YouTube Kids made its debut on February 23, with the goal of offering kids a “safe space” on the video platform otherwise rife with content meant for people over the age of five. Complete with a toolset of parental controls and content from DreamWorks TV, Jim Henson, and National Geographic Kids, YouTube Kids also presents a “safe space” for advertisers, in that they can be confident their ads will reach the target demographic.
To explore what YouTube Kids really means for advertisers and publishers, we caught up with Dave Rosner, the head of marketing at Zefr, so he could share his predictions on the child-friendly video app.
How will the new YouTube app for kids affect the standard, “all ages” YouTube (if you think it will at all)?
I think this is great move for the entire YouTube platform. At Zefr, we love to see YouTube grow, and this step makes perfect sense. I don’t think it will affect the YouTube we know and love in a negative way — it just provides a safer place for kids to participate in the platform. This new app specifically for kids widens YouTube’s reach to families that might have been nervous about letting their kids use the standard YouTube platform.
How do you think YouTube Kids will handle the interest from advertisers — do you think the app will quickly get very ad-heavy, or will it manage to stay light on ads?
For advertisers looking to target kids, this is definitely a step in the right direction. You can promise all day that the ad is going to get to the right type of user, but on the standard YouTube platform, you don’t necessarily know if a kid is logging into his dad’s or another user’s account. Now that you have it all in one environment for kids, I think it’s going to make advertisers feel more sure about who their ads are being shown to. We expect YouTube Kids ads will be very targeted, specific, and valuable to the viewer.
What kind of ad balance do you think will be most beneficial to the platform?
As it stands, the kids app is running house ads, but the company plans to slowly incorporate pre-roll ads from top advertisers focused on kids and parents. Regardless of how much advertising we can expect, a good advertiser will know how to cater their content to kids, taking into consideration their attention spans, other videos they are watching, and more.
What are some of the biggest kid-focused digital production studios already on YouTube?
One of the biggest kid-focused production studios is Hasbro Studios, and we’ve been working with them for the past few years to help manage and build their YouTube channel. Hasbro Studios has seen huge growth — especially for the top properties “My Little Pony,” “Transformers,” and “Littlest Pet Shop” — since launching its YouTube channel last year.
But something that many do not know is that the biggest kid-focused YouTube channels are not run by massive studios. According to Zefr data, the top five kid-focused YouTube channels are BluCollection, AllToyCollector, LittleBabyBum, KidsTV123, DisneyCarToys, and Disney Cars Toy Club (DCTC).
Based on its work so far, what kind of predictions would you make about YouTube Kids?
I think this is a natural progression for YouTube and the new media industry as a whole. We are already seeing that kids are making the switch from TV to online video. According to eMarketer, 17.5 million kids, or about 71% of kids under 12, watch web video. However, it’s taken more time for advertisers to make the leap from traditional to digital when it comes to marketing to kids versus adults. What I think YouTube has done will spur that trend and transition, and we can expect to see more kid-focused ad dollars flowing into digital platforms.