Identify ads and understand their messages
Young people learn the meaning behind ads.
Advertising is a way to send messages to an audience. The message could be to buy a product, support a cause, or think favorably about something. Being aware of the ad's message can help you be a more informed consumer. Visit Admongo.gov to find out more.
Welcome to Admongo.gov, the free site that uses advertising and a three-question approach to help students broaden and apply their critical thinking skills.
In this video, we’re going to discuss the second question kids should ask: What is this ad actually saying?
Your students will learn to consider things like an ad’s overt elements and messages, the subtle techniques many advertisers use to deliver messages, and the audience the ad is aimed at.
Certain elements in ads are obvious: the written or spoken text, the images and animation, the music and sound effects. Why they’re there, however, is often less clear to kids. You can help your students recognize that these elements work together to promote a certain feeling about a product: for example, that it’s fun, or healthy, or cool. You can also help students learn to identify and understand other elements in an ad that help tell you its meaning, like claims or targeting.
Claims are statements about what the product is made of, how it works, or what it does. For example, a box that says the cereal inside is 100% whole grain, a magazine ad that says a face wash will clear up acne, or a TV ad that says a snowboard is good for all terrains.
Targeting is the idea that ads are aimed at particular audiences and appear in specific places for a reason. Kids may not be aware that they’re specifically targeted by advertisers, but understanding that can be empowering. Ask kids what target audience they think each ad is for, and what makes them think that. This video ad targets boys, with its cool tricks, music, and the focus on the board’s performance. On the other hand, this print ad targets girls, emphasizing the social aspect of snowboarding with friends. Not that girls don’t care about performance, or boys about socializing. These ads just reflect what researchers say the group, in general, tends to care about. It’s useful to ask your students to look at the images in these ads and think about who they might appeal to. Why is an ad where it is? Who might see it here? These are clues to the target audience for the ad.
Level 2 of Admongo.gov and the lessons in your Resource Kit give kids opportunities to analyze many different kinds of ads, and help them learn to recognize claims and think critically about them. Admongo.gov has over twenty sample ads to download and use to help your students practice their skills. In addition, Admongo.gov and the Resource Kit feature activities that teach kids about targeting in specific and practical ways. To extend this learning, encourage questions like, Why am I seeing this ad? Are other people in my family seeing it too? Do I like it? Do I dislike it? And why? Would other kids like me like this ad?
Check out Admongo.gov, the other videos, and additional resources from the FTC to learn more about teaching ad literacy skills to your students.
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