Is that game an ad?

“Is it an ad or is it a game?”

That has been a question since the first advergames (commercial messages embedded in a game format) appeared online.  It’s critical,  because children don’t distinguish between ads and game content.

Commercial breaks on TV are distinct;  ad content in online games can be so subtle, that the lines between a commercial and a game are blurred.

At the top the McDonald’s site,, a brief  line of type reads, “Hey kids, this is advertising!”  But even I looked away from that tiny typeface toward the  milk mustache maker.

The Federal Trade Commission still doesn’t regulate advertising to kids on new tech platforms, but isn’t it about time?


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