Aishwarya Ramesh

The effects of YouTube's new content policy for kids

YouTube's new content policy is geared towards protecting the data of minor children.

YouTube's new content policy for children relating to videos on the platform is set to take effect from January 13, 2020. Under the new policy, all creators will be required to designate their content as 'made for kids' or 'not made for kids' in the YouTube Studio (where videos are uploaded from). Data from anyone watching a video designated as 'made for kids' will be treated as coming from a child, regardless of the age of the user.

As a response to allegations that the platform was collecting minors' data, YouTube announced that it would be disabling some product features for children's content. For example, the platform will no longer serve personalised ads on kids' content or support features such as comments, live chats, notification bells, stories, 'save to playlist', etc. To understand how this change in the policy impacts consumers, advertisers and creators of children's content, we reached out to industry experts across different fields.

Kushal Sanghvi - India lead, Integral Ad Sciences

Content for children has been a very large draw for its users on YouTube. With the changes that Google recently announced coming into play, it definitely bodes well from a user's perspective. There will not be much traffic of children who visit YouTube.

Kushal Sanghvi
Kushal Sanghvi

That said, it will definitely have a couple of implications for the advertiser. While the platform, of course, becomes more brand safe and brands that have very stringent policies for advertising can take benefit of the same, it may also attract some more brands. It's going to create lesser supply and this could have an immediate impact on the costs/ CPMs. Given that there's a range of brands that speaks to this target audience, chances are they would compete among one another for the positions there.

Also, since pre-roll has been one of the largest revenue spinners, it would mean that narrowing down to much smaller kids' TG in this particular format would easily start commanding much higher premiums. Many global brands would be happy to pay the premium if it adheres to their own brand's suitability. Perhaps, this could also encourage the Google- YouTube teams to create newer opportunities/ formats for advertising for this same TG. It could also be yet another opportunity for the OTT platforms that have been launched / been set for children.

Saugato Bhowmik - business head, VOOT Kids

Our brand believes in creating a safe environment for children and we do believe that children should not be exposed to an advertising model. When children view something, they get mentally stimulated by moving visuals. Children are innately curious, so their basic instinct is to be drawn to these images.

Saugato Bhowmik
Saugato Bhowmik

This is a problem that parents face every day - finding a way to engage their children with meaningful digital content. They look for anything that helps them with overall social, mental and emotional development of their children. We do not depend on advertising as a revenue model because exposing children to advertising is not good for their overall long term health.

Raghu Bhat, founder and director, Scarecrow M&C Saatchi

One very obvious implication of the new policy is that monetisation of these videos might be affected as there will be fewer eyeballs on the content. Adults tend to view content once, maybe twice, but children are repeat viewers of content. If they like a content piece, they will watch it multiple times without getting tired of it.

Raghu Bhat
Raghu Bhat

In Europe especially, there are multiple concerns about YouTube not being safe for children. After the Blue Whale Challenge came up last year, it came to be known that children could be targeted and manipulated. It's clear that Google is trying to protect YouTube's audiences. Google wants to attract kids and bring them on to the platform, but they also have the moral responsibility of keeping these kids safe.

Naiyya Saggi - founder, chief executive officer, BabyChakra

On our platform, we facilitate conversations between users and many mothers have shared horror stories of their children being exposed to questionable content through YouTube's recommendation engine. Kids are extremely impressionable and can be traumatised when they accidentally view questionable content. It's a great move by YouTube to attempt to segregate and identify content that is relevant to children and then put checks and balances in place.

Naiyya Saggi
Naiyya Saggi

We also have advertisers on our platform (BabyChakra is a lifestyle and wellness platform for new mothers) who specifically target young mothers who may have other interests relating to lifestyle, fitness, food, nutrition, and so on. As a vertical, it is a new space that advertisers can explore and a very specific target audience for them to attempt to capture.

For these mothers, digital content consumption is a big concern that they bring up on our forums. It's unavoidable and sometimes, traumatising content is inserted in the middle of what appears to be 'safe' content, such as a video featuring a popular cartoon character. Such a change in policy is welcome.