Start Date: August 2011

ID #: 69174

Principal Investigator: Jeffrey Chester, MSW

Co-Principal Investigator: Kathryn Montgomery, PhD

Organization: Center for Digital Democracy

Funding Round: Rapid-Response Round 4

See more related research


Food and beverage marketing to youth using social media has grown dramatically, with the leading companies pioneering digital practices that are transforming both advertising and ad measurement. It is critically important for the research, advocacy and public policy communities to be informed about these major new practices. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in particular, is in need of an independent analysis that assesses how these techniques are currently being used in the food and beverage marketplace, especially as the commission faces important upcoming policy decisions that will have a major impact on digital marketing to children and youth. The aims of this project are to: 1) identify the leading vendors of social media marketing tools, especially those used by food and beverage companies; 2) analyze the specific business objectives of leading food companies who use social media; 3) document the role of these new techniques to market food and beverage products, and assess their capabilities; 4) identify how food marketers are currently using them to target youth; 5) assess how social media platforms are affecting other media channels and advertising of food products, including mobile devices; and 6) explore the impact these methods may have on nutrition decisions of youth.

Related Research

July 2022

Reducing Student Exposure to Digital Food and Beverage Marketing

Digital marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children and adolescents is pervasive and undermines healthy eating. During the COVID-19 pandemic, students’ time spent online for both recreation and school using educational technology doubled from 3.8 to 7.7 hours per day for 12- to13-year-olds, and racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities widened with children of color More

April 2022

Food Marketing Practices of Major Online Grocery Retailers in the United States, 2019-2020

Food marketing influences consumers’ preferences for and selection of marketed products. Although a substantial body of research has described food-marketing practices in brick-and-mortar stores, no research has examined food marketing in online grocery retail despite its growing importance as a source of food-at-home purchases. This study aimed to develop and apply a coding instrument to More

March 2022

Kid Influencer Marketing: Gaps in Current Policies and Research

Most food advertisements that children see are for unhealthy foods and beverages. Paying “influencers”—online celebrities with large social media fan bases—to endorse or promote products on their social media accounts is a relatively new tool that companies use to market their products. Engaging kid influencers has the added bonus of reaching younger audiences. Kids may More