advertising’s source and intent) are more resistant to TV advertising because they have less desire for the advertised products.
- However, in the case of new advertising formats such as advergames, understanding advertising’s source and intent is not enough.
- Children are only able to resist the tactics used in advergames when the advertised brand is revealed at the start of the game for example in the advergame of Lay’s potato chips: “Play the Lay’s advergame! Go to www.Lays.be or click here!”.
- This kind of announcement increases children’s resistance toward advergames by lowering their liking of the game.
- This could imply that realizing that a game is actually an advertisement makes children more critical toward the game, which then transfers to the advertised product.
- For policy makers with interest in children’s advertising defenses it’s important to know that new advertising formats ask for alternative methods to protect young children against the persuasive messages.
How do children defend against different types of advertising formats?
Study 1: 254 children aged 7- to 10-years-old (mean age: 8 years old; 44% were boys).
Study 2: 128 children aged 7- to 10-years-old (mean age: 8 years old; 47% were boys).
Study 1: Children either watched a fragment of SpongeBob SquarePants (popular TV-program among children) followed by an advertising announcement (“We’ll be back after the commercial break”), and commercial for Lay’s potato chips or they played the Lay’s advergame on the computer in which they had to collect bags of chips along their way to get to a party within a given time (either without or with announcement: “Play the Lay’s advergame! Go to www.Lays.be or click here!”). Afterwards, children’s level of persuasion knowledge, attitude toward the advertisement or game, and desire to ask parents to buy the advertised product were assessed.
Study 2: Children either played the Lay’s advergame again or a noncommercial social game in which children had to collect as many healthy snacks as possible. Children’s level of persuasion knowledge, attitude toward the game, and desire to ask parents to buy the advertised product or product category (Lay’s potato chips in the case of the commercial advergame, and healthy snacks in the case of the noncommercial advergame) were assessed.
Facts and findings
- Children had much better persuasion knowledge (understanding of advertising’s source and intent) about TV commercials than about advergames.
- Children with higher persuasion knowledge were less inclined to ask their parents to buy Lay’s potato chips, however, this was only the case for the TV commercial and not for the advergame.
- Children who played the advergame only decreased their intended purchase requests when an advertising announcement was added at the beginning of the game.
- This had to do with children’s liking of the game, which dropped when they saw the announcement.
- Thus, children became more resistant to TV advertising due to increased persuasion knowledge and more resistant to advergames due to a lower liking of the game.
- When different types of games were compared (advergame vs. social game), persuasion knowledge still had no effect on children’s desire for the advertised product (Lay's potato chips in the case of the advergame) or product type (healthy snacks in the case of the social game).
- No significant difference was found across games for the effect of attitude toward the game on children’s desire for the advertised product or product type either.