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Advertising Sources

The reach of advertising continues to grow in today's culture.


  • The average American child may view as many as 40,000 commercials every year. Four hours of television programming contain approximately 100 ads.
  • Marketers spend at least $15 billion a year targeting children. 1
  • In foreign countries, governments have strictly regulated advertising to children. Sweden and Norway forbid TV ads aimed at kids under 12. Greece does not allow toy advertising on TV between 7 am and 10 pm. Quebec prohibits TV commercials directed at preteens or younger.
  • Children who watch a lot of television want more toys seen in ads and eat more advertised food than children who do not watch as much television.


  • A survey of Canadian children ages 9 to 17 shows that 99 percent have been on the Internet, and 79 percent have access at home.
  • Kids’ favorite activities on the Web involve music, e-mail, surfing and games, often sponsored by large brand-name corporations.
  • Web sites, search engines and even some school sites are often supported by businesses that include direct advertising.
  • Databases of child customers are being built from information gathered on Internet sign-ups and chat rooms, from electronic toy registries at such stores as Toys ’R’ Us, and from direct surveys.
  • Nickelodeon has five kid-targeted web properties that together reach 3 million or more unique visitors a month. In 2007 the Network claimed that digital-dollars made up almost a third of its billion-dollar intake, compared to only one tenth a few years ago. 2
  • According to research firm EMarketer Inc., as many as 20 million children and teens will visit virtual worlds by 2011, up from 8.2 million in 2007. The number of children's sites with no advertising or branding is almost negligible. 3
  • A 2005 report counted 29 million U.S. kids between the ages of 8 to 14. Nearly 90 percent of these children are now online and have a combined annual purchasing power of $40 billion. 4


  • A Massachusetts company called BusRadio is reaching more than 1 million students in 23 states. Besides music, its program includes four minutes of paid ads per hour. 5
  • “Education posters” in hallways advertise candy.
  • Brand-name foods are served and promoted in school cafeterias.
  • Reading programs sometimes offer reward coupons to be redeemed at well-known restaurants.
  • Some school buses have ads placed on their sides and tops.
  • Up to 40 percent of the books sold at a typical school book fair are linked to a movie, television show, or video game. In 2006, Scholastic generated $404 million in revenue using major companies such as Disney and Nickelodeon to attract school children. 6
  • Schools receive a percentage of sales of branded products during fund-raising events.

Other Ad Avenues

  • Fast-food marketing is one contributor to obesity in children. American children see 27 food ads on TV for every public service announcement promoting healthy eating. 7
  • Nearly one of every three toys that American kids receive annually comes from fast-food restaurants. 8
  • A 2004 study of junior and senior high school students found that of the 69 percent that own cell phones, 17 percent are receiving and reading advertisements on their phones. 9
  • Advertisers spent close to $164 million reaching consumers on their mobile devices in 2007. By 2011, this amount is expected to drastically increase to $2.3 billion. 10
  • Toys are starting to carry product placements; for example, Barbie dolls carrying Coca Cola accessories.

1W. Greg Rybert, Sen. "Don't hold children hostage to ads,"*Island Packet, Opinion (March 2, 2008). Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, accessed March 20, 2008.
2Andrew Hampp, "Nickelodeon Sees Digital Dollars Surge on 'Multi-Splatform' Approach," (February 25, 2008). Accessed March 20, 2008.
3Lena Sin, "Children’s Playtime Now Fun Time for Big-time Advertisers,"*The Province (February 7, 2008). Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, accessed March 20, 2008.
4Carleen Hawn, "Time to Play, Money to Spend,"*Business 2.0 Magazine (March 23, 2007)., accessed March 20, 2008.
5Ron Barnett, "Bus Ads Create a Storm,"*The Greenville News (February 5, 2008). Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, accessed March 20, 2008.
6JoshGolin, "Putting the Book Back In Book Fair,"*Mothering (January, 2007). Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, accessed March 26, 2008.
7Sarah Green, "T.O. Health Officer: Ban sugary ads that target kids under 13,”*Toronto Sun (February 3, 2008). Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, accessed March 20, 2008.
8Nathan Dungan, "Marketing to Kids Hits Bump in the Road,”*Edge Life (June 2006). Accessed March 20, 2008.
9"January/February 2006 Key Findings Newsletter - Marketing/Planning: Advertising to Teens via Cell Phones,” Saurage (January/February 2006). Accessed March 26, 2008.
10"Key Findings Newsletter - Advertising: Mobile Advertising,” Saurage (January/February 2008). Accessed March 26, 2008.

Featured Websites
From Focus on the Family
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