Advertising and child safety on YouTube

There have been stricter rules on advertising aimed at children since July. Not only on TV, but also on YouTube. It pays as a brand to handle such advertising carefully and ‘brand-safe’. Not only because of your own moral responsibility, but also because otherwise you risk offending your audience.

From 1 July 2022, new and stricter rules will come into force to protect children in particular from harmful video content. The rules are primarily intended for young people. They watch less television, but are increasingly active on social media and primarily watch videos via Connected TV.

Moral responsibility

Due to the stricter regulations, the need is also increasing brand-appropriatee advertise. There is a growing recognition that as a brand you have a moral responsibility to ensure that the content that children see matches the brand values ​​you want to convey as a brand, and that the content is also inclusive of, for example, black, Asian or LGBTQ+ people community. I’m glad that awareness of the environment in which brands advertise online – and how they themselves can influence this – is growing. Only now do they also have to discover how to approach it as smartly as possible.

The fact is that YouTube is one of the safest environments for advertisers to get their message across. Thanks to technological innovation and initiatives like the YouTube Measurement Partner (YTMP) program, YouTube is committed to ensuring that the platform is a safe environment for brands to advertise within, while being contextually relevant to each target audience. And especially for (small) children. But to realize that, brands also need to take responsibility and understand the process behind it.

Not an easy process

Brand suitable Advertising while protecting children’s safety on YouTube is just not a process that everyone understands. It’s not so strange now. After all, a huge amount of video content is posted on YouTube every day: around 500 hours per minute. How do you ensure you know the right context for the huge amount of content and use it in the right way to get the most out of the YouTube platform? Now advertisers often buy primarily on Youtube Made for Kids, which can limit the scope. With this purchase option, the manufacturer has indicated that it is about content for children.

Large-scale contextual classification

Fortunately, there are several companies and ways advertisers can help with this. YouTube has given seven companies worldwide a YTMP badge. This badge gives them access to YouTube’s Application Programming Interface (API) as well as permission to access it 24/7, giving these companies the exact content and context of the millions of videos uploaded to YouTube every minute. And because they are an independent third party themselves, this is the best way to contextually classify at scale. You can read exactly how it works here.

Context, content and meaning are essential

In this article, I therefore prefer to discuss the importance of the context and content of the videos, so that we as a market can also ensure that the content is safe and relevant for all viewers. Clearly, videos and advertisements for cars or alcohol in YouTube videos aimed at children are inappropriate. According to the new rules, YouTubers may no longer advertise chocolate, sweets and alcohol. Strict regulations are on the way and are already active in the UK. Furthermore, no unboxingvideos are made with children’s toys if these products are sponsored.

This UNICEF research report (pdf) makes painfully clear the impact of advertising on the beliefs, mindsets and behaviors of young people and communities. According to the report, stereotypes in advertising – regarding gender, race, ethnicity, culture, disability, family structure and many other facets of identity – can be harmful and affect children’s self-esteem and even mental health.

However, it must be said that the harmful effect varies according to age. The generations who are no longer children themselves – Generation X (born between 1965-1976) and Millennials (born between 1980-2000) – found mismatched ads and video content and stereotypes more harmful than younger Generation Z (born between 1995-2010). Nevertheless, the numbers from this study show that brands and marketers must now take steps to create a safe, appropriate, relevant and positive video environment together.

KidSAFE certificate

As a brand, do you want to contribute to ensuring that children only come into contact with your brand in a safe and reliable environment? Then it is important that you align and adjust your marketing strategy and budget. And it is not something that should only be on the schedule for 2023, but must be addressed already now. There’s a good chance that as the holidays approach, the number of ads and videos targeting children’s gifts will increase.

Take Spin Master, for example, who as a leader in children’s entertainment made the protection of its audience a top priority and chose to work only with partners and technologies that can guarantee children’s safety and privacy. Among other things, the partners have been awarded the KidSAFE certificate. The KidSAFE certificate is an international, independent safety seal awarded exclusively to child-friendly websites and technologies. This allows consumers to see at a glance whether companies are using personal data carefully and securely for advertising purposes on websites and in advertisements.

The result: happy parents, children’s confidence remains intact and not indifferent: i no time brand preference and purchase intention will increase.

About the author: Nick Beentjes is the CEO of Channel Factory.

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