Internet Advertising for Kindergarteners

My five year-old’s kindergarten class is studying jobs and they asked parents to come in and explain what they do for a living. I jumped at the chance, but then reality sunk in. The little tykes wouldn’t really get the “Luma Slide” and an explanation like “I build high frequency trading platforms for real time advertising” probably wouldn’t work too well either. So I built a little exercise for the classroom that I thought I would share for everybody in case it comes in handy.

Let’s start by explaining the Internet. Kids all claim to know about the Internet, but I wanted to get across the concept that the web was about computers making requests and responses to one another, as opposed to TV where you just turn on a channel. To do this in a classroom setting I figured the best approach was to get the kids moving around and interacting.

Like most internet business models, my first problem was finding decent content. I went to a party planning store and looked for posters or other images of superheros that could serve as desirable content. The best option was rectangular paper party plates ($3 for 8). I bought a set of Captain America and a set of Happy Feet then took a scissors and removed the raised brim of the plate to make a simple square mini-poster. See photo below:

Content secured, I needed hosting. Two helpful little girls volunteered to be the “Servers” and were given stacks of “Websites”:

Next, I needed to worry about connectivity. My original plan was to have the kids enact every layer of the network (“Daddy, I was DNS today!”). This was too ambitious. I settled for a one-hop solution and explained to the kids that web sites are known by their numbers rather than names. One kid volunteered to be “The Router”. His job was to stand next to the address poster (photo below) and direct kids who wanted Captain America to server #1 and kids who wanted Happy Feet to server #2.

Finally, we needed to pay for our content. I made some banner ads and asked for a volunteer to be the “ad server”. I told him to give each kid the ad he thought they would want the most (behavioral targeting!). The banner ads:

Putting it all together, the diagram below shows how the kids flowed through the exercise:

So how did they like it? Overall, I think it went well. The router thing was fun (for me) but the kids basically overwhelmed the throughput of the volunteer giving out the addresses. We ran out of Captain Americas (apparently girls like him as well), which caused some frowns. But in the end the kids got their content and their banner ads and had a fun time.

The next step was explaining ad effectiveness measurement. I’ll leave that for another post later this week.   UPDATE: Read Part 2!