New media, old theories, existing regulation: the need to re-examine effects and effectiveness

Eagle, Lynne (2009) New media, old theories, existing regulation: the need to re-examine effects and effectiveness. Advertising Education Forum, 1. 4. pp. 52-65.

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In this paper, concerns about the impact of persuasive communication on children are reviewed and recommendations made regarding an integrated research programme to investigate the effects of new and emerging media forms, in tandem with more traditional mass media.

Although there is growing evidence that the influence of marketing activity on dietary and lifestyle choices is small, restrictions or outright bans on advertising to children are increasing, in an attempt to curb the growing levels of childhood obesity. There is evidence and expert opinion that bans are likely to be ineffective. The focus on regulation, and on media literacy programmes aimed at educating children about the persuasive nature of advertising, has been on traditional mass media. Many new and emerging media forms such as social networks, advergames, product placements and promotional tie-ins remain poorly understood and largely unregulated.

This has led to concern about the possible influence of these media forms on children who are particularly vulnerable to persuasive messages due to their lack of cognitive skills. What is frequently ignored is that children and adolescents are also the targets of many social marketing or health promotion campaigns aimed at changing behaviours in relation to issues such as exercise, diet, smoking or drug usage. Whether or how these new media forms can be used to effectively communicate positive messages remains largely un-researched.

While traditional media still appears to play a significant role in many people's lives, the growth of new, primarily electronic, media has been well documented in both academic and practitioner media. What is not known is how children interact with and are influenced by both traditional and new media, both individually and in simultaneous-use combinations and what influence exposure to persuasive messages has on brand preference and consumption or receptivity to messages aimed at changing behaviours in relation to issues such as smoking, drug usage or dietary and lifestyle issues such as physical activity.

There is also a lack of research available regarding the impact of cultural factors on media preferences and a need for considerably more research into the implications of variations in message framing preferences across countries. Without this, effective pan-European regulations or social marketing interventions may be hampered.

There is also the need to re-examine the established concepts and theories underpinning communication processes and to ensure that they remain relevant within the rapidly evolving communications environment. Research programmes are needed that involve testing and / or extending existing theories together with the development of new theories that encapsulate the complexities of the new – and likely future - media environment.

By gaining a detailed understanding of these factors, public policy and regulatory decision-making will be enhanced as will the potential effectiveness of social marketing interventions aimed at improving the health and well-being of children and adolescents.

Item ID: 20368
Item Type: Article (Non-Refereed Research)
Keywords: new media, theories, regulations, marketing, children
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2013 01:37
FoR Codes: 15 COMMERCE, MANAGEMENT, TOURISM AND SERVICES > 1505 Marketing > 150502 Marketing Communications @ 100%
SEO Codes: 91 ECONOMIC FRAMEWORK > 9104 Management and Productivity > 910403 Marketing @ 100%
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