Interactive Web Marketing grows as Children’s toys extend experience online


Online experiences for Toys not new

Lego (one of my preferred toy) has an online Club, where those who sign up receive additional information. GIJoe has online games, and has cleverly disguised it’s advertisements as online experiences.


Children’s Physical toys to have cross online experience

A while ago I covered how Fisher Price is starting kids listening to Podcasts and taking digital pictures at an early age. Now, toy companies are seeing the benefit of having a dual experience with their toys as the Internet continues to mainstream at home, and especially with the younger generation.

According to the Associated Press this cross medium experience will continue to heat up:

“…’Toy companies are looking at where kids are playing and targeting product against it. Younger and younger kids are becoming more comfortable with the Internet,’ said New York-based toy consultant Chris Byrne…”

The article links to Bandai, which has an interesting interactive experience where kids can enter in secret codes for additional experience.

Could tie to Social Networking for Kids
A while back I covered Club Penguin, (before it got big) and it’s continuing to take off and be the MySpace of children. Club Penguin is in a real position of power, I know several parents who tell me their kids do chores to earn money so they can spend it in Club Penguin to ‘improve their igloo’ and do other events. There’s tremendous cross-marketing opportunities for Club Penguin and other toy manufactures.

The Future: Toys will be connected to the Internet, Children to continue to network amongst themselves
I would expect future toys to have a USB connector, and then WiFi, so a website can make the experience interactive. Imagine, those kids toys will come to life and start teaching children their ABCs or other dynamic content that a website and parents can control. There’s already some very basic toys with USB connections such as this Hello Kitty toy. Why not extend the mimicking of this laptop with supplemental information that can get your kid ahead in school?

Concerns
Of course, protective parents (that’s repetitive isn’t it?) will raise concerns with privacy, and demand that websites don’t harvest information or expose children to dangers, and of course, I agree. OnGuard provides these ethical guidelines and watchgroups that review online spaces for parents. Microsoft created this guideline as a resource for parents.

Generation Next: Digital Native
For many companies this all makes sense, why should a company limit the experience of their toys to only the physical world, with the internet, and maybe (and carefully) connect with other kids. They’re going to be online from an early age, and will be very comfortable interacting with each other online.

  • I’ve done a lot of research in this area for clients and its always complex because of privacy/ protection issues – but also because with kids – age level and gender dictate some very specific things. Some of the things I am watching: Habbo Hotel (Social network for teens with 60 million members – yeah!), Neopets – always popular with kids, Webkinz (stuffed toy co – allows you to register your pet, care for them in a virtual world, play games), Famster (social network for parents), Family.com. There are so many great sites being established for kids and family these days.

  • Interesting Karen, it would be cool if you had some other type of list or index that could show all these types of toy/web experiences.

  • Craig Denton

    Our company manufactures and licenses an expanding line of pet products — primarily for cats and dogs. These products are distributed and sold through major pet retail chains as well as smaller pet shops.
    We currently have a fairly robust Web site, but we plan to deploy an interactive Web program that is tied to the purchase of the product at retail. As far as we know, no other pet products marketer is doing this.
    We’re in the process of designing the interactive Web experience.
    Like Jeremiah, I would be very interested in a list or index of not only children’s toy/Web experiences, but also adult Web experiences (think “Coke Rewards”). After all, adults purchase most of the pet products.
    We don’t have the privacy/protection issues to deal with — but we do need to make the Web experience as relevant, interesting, fun and rewarding (so they keep come back) as possible.
    (Karen) do you have any ideas as to where we can obtain further information about this growing industry? You indicated that you’ve been doing research in this area.

  • Craig Denton

    Our company manufactures and licenses an expanding line of pet products — primarily for cats and dogs. These products are distributed and sold through major pet retail chains as well as smaller pet shops.
    We currently have a fairly robust Web site, but we plan to deploy an interactive Web program that is tied to the purchase of the product at retail. As far as we know, no other pet products marketer is doing this.
    We're in the process of designing the interactive Web experience.
    Like Jeremiah, I would be very interested in a list or index of not only children's toy/Web experiences, but also adult Web experiences (think “Coke Rewards”). After all, adults purchase most of the pet products.
    We don't have the privacy/protection issues to deal with — but we do need to make the Web experience as relevant, interesting, fun and rewarding (so they keep come back) as possible.
    (Karen) do you have any ideas as to where we can obtain further information about this growing industry? You indicated that you've been doing research in this area.

  • Zhu Zhu Pets Hamsters are interactive toy pets. Kiddlywinks has a large selection of children's learning toys

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  • IreneColdman

    Every kid nowadays knows how to use the computer since he/she is 3-4 years old. So yes, toys will have to extend to an online experience if the company wants to have success. I don't see this as a good thing(kids staying so much in front of the computer), but I guess, that this problems is an effect of technology fast paced development.

  • now a days many students like to web browsing. I see, the Club Penguin is in a real position of power, I know several parents who tell me their kids do chores to earn money so they can spend it in Club Penguin. ..