Ofcom's verdict is in. And the race is now on for food and drink companies to find alternative ways to market their products to kids.

The internet; non broadcast media such as direct mail, print and on-pack promotions; in-store marketing such as loyalty schemes, bogofs and free samples; and other activities such as the use of sponsorship and vending are just some of the channels being investigated.

But it is only a matter of time before these media face similar restrictions. The Food and Drink Advertising and Promotion Forum is already looking at strengthening self-regulatory codes for these alternative media now that Ofcom has delivered its ruling. So what sort of impact is the ban likely to have?

Ofcom estimates the ban will reduce TV advertising revenue by £39m and that children will be exposed to 41% fewer HFSS food and drink advertisements.

It argues that the ban will encourage manufacturers to reformulate their products so they can still advertise. There is a short period of grace for existing or commissioned adverts, until June 2007. Others, however, are not convinced.

"Ofcom has missed a big opportunity," says Owen Warnock, food law specialist at Eversheds law firm.

"They want to encourage manufacturers to reformulate their products, but the short implementation period will mean that rather than reformulating products to make them healthier, manufacturers will find different means of marketing."

Mark Joy, managing director at promotional marketing agency Gasoline ,agrees. "The reality is that these advertisers will not say 'fine, let's write off however much turnover and stop marketing to children', they will look at other ways of marketing."

The first response will be to go on the offensive. "The Ofcom decision will have a big effect in terms of how the manufacturers evaluate how they spend their money," he says.

"They will look at more effective use of retail space. Some will seek to put more money into promotions and some will go down the direct mailing route and promote their products via parents."

The internet is where people hope or fear - depending on which side of the debate they are on - the long-term activity could focus on because of the difficulty in policing its content. It is also, of course, a medium that arguably already has greater influence on children than TV.

The appeal to advertisers and manufacturers is obvious, says Joy. "You can add a lot of value on the web by creating websites that will attract children," he argues.

"You can imagine Burger King creating a website called Burger Games with free access to the 20 best online games around. Brands want to create a bond between themselves and consumers and give consumers a reason to use them."

Advertisers will also create exciting and imaginative 'viral emails' that kids will want to send on to their friends, he predicts. The texting route is likely to be a no-go, however. "It would be very, very dangerous to send texts as it is very invasive - sending texts to a 14-year-old to advertise junk food would be pretty heinous," he says.

There is also a potential loophole in Ofcom's decision to place no controls on advertising of brands. McDonald's could conceivably get away with sponsoring the likes of SpongeBob SquarePants, says Joy.

"I think someone will definitely have a go and it will come down to who is willing to push the boundaries. And the likelihood that we will see more Burger King bouncy castles at next year's county fairs has gone up dramatically."

Richards concedes that there are loopholes, but says: "We will look to the food and drink industry now to work within the framework we have set.

"Clearly brands can be used to advertise, but we would expect and need to see a responsible response from the advertisers and broadcasters to stick to the spirit and framework of what's proposed."

Even if they do comply, there is still a question mark over whether Ofcom's ban will have the intended impact on childhood obesity. Ironically, it admits itself that while children will be exposed to fewer HFSS ads, this will not be enough to shrink child waistlines.

"TV advertising is only a small part of the picture - there is no silver bullet to the obesity problem," says Ofcom chief executive Ed Richards. "If we had a total ban [on HFSS food advertising] tomorrow, we would still not have the silver bullet. This has to be part of a wider approach."

So if Ofcom itself is admitting that the new regime is going to have a negligible impact, why on earth has it introduced it?

There's definitely a feeling it has been caught between the aggressive campaigning of the pro-ban lobby and the heartfelt remonstrating of the food and drink industry, resulting in a compromise solution that has pleased no-one.

Campaign groups, such as the National Consumer Council, Which?, The British Medical Association and British Heart Foundation, have also been highly critical of the ruling. "A 9pm watershed is the only answer. One million children are predicted to be obese in England alone by 2010," says Which? director of communications and campaigns Nick Stace. "We cannot afford another public health fudge."

But Ofcom has gone completely over the top, according to Food and Drink Federation director general Melanie Leech. "The debate around this important issue has been based on high emotions and subjective opinions rather than a sensible dialogue about how we can tackle childhood obesity," she says. "Advertising is only a very small part of this debate. While important, any new restrictions won't provide a quick fix solution to the problem."

Criticism of the arbitrary nature of the ban's impact on the TV programmes has come from both sides.

Friends, Hollyoaks and The Simpsons will all be hit, while Coronation Street, Emmerdale and I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here have enough adults watching to keep the percentage below the all-important 20%.

"These proposals don't get to the heart of the problem," adds Philip Cullum, deputy chief executive of the National Consumer Council (NCC). "Seventy per cent of children's viewing time is outside children's airtime. Coronation Street is watched by four times as many children as watch Saturday morning children's TV."

Consultation on the controversial new proposal to extend the ban from under nines to under 16s, ends on 15 December. The industry will have to wait a little longer for the verdict on how non-broadcast media will be regulated.The impact of the ban

The industry was prepared for a ban in advertising of high fat, sugar and salt products to children under nine. But last week, Ofcom proposed the extension of the ban to under 16s. Marketing spend is now expected to migrate from TV to other media including the internet and in-store marketing. But there is only a narrow window of opportunity. Now that Ofcom's verdict is in, the Food and Drink Advertising and Promotion Forum has begun work on codes of practice for many of these alternative channels. Only the internet, which is seen as virtually impossible to police, is likely to remain untouched.