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Study: Kids Click Banner Ads Most, Teens Least

Children ages two to 11 click on Web ads more often than any other age group on the Internet, while teenagers are the age group least likely to click on ads, according to a Nielsen//NetRatings report released Tuesday.

The study is the first from Nielsen//NetRatings' Internet Advertising Strategies service. The service, which also launched today, offers global online ad click-through measurement, allowing marketers to gauge advertising trends and usage activity. Nielsen//NetRatings is a joint Internet audience measurement service from Nielsen Media Research, ACNielsen, eRatings.com and NetRatings Inc.

The report, based on data from June 2000, indicates that children click on banner ads at a rate of 0.87 percent, as compared to an overall Internet audience click-through rate of 0.45 percent for the month.

According to the study, teenagers' click rates are well below June's overall average, with the 12-17 year old demographic clicking through at 0.19 percent. The 18-20 year old group clicked even less often, 0.11 percent.

Researchers said they believe advertisers' strong brand identities, combined with banner ads' interactivity, contributed to the high clickthrough rates for children, while teenagers' disaffection with advertising in general explains their lower rates.

"The strategy of leveraging strong offline brand loyalty with interactive elements online, such as game playing or contests, is working to reach kids," said Kate Maddox, Nielsen//NetRatings Internet advertising strategies director.

"It's no secret disaffected teens are a tough audience for marketers to crack. Jaded by advertising, they've historically clicked at a lower rate than the average Internet audience."

The study's results show that children clicked most often on Trident Gum's "Adventures of Supertooth" creative, with a 9.76 percent clickthrough rate. Nestle Ice Cream's "Stamps and Stomps" banner ad also appeared in the demographic's top 10 most-clicked creatives, with 5.80 percent. Both creatives feature interactive games in the ads.

Three ads featuring games from Cartoon Network, another brand with strong offline identity among children, also appeared in the top 10 -- "Powerpuff Girls," "Scooby Doo" and "Sailor Moon."

Despite their low average click rate, teens clicked most often on ads offering free goods, sweepstakes, or useful information. The study's findings indicated that Eastpak's banner ad, featuring a contest for a free backpack and prizes, as the most popular for the teen demographic, with a 20.35 percent click rate.

Other ads by Cartoon Network, Alloy.com and Prize Central also featuring prizes or games and appeared in the demographic's top 10 most-clicked. Teenagers also clicked on ads offering useful information, such as "Potfacts," a campaign produced by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and Apartments.com, which offers apartment-searching capabilities.

"The message to marketers is: you can still reach teens, even if they're harder to attract, by creating campaigns that meet their specialized needs," said Maddox. "The more interactive, and the more highly targeted to their interests, the better."

Nielsen//NetRatings' sample consists of 165,000 Internet users worldwide, and purports to be the largest representative media research sample of Internet users.