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Added: Arlis Linsley - Date: 18.09.2021 10:25 - Views: 41766 - Clicks: 9464

Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Children nowadays spend many hours online watching YouTube videos in which their favorite vloggers are playing games, unboxing toys, reviewing products, making jokes or just going about their daily activities. These vloggers regularly post attractive and entertaining content in the hope of building a large follower base.

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Although many of these vloggers are adults, the of child vloggers is flourishing. The popularity of these vloggers incited advertisers to include them as a new marketing communication tool, also referred to as influencer marketing, in their marketing strategy. Accordingly, many influential vloggers now receive free products from brands in return for a mention in one of their videos and their other social media e.

Given the limited advertising literacy skills i.

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Therefore, caution is needed when implementing this marketing tactic to target them. However, research on how influencer marketing affects young children under 12 is scarce and it is unclear how these young children can be empowered to critically cope with this fairly new form of persuasion.

This paper therefore aims to shed light on why and how social media influencers have persuasive power over their young followers. The paper starts with providing insights into how and why social media influencers became a new source in advertising. We then discuss the few studies that have been conducted on influencer marketing among young children under 12based on a systematic literature review, and take these findings to formulate societal and policy implications and develop a future research agenda.

Today, children have plenty of options for digital entertainment and social media. YouTube offers new possibilities for brands to engage with children and their parents, including embedded advertising formats containing subtle brand integrations in entertaining media content, making them less intrusive, and thus harder to recognize Hudders et al. Given the popularity and potential to reach young viewers online, digital advertising spending for children reached million U.

The stars of social media, also referred to as vloggers on YouTube, have become important influencers for the consumption decisions of their young audiences. They give their followers an insight into the brands they love and use in their daily life and even give direct advice on the products their followers should use or not use De Jans et al.

Because of their reach and the credibility they exude, many brands have added these influencers, who are often kids themselves e. This is because, in return for free promotional goods or payment, brands ask these influencers to endorse their products on their social media profiles on their feed or in their stories on Instagram, videos on YouTube and TikTok, or Facebook updates, etc.

This is a phenomenon which has been referred to as influencer marketing De Veirman et al. This definition of influencer marketing can be found in the guidelines of some advertising self-regulatory bodies e. Hence, the branded content or advertising is fully integrated in the media content children are consuming Hudders et al. Moreover, despite clear guidelines from governmental regulators for mandatory disclosures of these endorsements e. As a result, children Folkvord et al. Most of the studies on influencer marketing focus on an adult audience and examine how influencers affect the purchase decisions of their followers e.

Therefore, this paper aims to theoretically outlay how social media influencers, as a new source in advertising, target and affect young children. We focus on children under age 12 as they are highly vulnerable to advertising. Their advertising literacy, all knowledge and skills related to advertising, is not yet fully developed Hudders et al. The cognitive abilities, emotion regulation, and moral development are still immature for children under 12 John, ; Rozendaal et al. These abilities help them to understand the persuasive intent of advertising and strategies used to persuade them, control the emotions that advertisements may arouse, and evaluate the fairness and appropriateness of advertising e.

A strongly developed advertising literacy is indispensable to be able to critically reflect on advertising and avoid subconscious persuasion Hudders et al. Not surprisingly, several studies have shown that children under 12 have difficulties to cope with embedded advertising e. Accordingly, specific corporate actions and self-regulations apply for children under 12 in order to protect them from advertising influence.

Sinceinfluencer marketing has been included in this agreement. The purpose of this review is threefold. First, the research aims to provide insights into the importance of social media influencers as a source in advertising targeting children. During childhood, children encounter different advertising sources shaping their tastes and preferences, trying to turn them into brand loyalists as they grow older. Second, this paper provides a review of the current limited academic research on influencer marketing targeted at children.

Additionally, societal and policy implications of this tactic in the context of prior research are discussed. Third, a future research agenda that may foster academic research on the topic is included. This way, we hope our review may provide a basis for marketing-related regulation, policies, and parent intervention strategies and thus help ensure the protection of children.

The importance of the source as sender of the object of information has been well recognized in the communication and advertising literature. Already inLaswell emphasized that every communication involves a message, a medium, a recipient, and a source Lasswell, For instance, source credibility plays a critical role in how consumers evaluate brands and products, whereby a positive evaluation of the credibility of the source is likely to translate into positive advertising outcomes Sternthal et al.

Source credibility consists of two dimensions: trustworthiness and expertise. Both trustworthiness and expertise have been found to enhance advertising effectiveness Amos et al. Even among children, using attractive peer models has been shown to increase advertising effectiveness e. Source attractiveness is driven by factors such as perceived similarity, familiarity, and likeability of the source.

Indeed, as sources in advertising usually show the usefulness of the product they endorse and how to use it, this action may lead to observational learning and modeling of their behavior accordingly Bandura et al. Moreover, next to family and friends, sources used in advertising may serve as role models they refer to in their identity formation Lloyd, ; Hoffner and Buchanan, As a result, when advertising sources are paired with products, the positive affective responses toward those sources may transfer onto the products Acuff and Reiher, ; McNeal, ; de Droog et al.

To conclude, the likelihood of the former process to occur increases when consumers develop a parasocial relationship parasocial interaction; PSI with the source Tsay-Vogel and Schwartz, PSI, as introduced by Horton and Wohlrefers to the relationships consumers develop with media characters, making them important sources of information Rubin et al.

Accordingly, when consumers identify with a source and their brand-usage behavior, they will likely adopt this behavior Naderer et al. The above theoretical insights explain the success of sources used in advertising in general. As such, this robust body of literature has demonstrated that the source in the message is important for persuasion effects. These processes may also apply to social media influencers. Before discussing how influencers may affect children, we will first provide an overview of the different sources that are used in advertising targeting children and discuss how influencers evolved as a new source in advertising.

Brands often display anthropomorphized or fantasy characters in their advertising and on their product packaging. These cartoon-like figures can be created by the brand with the sole purpose of promoting their products and services i.

Peanut Planters. These characters are in full ownership of the brand, which implies a very high level of control over the source and its message. However, as it takes a lot of development and marketing efforts to build awareness and affinity for these characters, brands may also opt to a character from media companies [i. Examples of d characters that are used by brands are numerous.

McDonalds d different characters over time to endorse their happy meals e. Contractual agreements allow them to use the characters for merchandizing and cross-promotions Kraak and Story, ; Smits et al. For instance, in the fourth quarter ofU. Furthermore, these characters do not age or change much over time, which makes their employability less timely as compared to human endorsers. There are multiple reasons why these sorts of sources are attractive for children.

First, these simply drawn, colorful and funny characters appeal to them and are easy to remember, which is helpful given the limited cognitive abilities of young children de Droog et al. Second, children easily form parasocial relationships with these likeable and fun characters de Droog et al. Moreover, as these characters are now finding their way onto social media e.

Third, the pairing of brands with popular cartoon media characters is not only limited to packaging and traditional advertising, but also takes on more integrated forms. As these placements are embedded in the media content, children may experience extra difficulties recognizing the persuasive intent of these placements see De Jans et al.

Given their persuasiveness, European food brands have agreed not to use d characters e. Company-owned, brand mascots e. For instance, brands may tie child celebrities to their products and use them as endorsers.

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Children look up to these publicly recognized figures who may serve as role-models to them Read, ; Power and Smith, Brands aim for an image-transfer, hoping that positive associations attached to celebrities will transfer to the brands those celebrities endorse McCracken,and children will wish to identify with them as they aspire to be like the celebrity Kamins et al. Celebrity endorsement as an advertising strategy has been widely researched among adult populations see Knoll and Matthes, for a reviewbut has also been found a valuable strategy to target children as it may impact their attitudes, preferences, and behaviors e.

Research on the impact of celebrity endorsement on children has mainly focused on food marketing and has found that celebrities and athletes who are popular among minors typically endorse energy-dense and nutrient-poor products e. On the other hand, despite their pd lower advertising literacy, children do have a fairly good understanding of celebrity endorsement, which they develop at an earlier age compared to their understanding of other advertising techniques Rozendaal et al.

As an alternative to using celebrities as endorsers, advertising aimed at children typically presents unknown actors and models interacting with or consuming branded products. Indeed, gaining peer acceptance and approval is important to children Mangleburg et al. This has shown to be particularly effective when the peer is of the same age or slightly older than themselves Brody and Stoneman, For instance, a content analysis of food marketing targeted at children found that these children are typically depicted as happy, playing with friends and enjoying the foods offered to them, thus conveying the indirect message that children will be happier when they consume these foods Hebden et al.

The rise of social media introduced a new type of peer endorsement, namely social media influencers. In the following section, we will describe the rise of these social media influencers as a new source in advertising to target young children. The proliferation of social network sites has extended the reach of word-of-mouth and amplified the impact of peer recommendations, which can now be shared one-to-many Lyons and Henderson, ; Boyd and Ellison, ; Knoll, Children today are audiences and creators of media.

For instance, children are able to share online reviews e. As peers are believed to have no commercial interest, they are perceived as authentic and credible sources of information. As a result, children and their parents may be less resistant toward their endorsements compared to brand-originated marketing communication and sources de Vries et al.

Accordingly, brands aim to encourage and reward eWOM e. However, the high credibility and impact of these real-world endorsers may be offset by their uncontrollability Yang, This way, brands may leverage the power of word-of-mouth while re-gaining control as official agreements between brands and the influencers are made. Influencers will likely be positive as they wish to remain loyal toward the brands they receive incentives from De Veirman et al.

Some children indeed managed to build a large audience of followers or subscribers on their media channels, which are often run by their parents Novacic, They mostly maintain multiple social media s, with Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube as the most important ones on which they post entertaining and inspiring content De Veirman et al. As a high of followers and likes are likely to result in a wide reach of the commercial message, these remain key metrics for brands, influencer agencies, and platforms aiming to identify and select appropriate influencers for their campaigns.

This unfortunately also contributes to malicious practices of influencers buying fake followers and likes, for instance, through bots and clickfarms, to artificially inflate their perceived influencer status.

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