Research shows kids understand most ads

Viacom Brand Solutions (VBS) unveils its third and final “Generation” report this week, which shows children act as “consultants” to their parents and instruct them on what to buy – from technology to cars.

The under-12s, born into a “hyper-consumerist” world, are also wise to traditional advertising on TV, billboards, and through sponsorship, says the research, although product placement in games and Web banners remains “subliminal”.

VBS, the MTV Networks sales house, teamed up with children’s TV network Nickelodeon UK to carry out the research, which included revisiting existing research together with commissioned qualitative research involving more than 80 children from around the UK earlier this year.

“Our youngest generations have been born into a hyper-consumerist world that markets brands according to their lifestyle values rather than their functional benefits,” the report reads.

“To cope with these messages, children have learned to skim rather than absorb – making them particularly savvy about traditional advertising on TV, billboards and sponsorship products. However, it is only when they get older that they are able to understand and decode more subliminal forms of advertising, such as product placement in computer games or website banners.”

The research will also show that advertising campaigns have made children view a nicotine habit as taboo, that they are building strong friendships via messaging and SMS, and have difficulties understanding the value of money in a “plastic” world.

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