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Changes to Targeting Kids on YouTube- What Does it Actually Mean?

By now we have all heard or read about the changes coming from YouTube pertaining to content creators being required to label “kids” content at the video or channel level moving forward (more info can be found here).  This change will limit the data that is collected on “kid” marked content (to further comply with COPPA), and in turn will eliminate personalized ads that would have appeared across the content kids were consuming.

But what does that mean?

This will mean different things to different people within the YouTube Environment.

From an Advertising standpoint:

It means that kids won’t be targeted with (personalized) ads based on their past viewing habits or search history, but rather only by the type, or specific location of content they are viewing at any given time.

The ads will now only be contextually targeted, as oppose to audience targeted because audience targeting requires personal data to be used and this goes against COPPA guidelines.

When it comes to purchasing ads on YouTube, advertisers have several options of how they can target specific audiences. The main targeting categories that an advertiser can select from are as follows:

  • Keywords (Toy, Doll, Cute, Collectible, …)
  • Audience (Pet Lovers, Family Television Fans, Fashionistas, …)
  • Demographics (Women 18-24, Males 25-34, …)
  • Topics (Cartoons, Dolls + Accessories, Action Figures, …)
  • Placements (Specific YT videos, or Channels)

Demographics have never been used to target kids on YouTube as their Terms of Service state that it is a service for those 13+ in age (even though we know they are power users), and the age range that includes those under the age of 13 has never been an option to select when it comes to targeting.

Keywords, Topics, and Placements are still ok use to target, as they are based on the type and specific location of the content (Contextual).

Audience (or Custom Affinity groups) is the main targeting category that will no longer be able to be used (nor should it have ever been) to target kids as it uses data based on past viewing and search habits to do so.

So, what does this change?

For us, nothing. We have always used only contextual targeting to reach kids online, but these changes will make it harder for marketers that did use audience targeting in the past to reach kids on YouTube.  For them to be effective in reaching kids on YouTube moving forward they will have to know and understand what types of content are relevant and safe to reach kids, without depending on their past viewing and search habits to do so.

We have worked in the space for many years to develop our understanding of contextual targeting when It comes to reaching kids on YouTube. We have also worked with multiple partners that either own the (best in class) content we are targeting via reserved guaranteed and auction based buys, or have proprietary technology that their team of internal experts proactively developed for years to make sure we are targeting only relevant kids safe content via auction.

Because of the above, it’s now more important than ever to have partners that are experts in the space to make sure your YouTube campaigns continue to be effective in reaching kids in a safe way via contextual targeting.

From a Content Creator standpoint:

Those that create, but don’t monetize their kid directed content will see changes in the form of likes, dis-likes, and comments going away.  For those that do monetize their kids directed content, it likely means that they will also see a decrease in ad revenue in addition to the above engagement metrics being removed. Some reports have estimated that creators will see a decrease in revenue (from Kid targeted content) upwards of 85%. This is because they will no longer be able to benefit from ads that ran across their content via audience targeting as they did in the past. With time this may cause viewing patterns to change based on creators altering where and how they post their videos to maximize their earning potential, but only time will tell.

We will continue to keep an eye on the space to make sure we are one step ahead, to keep you one step ahead.