Educating online safety by fear?

Fear of the WebOr getting the message across innovatively?

Re-targeting is a common marketing/advertising tactic on the internet; when a user visits a product website, re-targeting shows an ad for that same product on other websites.  For example if you’ve been looking for something on Amazon, you’ll see those same or similar products on other sites, including social networks that you visit.

There are 2 chains of thought on re-targeting.  Firstly that advertising has become so pervasive that it simply spoils the browsing experience (always a top one with children, particularly their gaming experience); the other is that you would rather see advertising that interests you based on your browsing history.

But re-targeting for education?  That’s a new one on me.  And re-targeting to ‘teach’ online safety to teens is interesting to say the least.

This innovative way is something that was trialled by a French child safety group called ‘Innocence en Danger‘.  Essentially this was a trial targeted at 200,000 French teenagers by placing ads on the most popular websites for their age bracket including Facebook, MTV and others.  The young people would see the ad across about 10 sites they visited before a message was finally revealed, “It’s not always easy to see who follows you on the Internet.”

The video they saw was pretty creepy, you can see the YouTube version below.  To be honest I’m not sure how I feel about this, I’m not in favour at all of teaching by fear, but to be fair it does get across a very strong and clear message.  However using re-targeting for educating specific messages to specific age groups is something which could be very interesting in the future, and I’m definitely in favour of that.

Here’s a thought: perhaps some of the larger social media companies could use some of their huge profits to target age-groups by geographic location with relevant, up-to-date and good advice sites?

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