So What’s New?

So, What’s New for 2009?

Posted in Uncategorized by pmaurer74 on December 22, 2008
Image from

Image from

Since the end of the year is coming upon us quickly, blogs and articles are flooding my inbox with horoscopes into the future of New Media. Some earlier predictions in the year came true and others did not due to the current economic situation. This post gleans some interesting points from a few articles that have different opinions.

Steve Rubel believes that we will be completely digital within five years. or almost completely digital. An example of this is the declining print newspaper and along with it, its ad revenues. The newspaper’s competitor is now products like the Kindle which is sold out until Februaries. Newspapers and magazines need to embrace this type of technology and take advantage of it before it’s too late. Artwork will no longer be static. Marketers will be able to program their ads to change depending upon if the viewer has already seen the ad on a different site.

Pete Blackshaw predicts that users will be sick and tired of social media and every gadget and widget that comes along. the novelty of the coolness of the applications that are fun to play with like toys on Christmas morning, are no longer played with by the New Year’s day. Blackshaw believes that marketing will go back to the basics of advertising and connecting with customers. He says that having real conversations will customers will win out of virtual ones. Diversity will become a necessity in advertising as well as companies reinforcing their trustworthiness as consumers are becoming skeptical of the company’ ethics that they are doing business with. Mobile phones and PDAs will continue to make marketing available to the consumer anywhere at any time.

Andrew Hampp forecasts that radio will continue to make the transition into the digital realm. Online radio advertising revenue has grown 9 % to $1.34 billion in the first three quarters of 2008. Clear Channel, one of the top two radio groups, said that it had a 24% audience growth in 2008 reaching 20 million listeners.

I think that in 2009 we will see a crunch in spending in the adveritsing market. Every day there are articles about hundreds of layoffs in the advertising industry. Companies will expect more money out of their marketing and may try some home grown efforts with the internet and social marketing. I see a lot of articles on how to market on social networks so we will be seeing more out of that area for awhile. I believe that there will be a huge growth in mobile marketing in the next few years. As kids spend more time online and at home playing games, there will continue to be more advergaming as a result.  Companies need to spend 2009 getting to know their consumers again and encourage them to interact with them.

Happy New Year and a great 2009!

For more information on the above articles, please read:

For Radio, Digital Moves Pay Off in 2008 by Andrew Hampp

Consumers to Suffer from Social Media Indigestion in 2009 by Pete Blackshaw

How Digital Media Will Deliver Tangible Benefits by Steve Rubel


Should Video Marketing be in the Media Mix?

Posted in Uncategorized by pmaurer74 on December 21, 2008
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So, what do you think? Is this video marketing ad real? Does it matter? If you think that the company is trying to mislead you by faking a video, does this make you respect the company less? Or since we are skeptical about advertising anyway is it fun for us to try to figure out if it is real? People have gone so far as to prove how this video could be faked. I wonder how many hours have been spent trying to figure it out. Is this good or bad for the company? Videos like this really take a chance messing with the consumer, however it could pay off for them if it generates a lot of attention.

Video marketing is becoming more popular as consumers are spending more time online with websites like YouTube. According to ComScore, Americans watched 9 billion online videos in July of 2007 alone. However, people are checking out more than just YouTube videos, they are watching TV shows and movies online as well. This brings in many opportunities for marketers to advertise online using video marketing.

So, what is so appealing about video marketing? ABI Research predicts that online video users will grow from 563 million in 2008 to over 941 million by 2013. Video marketing is a great media to use because to engages the viewers on many levels, including: site, sound, and motion. Good videos will be shared among family friends via email. This is one of the only forms of media that instigate this kind of response.

So what makes a good video?

1. Great content and quality

2. Effective keywords and descriptions for search engines to find the video

3. A good thumbnail to peak the viewers interest

4. Good marketing

5. Engage the quickly, 50% of viewers leave after the first 60 seconds and 10% after the first few seconds

Do you think an mature YouTube type look is more affective than a professional video? I think it depends on what you are doing.  For instance, a college might consider a YouTube style video to show a day in the life of a student, however they may consider using a professional quality video to highlight the college itself and its programs. Videos can be used for more than just advertising. Videos can be used for training, customer service, public relations, or public service announcements.

Video marketing is a great way to engage consumers. It is one of the most powerful media used to evoke emotion from the viewer, making them laugh or cry while still telling the marketing message. (Tubemogul, 2007)

For more on this topic, please see:

Web Video Marketing – Best Practices

Podcasting Uses for Business

Viral Video Hits Blur the Authenticity Line

Report: Over-the-Top Driving Viewership

Web Video Marketing – Best Practices

Much Ado About SPAM, Nuisance or Necessity?

Posted in Uncategorized by pmaurer74 on December 19, 2008
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image from

image from

When I think of the word SPAM, three things come to mind: minced meat in a can, Monty Python, and annoying unwanted email. This post is about the later of course. Can email be useful and profitable for users and marketers, or is it just a waste of time and money?

It is estimated that Spam accounts for 60% of all email and that it costs companies over $10 billion annually as employees spend time checking and deleting their email. As a result of all this unwanted email, 50% of users do not trust email. The user is afraid of privacy concerns, false email identities, viruses, or fraud. However, if we ban email, are we stepping on the principles of free marketing? We accept that we get junk mail, but when it comes into our home through the phone or email, it is considered and invasion of privacy. Will we be soon registering our email addresses on a do not Spam email list?

So Spam emails sound like a nuisance but do they really work? A test was done by The University of California, Berkeley and UC, San Diego with 75,869 hijacked computers to see what the response rate would be for some fictional email campaigns. When the user clicked on the link, the link would not work. About 469 million junk emails were sent out over the a 26 day time period, only 28 sales resulted. This is a 0.00001% response rate. Sounds horrible. However, on a much larger scale, this email campaign with others could make companies $7,000 per day. Since it costs little to send emails, this is a great return.

According to “Will Can-Spam Affect You?” by LaToya Deann Rembert (link no longer valid), Spam emails must follow specific rules however to be considered legitimate:

• They must be labeled as an advertisement

• It has to have an opt-out link

• It has to have a legitimate company mailing address at the bottom

• It must have a working, real return email address

• It cannot have a misleading subject line header

So the marketer has all the rules checked off and in place, but the response rate and send rate still isn’t very good. According to Email Marketer: Email Wost Practices” by Bill McCloskey (link no longer valid) here are several items that can be done to give your email a better chance of being received:

• Make sure there are no broken links

• Check for mistakes in the email addresses like two @@’s

• Check your email on several browsers including Mac’s and older browsers

• Make sure the slashes aren’t backwards in links like http:\\ when it should be

• Check to make sure the time stamp is correct, some marketers will put future dates to make sure that their email appears at the top of the inbox

Email marketing remains to be one of the most profitable forms of marketing reaching large amounts of people. Email marketing does not have to be used only for advertising, it can be used for market research and customer service purposes. You can earn your customers trust by sending them emails that will help them rather then sell to them.

What do you think? Email marketing: nuisance or necessity?

This information came from course readings:

Effective Email Marketing 2004: Ten Things to Think About this Year

Email Worst Practices: A Must-Read Primer on Bad Email Practices

Will Can-Spam Affect You?

Should Spam be on the Menu?

Other Resources:

Study Shows How Spammers Cash In

Ethics for Search Engines and The Advertisers Who Use Them

Image from

Image from

This week’s topic in class was on Ethics in Search Engines. I will expand this post to Advertising ethics using search engines as well. I never knew until a few days ago that when I used to hide keywords on website using the same color text as the background that this was considered unethical in the world of search engines and that you could be severly punished. I had no clue. I also found out that I was right in telling my client not to used 200 pages of keywords in the meta tags section of his website. I refused to do it. I was also right that it as nuts to use vague keywords and ones that had nothing to do with his industry in the meta tags.

Before I read the articles this week, I knew a little bit about Search Engine Optimization with websites including using metatags, keywords, descriptions, alt tags for images, and other little things to enhance the chance that my websites will be seen by search engines. I also knew I could pay a lot more to have special companies optimize my websites for me. I have also paid for sponsorships and entertained paying for higher results in search engine placements. I had not known the extent of the search engine ethics issues and the extent that advertisers go to for better placement.

I see search engines as a service but they need to support themselves so they sell ad space or search results placements to advertisers. I don’t see this as being any different that an advertiser paying for television ads on TV. The TV station has to pay for its programming through the sale of ad space to sponsors and these sponsorships generate over $3 billion a year in revenue (NPR clip). However, to those that can’t afford the ad placement they would not rank very high on search engines. This can be a problem since 70% of users don’t go past the first page of search results. This doesn’t seem fair to the little guy but my design company can’t afford a search engine sponsorship but I’m not upset that I don’t get the top page placement for web designers. One of the problems with paid inclusions is that 60% of search engine users cannot tell the difference between a paid link and an unpaid link. Of these people, 80% felt that search engines should disclose which results as paid inclusions and sponsored results. (McLaughlin, 2002)

Search Engines don’t help the situation by either obscuring which links are sponsored links but sometimes not even disclosing which links are paid for and which ones are not. If they do disclose which links are sponsors it is in tiny type or a light grey type. I do not feel that paid sponsorships and inclusions are unethical as long as they are clearly marked that they are paid advertisements. They don’t have to be bright red in big bold type, I think that having a light grey small font as long as it is readable would be good enough. The paid inclusions should be separated from the other search results in it’s own section that is clearly defined. (Wouters, 2005)

An article I came across from iProspect, Search Engine Marketing Ethics,  gave a good list of Ethics an no-no’s for advertisers using search engines, they call is spamdexing:

• Using keywords that aren’t related to your website

• Causing search engine results to display your website more than once in the same search

• Submitting multiple pages of your website instead of its entirety

• Hiding keywords using the same colored text a the background

• Page-swapping, swapping our one page for another after a high ranking is achieved with the first page

• Page-jacking, stealing a competitors page and swapping out your page for theirs once you attain their rankings

• Keyword stuffing, reapeating the same keywords in hidden areas of the site

• Trademark hijacking, stealing competitors keywords and slogans and hiding them in your site

• Redirecting pages too quickly, after achieving the high rankings, redirecting people to another page

Does anyone have any thoughts on the ethics of search engines and the advertisers who use them? I had never thought about before this week.

For more reading on these topics, see:

Search Engine Marketing Ethics by iProspect (download the PDF)

The Straight Story on Search Engines
by Laurianne McLaughlin

Search Advertising (audio)

Still in Search of Disclosure by Wouters

Social Media… Can Be Worth the Energy

Posted in Uncategorized by pmaurer74 on December 16, 2008
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This image is from istock photo

This image is from istock photo

Social Networking seems to be a hot topic. I receive daily newsletters from several online marketing organizations and it seems like almost every day there is an article about social networking. “Social Networking, the Next Big New Media”, “Social Networking Marketing is a Flop”. I have read the arguments on both sides and have come to the conclusion that it is worthwhile if you are dedicated to putting in the time and energy to make CONNECTIONS with your consumers, not to sell something to them. What do you mean, don’t sell them anything? It goes against the grain and your guts doesn’t it? The fact is, people go online to chat with their friends and their family through places like MySpace, Facebook, or Twitter, not to buy a new car or try out a buy a new vacuum. As long as marketers keep this in mind, it’s gravy.

Companies seem to want to jump on the marketing bandwagon with social networking sites. Afterall, nearly 75% of internet users use social media platforms including 100 million Facebook users and 1 million Twitter users. A study by SurePayroll found that 55% of small companies think that having an online social presence would be beneficial. However, not all companies would benefit from being on these sites. They need to evaluate their marketing strategy and their online marketing strategy to see if it would work for them.

One of the problems with marketing in the social network arena is that people do not want to have their friends spammed by marketers. A Research firm, IDC published a study that found that 97% of people would not willingly use their friends for advertising purposes. If they found that this was happening, they would have negative feelings towards that brand. Also some of the targeting practices of these platforms can be a bit too targeted, maybe bordering on the invasion of privacy.

So why use social networking? Social marketing is all about interacting with the consumer. Getting to know what the user thinks and feels about your product in a safe environment that the user controls can be priceless. Sure, you may get some bumps and bruises along the way, however, the benefits of that the company can glean from this input is well worth it. Isn’t it valuable to know if your company is doing something wrong so you can fix it? It’s all about branding and image building. Having a Facebook profile, Twitter account and blog isn’t going far enough. Marketers need to reach out to the consumers and interact with them. Marketers also need to give up the urge to advertise to these users and let them have the reigns. Let the users know that there are real people behind the monitors.

Time and effort needs to be put into these types of media. You need someone on board that is into social media and can really draw the user out with their personality and energy. Typing only about company product information on your blog will not win you very many followers, instead, have them tell you about your product, what they would like to see in the future, and how the product can be better.

For more reading on this topic, please check out:

P&G Digital Guru Not SUre Marketers Belong on Facebook by Jack Neff (required AdAge Login)

How to Move From Conversation to Conversion in Social Media, the Communications Platform of the Future by David Kenny and Jack Klues

Social Web Now Mainstream by Brian Morrissey

Social Media Consultants: Snake Oil or Value Add? by Jennifer Laggio

Social Media Consultants: Snake Oil or Value Add? Part 2 by Jennifer Laggio

Growing Businesses ‘Believe Social marketing Has a Role to Play’ by Business Strata

Advertisers Face Hurdles on Social Networking Sites by Randall Stross

Web Design Ideas…

Posted in Uncategorized by pmaurer74 on December 12, 2008
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Skinny Cat Designs Website

Skinny Cat Designs Website

For class this week we had to review an article on web design and apply it to our IMC class and then review four other articles from classmates. This is where the content and ideas have come from for this post as well as the one below. This weekend, I have to propose a web design idea and justify why I made the choices I did with support from articles like the ones I reviewed. I find this to be a difficult exercise since I am a web designer by trade. It is hard to take a step back and look at your designs from a different point of view. The last post focused on the user, this one will focus upon the design itself.


My first article dealt with the importance of the home page “Home Page Goals” by Derek Powazek. Powazek believes that there are four main goals to keep in mind while designing home pages for websites: Answer the question “what is this place?”, don’t get in the repeat visitor’s way, show what’s new, and to provide consistent and reliable global navigation.

The home page is the most important page on the website, if you fail to engage your viewer immediately, than you have failed in your purpose of the website. The designer has only a few second to engage the viewer before the make the decision to stay within the site or to move on. First impressions are very important to website viewers with 65% of users surveyed stating they would not buy products from a website that was poorly designed. Users also ranked 50% of the time that design was the most important component when evaluating websites.

The first goal is to answer the question, “what is this place?”, if the website fails to answer that question immediately, the viewer will be irritated and confused and will leave the site. The text on the site should answer this question immediately using as few words as possible.

The second goal is to not get into the repeat visitor’s way. Making a new experience for both a new visitor and a repeat visitor helps keep the viewers interested and coming back again.

The third goal is to show them what’s new and give the user a reason to come back  again. If the viewer knows that they will have new information every time they go to the website, they will come back often. Powazek suggests using blogs as a way to accomplish this goal.

fourth goal is to provide consistent and global navigation. You don’t want your users getting lost and confused. Use the same button links on the home as you do everywhere else. A user should not have to learn a new navigation system every time they click on a link. (O Conner, 2004).


The second article is “Understand Web Design” by Jeffery Zeldman. Zeldman comments that it is difficult to design for websites if you do not understand how the web works and it’s hard to understand the web when those around you don’t understand it either.

Zeldman writes, “web design is the creation of digital environments that facilitate and encourage human activity; reflect or adapt to individual voices and content; and change gracefully over time while always retaining their identity.” This rather profound and true. It is difficult to engage viewers, adapt to their needs, and make changes over time while keeping their brand identity.

Zeldman also says that immature designs hate doing the conventional boxy looking websites, but it’s difficult to make websites flow right without using a grid. I think that until they make oval or circular monitor, we have to stick with boxes. They don’t make die-cut computes!


The third article I reviewed was “Design Choices Can Cripple a Website” by Nick Usbrone. Nick Usborne writes that although great copy, a compelling message, and a strong sales argument are important, they way a site is designed can make a great impact for better or worse. Design can also impact the text itself in bother positive and negative ways.

He mention not to lose focus that your website has a purpose and that most designers don’t understand the effects that their design choices have on meeting that purpose. Some of those choices are:
• The position and color of the primary call to action
• Where the testimonials are located on the page
• Are the links images or text?
• The amount of white space on the page
• The position and prominence of the main header
• Number of columns used on the page
• The number of visual elements competing for the viewers attention
• The age, sex, and appearance of someone

Usborne goes on to say that testing different versions of your website and text with real users is very critical and not to skip this important step. The results of their test surprised them as the clear winning design was not the one they were favoring. As a result, we will all become better designers and writers.

By keeping in mind the goals of the home page, the purpose of each element on the site, and understanding why we design web pages the way we do can remind those of us who do this for a living how to make better design choices. I know I get into designs ruts and prefer designing pretty sites to functional sites.

For further reading on the topic of web design, please consider:

Duncan, Tom, (2005). Principles of Advertising & IMC (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill

Ten Things I Hate in a Website by Jason O’Connor

Home Page Goals by David Powazek

Design Choices Can Cripple a Website by Nick Usborne

Designing Websites with the User in Mind

Posted in Uncategorized by pmaurer74 on December 11, 2008
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eye1The idea and content for this post has come from two articles I read this week on web design and the user.

As a designer you have no idea who is on the other end of that monitor, what type of browser they are using, whether they are using a computer or mobile phone to view your site, whether they have the right plugins, or they could be blind. Designers need to learn to account for as much of their audiences as possible. Anticipating the user’s needs will give them the best experience possible and make your brand look good in the process.

There are many types of users. Some want the very basic and simple. Some don’t mind a flash element and few images. Then there are others that want every gadget available to make their experience more enjoyable.

We sometimes forget that websites, unlike traditional media, require and encourage human interactivity. The user wants to see pretty websites that lead to a good experience and warm fuzzies towards the brand in return. Designers also need to step into the shoes of their target audience and really understand their needs and design the website around those discoveries.

We need to design websites that bring out a response from the user and get them to interact with you  by telling a story. The storyline is different with websites though, instead of it starting with “in a land far, far, away” and “the end”, the user can start with “the end” go to the middle and then the beginning if they want.

By keeping the above tips in mind, perhaps the user will have a good online experience and good impression of your website and brand.

For further reading on this topic visit:
Ruining the User Experience by Aaron Gustafson

Human-to-Human Design by Sharon Lee

Widgets? Yes or No?

Posted in Uncategorized by pmaurer74 on December 10, 2008
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picture-7Widgets can be fun and cool. I must admit that when I bought my new Mac a few years ago and it came with a “dashboard” full of widgets I thought they were fun and I do believe they have their place for some companies. For example, EBAY has a widget that track auctions you are watching. I personally use the weather bug, a lava lamp, and a cheap gas locator. However, There are thousands and thousands of widgets online now and the odds of your company’s widget standing out among the crow is small. By using widgets, you have to give up knowing what the ROI on your investment is as you cannot track who has your widget and how many people it has been passed on to. You have no control over who gets your widget, it is left to other customers who send it on themselves to their friends. (Havenstein, 2008)

Widgets are commonly used on social networks like Facebook. Ben Kunz suggests in his article, “Why Widgets Don’t Work”, that people that use interactive communications have three modes: receiving, hunting, and doing. While people are on Facebook they are doing and are not hunting for new products so they will be difficult to reach. Kuntz suggests using widgets only if they reach hunters, hit the right target, is useful to your customer, and can be launched even if it doesn’t go viral. (Kunz, 2008) Widgets can be fun and useful but only as an extension of an overall interactive marketing plan.

Paul Sacco, senior manager for online development and strategy at Southwest said that they hit 2 million downloads within the first year of their fare alert widget “Ding”. In third quarter of 2008, they had 10 million. Bob Garfield writes that “Branded widges are the refridgerator magnet of the Brave New World”. I would have to agree. I had never really thought of them that way. I love the way Macs can hide there’s on the Dashboard so they don’t get in the way.

Garfield goes on to write that widgets are powerful because your consuemrs actually look for them, download them, use them, and pass them along to their friends. However, widgets are only as good as the novelty, once the fun and thrill is gone they are forgotten. Widgets are cost effective too since they cost very little to produce, however their reach can be small. A lot of bang for your buck though.

Some problems with widgets are right now they are not compatible on every platform, so you may need to make a few versions.. They are also hard to track who has them. Another problem is that people only have so much room for so many icons, applications, widgets, and everything on their computer. (Garfield, 2008)

Overall, I think the widget is cool and fun and underutilized. For some companies like Southwest, it’s a gold mind!

For further reading on this topic:

Widgets are Made for Marketing, So Why Aren’t More Advertisers Using Them?

Companies Struggling to Find Widget Advertising Strategy, ROI.

Why Widgets Don’t Work.

Advergaming and Brand Building with Children

When it comes to our children it is in our nature to try to protect our most vulnerable members of our society. It is difficult to measure the effects and influence of this type of advertising on children and translating it into dollars. As IMC practitioners it is our duty to be careful when targeting this market. What do we gain as a company if we persuade children to influence their parent’s to buy our products? Can we with integrity be proud of our sales figures while our children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren become overweight and lazy? Did we help to contribute to this

Currently over 85% of companies who sell food and beverage products have advergames online numbering over 500 free games. The spending by companies in the U.S. market on gaming was estimated to be over $760 million in 2007 with an estimated 256 million users. (Jussel, 2007) In 2005, the top rated food companies logged in over 12.2 million visits to their website by children. Advergaming can be more influential than other forms of media as well. With a television commercial there is little viewer interactivity. With an online game, the product message gets more deeply ingrained into the viewer since they are more involved with the media. (Lelchuk, 2006) Children spend on average over one hour a day online and about 49 minutes a day playing video games. Many children also have their own computer in their rooms (31%) at home.  (Rideout, 2005)

Since young children cannot read, they are left to images and logos to tell them about products. When the images are bright and fun and show a cartoon character on the front promoting the product, then it must be for kids and therefore fun right? If it has no character on it then it must be boring, healthy, and for adults. In order to obtain this brand recognition, then companies need to use visual appealing cartoon characters for brand recognition. (Neeley, 2004

Since it is difficult for children to distinguish between characters promoting products and TV characters, companies need to think twice about what images they want representing their products to a vulnerable audience. Professor Dale Kunkel of the University of Arizona sates, “In TV advertising, there is a clear boundary between what is the program and what is the advertising. But on the internet it is blurred.” (Lelchuk, 2006)

When I observed children and parents in the cereal aisles of two different grocery stores over the period of several hours I did observe some commonalities:
–    Children under the age of 3 didn’t really care about the cereal or images around them.
–    Children ages 4-8 immediately chose the cereal they wanted using past history to make their choices.
–    Teenage girls seemed more health conscious and were seen looking at labels and the back of the boxes and made healthier choices.
–    Parents were also seen asking their children what they wanted.
–    I also observed that most families with children ages 4-8 avoided the cereal aisle altogether or they sped down the aisle as fast as they could.
–    Another observation was that parents more often purchased fast cereals such as PopTarts or breakfast bars over cereal.

As an IMC practitioner, the above observations would lead me to conclude that we cannot lump all children into one category. Each child responds to and reacts to products and advertising differently. Children under the age of three seem either uninfluenced by the cartoon characters and promotions, or they do not have the brain development to associate with them yet. Children ages 4-8 seem to be the most influenced in the market and older children want something healthier and that is easy to take with them while on the go. Perhaps they are more health conscience, watching their weight, or are involved with sports type activities.

So, in conclusion, I would be hesitant to lump all children together and tell you what to do or not do to market to them as a group. Each group needs to be taken into consideration carefully. We do not want to alienate the trust of the parents or these children who will someday be buying these products for their own children. Kim Masters writes, “…children’s experiences beyond their own households – in the neighborhood, school, or in the larger community – can have a powerful impact on their growth and development”. (Masters, 2006) I believe we can extend this to the area of marketing and advertising as well.

For more reading on this topic, please see these articles:

Marketing to Children is Big Business.
‘Adverganes’ Hooks Kids on Products.
Advergaming Arcades Shift Toward Virtual Villages & Kid Vid
Masters, Kim (2006, October 3). For Toddlers, a World Laden with Advertising.
Neary, Lynn (2006, October 3). Tweens and the Media: What’s Too Adult?
Neeley, Sabrina M. and Schumann, David W. (2004, Fall) Using Animated Spokes-Characters in Advertising to Young Children. Journal of Advertising., vol. 33, no. 3. Pp. 7-23
Rideout et al (2005, March). Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8-18 Year Olds.