Advertisers know that if they want to sell a product or service, they need to get teens interested. Teenagers are the top consumer demographic in America, according to PBS’s Frontline. The teen market segment is worth somewhere between $44 billion and $150 billion a year.

Social Media

Teens use social media, and advertisers have taken note. As teens scroll though Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, they will see ads. Teens ignore most of those ads, but not all. They pay attention to sponsored videos from influencers, even though they know the influencers are being paid. Teens, maybe from lack of experience, believe their influencers wouldn’t hawk products “they didn’t believe in.” Hearing a branded message from someone in or close to their peer group also persuades teens to get on board with whatever the advertiser is trying to sell.

Teens Are Insecure

Advertisers often influence teens by playing to their insecurities and making them feel not good enough: too fat, too thin or unattractive. If only they would buy the right products or stick with certain brands, they could fit in. Ads like these are trying to guide teens into being included in social circles by letting them know what’s likely to be accepted from others and what isn’t.

Data Collection

The prevalence of data collection opens a whole new world to advertisers trying to capture the teen market. They can influence teens based on what they learn about them from the information they collect and store. Once enough data is gathered, marketers who buy the data know which products or services will likely capture the attention of their teen markets.

Bad Influences

An abstract published by the “Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics” in 2006 reports that advertising influences teens to eat poorly, smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. Some advertisers study which techniques influence teens the most. They found success with product placements in movies and TV shows, along with celebrity endorsements. The abstract also reports that one-third of teens who smoke started because of tobacco advertising. The same goes for alcohol: Teen drinkers have likely been exposed to alcohol advertising

Teens Need to Be Critical Thinkers

With advertisers armed with influencers, teenage insecurity and tons of data, teenagers can be sitting ducks. It's important to educate teenagers, and younger kids, about advertising, to make sure they know how to think for themselves and not let advertisers define them.

Teens as Influencers

Although teens are influenced by ads, they also influence purchases, particularly in tech. They tell their parents what sort of technology to buy: iPhones or tablets, for example. And because technology changes so quickly, teens tend not to be brand loyal to a particular tech brand but to buy (or recommend that their parents buy) the best – no matter the brand.