Monday, March 12, 2012

Can the FCC help us gain less weight?

By: Alon Cohen

According to a survey done during 2007, children ages 2-17 are exposed between 12 and 21 times per day or  about 4400 times to 7600 times per year to food advertising. On the other side, they are exposed to only 47 to 164 times per year to fitness or nutrition service ads.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of obesity has more than doubled among children ages 2 to 5 (5.0% to 12.4%) and ages 6 to 11 (6.5% to 17.0%). In teens ages 12 to 19, prevalence rates have tripled (5.0% to 17.6%). Obesity in childhood places children and youth at risk.

Today’s children, ages 8 to 18, consume multiple types of media (often simultaneously) and spend more time (44.5 hours per week) in front of computer, television, and game screens than any other activity in their lives except sleeping. Research has found strong associations between increases in advertising for non-nutritious foods and rates of childhood obesity.

So what do I propose…

The FCC mandated a rule that say that all television sets with screens 33 inch and up must be equipped with a feature to block the display of television programming based on its rating.
This technology is called the V-chip. and it enables you to block certain programming types.

A simple solution might be to mandate the rating of ads as well, and use the V-CHIP technology already in TV sets to enable parents to block certain types of ads for the sake of the kids, and judging from myself for my own sake as well.

And here the kicker, fast thinking cable companies (or Google) can take advantage of that newly created dead ad time and use that as inventory to sell other types of ads stored on the cable box, targeting them based on specific consumer preferences. Presumably, this targeting process can be used as a completely new method of targeting consumers for all TV ads, by enabling people to opt out from ads they do not like or need.

A win, win, win, win. Kids, parents and the whole nation win by eating less and promoting health. Consumers win by getting to choose ads (or opt them out), advertisers win by showing correct ads to those who are interested hence increasing conversion rates. Cable companies win by creating a new, better-targeted advertising model. Who losses? You tell me.