Teens need to be aware of online advertising models

  • Awareness
  • 15/12/2016
  • Christina, Greek youth panellist

Hearing the views and the voices of youth is an important part of the work we do in aiming to create a better internet for kids. As part of our December 2016 edition of the BIK bulletin which focuses on online adverting and the commercialisation of childhood, we asked some of our youth panellists their views. Here, Christina from Greece shares her viewpoint.

Online advertising has become the prevalent method of product promotion for many companies. It tends to replace traditional advertising methods, and companies that sell their products exclusively online often seem to prevail. The business model changes rapidly, and companies have found a way to promote their products at a lower cost to a larger audience, often to consumers who reside all over the world. But how does this shape our purchasing habits and our life in general? Especially when, every time we go online, we are bombarded with online advertisements?

One thing companies try to exploit in order to promote different products to teenagers in Greece, and I think more or less everywhere, is the fact that teenagers are very much interested about their image. Hence companies exploit this fact in order to advertise items that can help them improve their image and look cool and trendy.

Another significant element of online advertising is the fact that it is personalised, which is clear evidence that companies that go online to promote their products take advantage of all the information we enter when we use the internet so that they display products that are directly related to our interests. It is very common that companies take advantage of the data we enter online like, for example, tastes, preferences, interests, even location data sometimes and exploit them for targeted advertisements to teenagers. Although, at first glance, it may seem innocent to exploit someone's preferences in order to advertise to them items that may be of interest instead of irrelevant products, at times it can be embarrassing. For example, you may search for something that you wouldn't like other people to know about, but related items will then start appearing on your screen. Furthermore, it does not seem right for companies to benefit from data they collect about people, often without their consent. One solution to avoid this effect would be to use private browsing: although not widely used among teenagers at the moment, it is increasingly being used by older teens especially.

In general, I try not to be influenced by online advertising, and I think it is similar for children of my age (teenagers) in Greece. It definitely does not influence my online purchasing habits. One reason is that teenagers in Greece cannot make online purchases directly, but only with the assistance of their parents who have a credit card and a bank account. Teenagers only buy specific things like, for example, a new model of shoe of a specific brand, or a mobile phone or an electronic device that may not be yet available in Greece, or because the product is cheaper if purchased online. Another issue is that parents can judge better if the site they want to buy from is a trustworthy one. Many of the companies that go online sell products that are not authentic, and there any many people that order online and then never get the products they ordered because the companies were not real.

I would say that online advertising mostly influences my conventional buying habits but only for very specific things. I usually avoid asking my parents to get something online, unless I see that it is much cheaper, and also after they check that the online buying site is a trusted one. For example, this year, my mother bought our school textbooks online from a very successful Greek company which sells books and computers. It is a relatively new company but it has very quickly become very successful. And although there is a physical store of this brand in downtown Heraklion (the city which I live in), the books were cheaper to get online from the same store. So that is what we did.

I believe that, in the future, more and more companies will go online, even exclusively, to reduce costs, thus changing the entire business and purchasing model as we know it today. Personally, I'm not certain I like this model completely because sometimes I go shopping with my friends to buy clothes and it is a lot of fun. So I really hope we will continue to have conventional stores, at least for some things.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Better Internet for Kids Portal, European Schoolnet, the European Commission or any related organisations or parties.

About the author of this article:

Christina studies at a school in Crete, Greece. She is a member of the Greek youth panel and recently attended the European Youth Panel (YEP) in Luxembourg in November 2016, when she also contributed to discussions and debates at the Safer Internet Forum (SIF).


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