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Studies

Young people appear less vulnerable to advertising on social networking sites

19-01-2011

But those with parents of non-western origin and less well-educated young people are less likely to realise the intentions of commercial messages

Young people are well aware that companies attempt to contact and influence them via social media such as Hyves and Facebook. They rarely take up offers that are made to them via these types of social networking sites and if they do, the offers primarily concern ‘groups’ that young people have opted to join themselves. These and other findings have emerged in a survey that was published today entitled ‘Young people and their views on advertising on social networking sites’ by the Dutch youth campaign organisation NJR and the Consumer Authority. The survey was conducted amongst 830 young people on the NJR panel.

Almost all young people have a profile on one or more social networking sites. More than half spend more than 1.5 hours per day on these sites, whilst 10% say that they devote as much as 5 to 10 hours per day to their social networking activities.

Responding to commercial messages

The study looked at three different ways in which companies make attempts to contact and influence young people: namely via groups and games that are connected with a particular product or brand or by means of personal messages. It seems that young people ignore these advertising strategies, or make use of them only if they stand to benefit from them personally. For example, the majority of young people (63%) have joined a group that is connected with a particular product or brand. Six out of ten young people receive offers through this group and almost a quarter take them up.

Young people are less likely (8%) to respond to offers that they receive, often unsolicited, after playing a game on a social networking site. Offers that are sent to young people through personal messages, without them having played a game or having otherwise encountered a company first, are even less effective: only 5% of young people have ever purchased something as the result of an offer of this type.

It would appear that young people do not have any objections to companies making use of social networking sites in order to advertise and a quarter of them believe it to be a good idea. However, many young people (59%) are warned about misleading advertisements, primarily by parents, school or friends.

Vulnerable groups

The effectiveness of commercial messages on social networking sites seems therefore to depend upon the young people themselves. However, it has been found that young people with parents of non-western origin and less well-educated young people are more vulnerable to commercial advertising that they encounter on their networking sites. They are less aware of the fact that companies use the networking sites to advertise themselves and furthermore, it has been found that less well-educated young people are more likely to take up an offer.

Consumer rights

Almost four in ten young people would like to be informed of their rights as consumers. They can find information about this on www.ConsuWijzer.nl , the government's helpdesk for consumers. ConsuWijzer offers consumers practical advice with regard to their rights and provides resources that they can use to take action themselves if they encounter issues with a company.

NJR panel

The NJR organisation frequently polls a group of young people known as the NJR panel. The surveys provide suggestions for alternative policies or ways in which existing ones can be improved. The results of the study entitled ‘Young people and their views on advertising on social networking sites’ can be ordered by sending an e-mail to info@njr.nl.

The Consumer Authority

The Consumer Authority is the enforcement authority on consumer rights and fair practice and promotes fair trading between companies and consumers, with the economic interests of consumers forming the basis. The most important tasks in this regard are tackling collective infringements and raising awareness of rights and obligations. The Consumer Authority is a service provided by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation.

NJR

The NJR organisation employs young people, as well as hundreds of volunteers to run (media) campaigns and projects for young people. It provides young people with the opportunity to showcase who they are and what they can do, from in their local area right up to the UN. In addition, NJR advises authorities and a variety of other organisations with regard to youth policy.