The European Commission recently presented a study about the challenges that minors face as online users when they play the games while in social networks or on mobile applications. The marketing practices that take advantage of them are not always understood by small users.
A survey of 25 of the most popular games on the Internet has established that they contain embedded or contextual ads. Most ads are embedded in the form of a photo of the product, logo or symbol shown before or after the game. Contextual advertising appears on the side of the page, next to the game.
The common in the games provided by different platforms is the ability and/or the requirement to pay to continue and/or speed up the game. Users also often have to pay extra to avoid the commercials. Most of the Games encourage users to spend more time playing, and invite them to make purchases in the app to continue and/or improve their game. Many games also have the option of customization to increase the involvement of consumers in social networks or in an online community. The analysis concluded that in the games as a whole lacks the protective measures, such as the commercial breaks, which could help users to distinguish ads while playing.
During the survey, experiments with children between 6 and 12 years to trace the effect of online marketing practices were conducted. One of them has found that embedded ads have a subliminal effect on kids and they have an impact on their behavior without realizing it. So when the advertising of high-energy breakfast cereal has been found and increased consumption of sugary foods.
The study showed that the children do not receive equal protection against online trade within the EU. The reason is that online marketing is treated differently in different countries, and in addition the parents from different countries apply different models of supervision of their kids on the net. In fact, according to the survey, most parents do not see in online marketing a major risk for their children. The adults were mostly concerned whether the kids are exposed to violent scenes or online harassment, as well as their personal data stolen
A key recommendation from this study is that more must be done to protect children as consumers on the Internet. Online marketing should be made more transparent for small customers, as well as to enable them to recognize the different techniques that are used in this environment. Protective measures should be directed not only to parents, but also increasingly on children.
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Source : ECC - Bulgaria