Are Ads That Appeal To Youths A Waste Of Time?

By: Selena McIntyre

Believe it or not, young people are an advertiser’s best investment. Yet they are ignored and pushed aside by most salesmen. These salesmen seem to think that selling to teenagers is a complete waste of time. Apparently these salesmen do not want these young people to start using their product at age 16, and continue to use it for the rest of their lives. I’m also sure they do not realize that teenagers and young children influence over $160 Billion worth of their parents buying decisions every year.

Children (Age 0-12)

Some people think that they should not waste their time and money advertising to a six-year old child. However, these people could not be more wrong. Young children spend an average of $11 billion each year on items of their choice. Six-year olds today own and purchase toys, clothes, food, computer games, DVD movies, pagers, CD’s, four-wheelers, and even stereo systems.

Youths & Media

Young children respond most to television and internet ads because these ads are interesting to them. These youths view an average of three and a half hours of television every single day. The majority of this television time is weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings.

Youths click on internet ads more than any other age group. Perhaps this is because they do not ignore advertising as much as older people do, or they enjoy the colorful moving graphics.

Ad Designs for Children

Young children are attracted to fun, humorous, exciting ads. They care more about the neat features of toys, and how good a snickers bar tastes than the price of a certain product.

Perfection is another appealing quality for children. Most youngsters try to please their parents and teachers by doing exactly what they are told exactly when they are told. They try to be perfect or more commonly known as “Daddy’s Little Angel.” So it’s no wonder why children are going to want the products that have the perfect models, perfect toys, and perfect food. (Of course we all want our products to be “perfect,” but we soon realize that nothing is perfect.)

Children tend to believe what they see in advertisements. The reason for this is that children in this age group are honest and expect everyone else to be the same. The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) is dedicated to making sure all ads are true and not misleading for children.


Teens spend enormous amounts of cash each year ($94 billion in 1998) because they have high disposal incomes. This means that teenagers spend their allowances or income from part time jobs on items they want, not things they actually need.

Being a teenager is all about fitting in with the crowd. Even though most teens like to think of themselves as individuals, they still dress exactly like their peers and, or idols.

Brand names are very, very important to teens. Teenagers don’t just buy a pair of shoes; they buy a pair of Adidas or Nikes. Most teens tend to feel unimportant, unpopular, and unhappy if they don’t wear top of the line clothing, shoes, and accessories.

However, teens are always looking for discounts, contests, sales, and any way to save money so they can buy more stuff. They are not ready for responsibilities like paying bills (exception: cell phones & pagers which most parents pay). Instead, they prefer to pay at the time the purchase is made.

Teens & Media Types

According to a recent survey by Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU), radio is the most effective way to reach teenagers. Television ranked second, and magazines came in third place. Newspapers rated at the bottom of this survey. This makes perfect sense because most teenagers stay in their bedrooms to listen to music, study, watch television, surf the web, and drive places to meet friends. The radio is usually turned on during four out of the five listed favorite teenage pass-times.

Since radio is so popular with teens it only makes sense to design music oriented ads for teens. Of course you can place ads on the radio to reach these teen, but by you can also get a popular rock group or singer to endorse your product. If a popular musician starts using your product, the teenage fans would definitely notice and start using the same exact product.

Over 48% of teens read at least one magazine per month. Boys tend to read more gaming magazines, and girls are interested in magazines about young celebrities.

Ad Designs for Teens

The best way to design ads for teens is to go back to your teenage years. What kind of things were you interested in? What did you like to do in you spare time? What caught you attention?

Now update your answers. Instead of listening to A-Tracks, young people today listen to CD’s, instead of having a picnic in the woods teens today “cruise” malls, and instead of reading a book, teens today go see the movie or watch it on a DVD. Some of these things will still be the same, like wanting to dress like the most popular boy or girl at school so you’ll fit in.

Next take all of these positive emotions that have resurfaced and design your ads in a way that will make todays teenagers feel the same emotions.

Finally, make your product relate to these emotions. Show teenagers how using your cell phone will make them feel hip and up-to-date. Emotions sell products.

Don’t forget to try humorous ads. They rank number 1 for people of all ages.

Last but not least, remember that what’s popular with teens today may not be popular tomorrow. As an advertiser, we must stay up to date with the latest trends in order to have effective ads.


Television advertising is the best way to catch the attention of younger children. As these children grow up, they spend less time watching TV and more time on-line, listening to the radio, and reading magazines.

Always remember that young people do not earn a lot of money, but most of them do not save money at all. The few youths that do save their money save it in order to buy the latest pair of shoes, cell phone, or comic book. For these reasons you should now see why young people truly are a gold mine for advertisers.

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Lippe, Dan February 4, 2002 “What Children Say About Media and Advertising”
The Better Business Bureau, “Advertising And Your Child”
“Just The Facts about Advertising and Marketing to Children”
Aidman, Amy “Advertising in the Schools. ERIC Digest”
Saunders, Christopher “Kids Click Banner Ads Most, Teens Least”,,12_437941,00.html
Lippe, Dan February 4, 2002 “What Children Say About Media and Advertising”
The Better Business Bureau, “Advertising And Your Child”
“Just The Facts about Advertising and Marketing to Children”
Aidman, Amy “Advertising in the Schools. ERIC Digest”
Saunders, Christopher “Kids Click Banner Ads Most, Teens Least”,,12_437941,00.html

2 Responses to “Are Ads That Appeal To Youths A Waste Of Time?”

  1. Dacey Says:

    Is there a way to locate someone locally to try this?

  2. Celestine Iezzi Says:

    Will this work for both men and women?

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