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YouTube for kids: a potentially costly advertising lesson

Kids’ content producers on YouTube are prolific and popular, a rising segment that is starting to get a lot of traction. The type of content ranges from well-known icons like Peppa Pig (7m subscribers on the English channel) to independent creators such as Blippi (3.2m subscribers), pushing out nursery rhymes and animations. Within the realm of independent content producers, there are also many child stars or – depending on how cynical you are feeling – parents monetising their children through ad revenue and sponsorship deals. Examples include children reviewing toys or performing rhymes and dances, with the most popular channel seeing over 17m subscribers.

So, what does this mean for advertisers? As kids are not able to have YouTube accounts of their own, they will instead be watching content on their parents’ devices and those parents may fit your ideal target audience. Toddlers and kids are less likely to be familiar with the platform and may not skip videos, and as far as YouTube’s systems are concerned, your target audience is watching 100% of the ad. This means YouTube’s algorithms will actively start to optimise campaigns towards this category of content as it views the audience, which it assumes to be a parent, as ideal. This can start to skew campaign results as your front-end YouTube metrics will look excellent with high completion rates, but if you dig a little deeper you may find that this does not translate to on-site engagement.

All Response Media viewpoint
YouTube have exclusions in place to let brands select if they want to appear for this type of children’s content or not. However, the children’s content category is expanding rapidly, and YouTube’s filters don’t always work as quickly as advertisers would like. This can lead to ads being watched by your target audience’s offspring instead of the targeted parents, causing advertising budget wastage.

To combat this, we have come up with a few additional steps advertisers can take to ensure they are still able to reach their target audience while minimising the risk of serving ads to children. We recommend that daily placement level reports (at a minimum) are reviewed to ensure that channels intended for children have not slipped through the net and the campaign is not showing ads against them. We have also created a growing list of channels that are automatically excluded from each campaign to reduce this type of wastage. Another method is to build a library of negative keywords that are associated with children’s content: for example, “Peppa Pig”.

Finally, it is also important to always look at metrics beyond YouTube such as on-site engagement following a YouTube ad. Focusing purely on front-end metrics can be costly as you may see strong video completion rates but if some of those views are coming from children, this can skew campaign results in relation to the business metrics that matter the most

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