The pilot study by Jernigan and others (2017), focused on digital and social media and compared young people with adults on the amount of alcohol marketing they recalled seeing. Youth reported greater exposure to alcohol marketing  and promotional content than adults in most media, including on the Internet. Furthermore, youth reported greater engagement with alcohol marketing online. This stresses the need to assure compliance with voluntary industry standards and to improve monitoring of alcohol marketing, especially regarding youth and the new media online.

A sample of 1,192 underaged youths and 1,124 adults completed an online survey, with questions about alcohol marketing in online as well as traditional media. A distinction in the questions was made between exposure (how often) and content (type) of alcohol marketing, and engagement with alcohol marketing.

Youth reported exposure to alcohol marketing in the last month was almost twice as much as exposure of adults on the Internet (29.7% versus 16.8%, p < 0.001). Youth interacted with alcohol-related online content in greater proportions than adults, such as celebrities using alcohol, celebrities wearing alcohol-branded items, pictures of celebrities showing the negative effect(s) of using alcohol, pictures of friends/peer using alcohol and pictures of friends/peers showing the negative effect(s) of using alcohol. Regarding the content of alcohol marketing, the difference between youth and adults was the most significant with content related to celebrities and alcohol.

The results show that youth were significantly, and twice as likely than adults to see or hear alcohol marketing on the TV, radio, billboards and especially the Internet. They also show that youth were more likely than adults to interact with online content of alcohol marketing.

These results are concerning, since youth in particular are vulnerable and susceptible to alcohol marketing, and age-gating on digital media are not that effective.

The article can be downloaded via the Online Wiley Library or have a look at our database of scientific publications.

Authors: Tim Lobstein, Jane Landon, Nicole Thornton & David Jernigan Title: The commercial use of digital media to market alcohol products: a narrative review Journal: Addiction, 2016, 10.1111/add.13493OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Abstract: Background and aims: The rising use of digital media in the last decade, including social networking media and downloadable applications, has created new opportunities for marketing a wide range of goods and services, including alcohol products. This paper aims to review the evidence in order to answer a series of policy-relevant questions: does alcohol marketing through digital media influence drinking behaviour or increases consumption; what methods of promotional marketing are used, and to what extent; and what is the evidence of marketing code violations and especially of marketing to children? Methods and findings: A search of scientific, medical and social journals and authoritative grey literature identified 47 relevant papers (including 14 grey literature documents). The evidence indicated (i) that exposure to marketing through digital media was associated with higher levels of drinking behaviour; (ii) that the marketing activities make use of materials and approaches that are attractive to young people and encourage interactive engagement with branded messaging; and (iii) there is evidence that current alcohol marketing codes are being undermined by alcohol producers using digital media. Conclusions: There is evidence to support public health interventions to restrict the commercial promotion of alcohol in digital media, especially measures to protect children and youth. The article can be downloaded via this link in the Wiley Online Library.