There's an interesting article at C-Net about marketing to youth in virtual online worlds. As you may know, virtual worlds such as Habbo Hotel, Webkinz and the like are hugely popular with kids and tweens. Many of them also offer opportunities to market to kids. Sometimes, joining the virtual world requires buying a real-world toy, sometimes these sites include ads, and sometimes, as the article reports "preteens are driving virtual Toyota Scions on sites such as Whyville.net and Gaia Online, and they're wearing the latest digital fashions from DKNY at Stardoll.com."
Of course, there's always been a fair bit of marketing to kids, such as when a movie effectively promotes an 'action figure', or a cartoon has 'spin-off' toys, lunchboxes, and the like. How much marketing to kids is appropriate at online worlds? Is it ok as long as it's up front and honest? Let us know!