Author: Barry AE, Johnson E, Rabre A, Darville G, Donovan KM, Efunbumi O.
Title: Underage access to online alcohol marketing content: a YouTube case study
Journal: Alcohol and Alcoholism. 2014;ePub(ePub):ePub-ePub.
Aims: With the proliferation of the Internet and online social media use, alcohol advertisers are now marketing their products through social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. As a result, new recommendations have been made by the Federal Trade Commission concerning the self-regulation of digital marketing strategies, including content management on social and digital media sites. The current study sought to determine whether alcohol companies were implementing the self-imposed mandates that they have developed for online marketing. Specifically, we examined whether alcohol companies were implementing effective strategies that would prevent persons under the minimum legal drinking age in the USA from accessing their content on YouTube.
Methods: We assessed 16 alcohol brands (beer and liquor) associated with the highest prevalence of past 30 day underage alcohol consumption in the USA. Fictitious YouTube user profiles were created and assigned the ages of 14, 17 and 19. These profiles then attempted to access and view the brewer-sponsored YouTube channels for each of the 16 selected brands.
Results: Every underage profile, regardless of age, was able to successfully subscribe to each of the 16 (100%) official YouTube channels. On average, two-thirds of the brands’ channels were successfully viewed (66.67%).
Conclusion: Alcohol industry provided online marketing content is predominantly accessible to underage adolescents. Thus, brewers are not following some of the self-developed and self-imposed mandates for online advertising by failing to implement effective age-restriction measures (i.e. age gates).