Creators Struggle to Adapt to YouTube's COPPA Law - But They Don't Have To
JAN 30 2023

Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) is a 1999 US law created to protect children’s privacy under 13 and was updated in 2013. Under this law, digital entities are restricted from collecting personal information from users under 13 without the permission of their parents or guardians. YouTube settled with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over its COPPA rule violations in 2019.

As a creator you should be aware of the rules and regulations of YouTube or your channel may face some unwanted penalties. Later in the article, we talk about why you should not worry about the law. But first, let’s find out, what COPPA law means to you as a creator:

Understanding Google Guidelines: What Is Considered ‘Made For Kids Content’?

According to Google, whether or not you’re producing content for kids, you should consider the following factors in your content:

Still, one question’s left unanswered: What is the age requirement for a child to be considered a kid? In the United States, anyone under the age of 13 is considered to be a kid, although each country defines “kids” differently. So no matter your location, Google still applies YouTube COPPA law.

YouTube Kids, The Answer To Families’ Requests

Families always care about the content their children consume on the internet. This is a major source of worry about unsafe platforms; they have no complete control over the creators or the contents. 

Families trust YouTube as a source of knowledge and fun, but it is not true for many other platforms. YouTube introduced the YouTube Kids app in 2015, as a solution to the problem for parents. This new platform provides safe and age-appropriate videos created for young audiences.

YouTube kids introduced a double-filtering system. The first was YouTube’s own filter, which through a combination of a machine learning algorithm and manual screening features provides the platform's policy. The second is the parents’ filter which provides them more customization over their children’s menu by creating individual profiles for each kid. This tool restricts searches, blocks inappropriate videos, or reduces the time that children can spend on the YouTube Kids platform.

How Does Youtube COPPA Law Affect Your Channel?

First and foremost YouTube will collect fewer data for content intended for children to comply with COPPA law. This means that not all your videos will be treated the same by YouTube. The videos you marked as “intended for children” receive different settings:

YouTube’s Family And Kids Market - Statistics

Despite the rules and laws to restrict advertising and content aimed at children, it is still not the end of the world for digital marketers who want to target parents and children. But before we explain how you can do that, let’s take a look at some numbers to find out about its market:

One of the reasons that justify this preference for YouTube over other platforms is the authentic character portrayed by most YouTube videos. Since most of the contents are amateur recordings, they appear to be more appealing and more believable to children than professionally produced content, such as what we may find on other platforms.

Newly Added Features To Youtube Are Not As Perfect As You Think

After YouTube announced that every creator must comply with YouTube COPPA law, they added new features such as a new audience setting to their interface that let you tell whether your videos are intended for children. 

Although YouTube is implementing a machine learning system to find out about content specifically made for kids, the platform advises creators NOT to rely on it as a perfect reference and there are more requirements you should consider yourself.

Two Ways To Comply With Youtube COPPA Law 

You have two options to select your audience on YouTube: 1. Choosing the settings in your individual videos or 2. Set it up in your entire channel.

Whether you are creating content for kids or not, YouTube requires that you make it clear in the settings that your channel is making content for children or for other age groups. 

YouTube mentions that they will rely on these settings more than their machine learning systems. You can do this by going to ‘Settings’ in YouTube studio, then going to the 'Channel' tab, and then ‘Advanced Settings’ and then choosing the 'Audience’ section, and choosing an option that is close to your channel’s purpose. 

YouTube Studio > Settings > Channel > Advanced Settings > Choose related audience

For your previously created videos, you can go to the ‘Videos’ tab in your YouTube studio, select any videos, then go to ‘Audience.’ Now mark your videos as ‘made for children.’

YouTube Studio > Video > Select videos > Audience

You’ll be prompted to answer the question every time you upload a video. If you have selected settings for a channel level, these settings will be selected for you automatically. From now on, every video that you create will have the correct settings for the ‘Audience’ category and you should have no problems.

Potential Fine Possible If Creators Do Not Comply

Under COPPA law, the FTC is permitted to ask for around $42000 for each video that they consider as misleading. This is a potential fine and does not mean that every children's content creator or advertiser will face penalties.

What If I Forget To Label My Content For Kids?

Don’t worry if you missed setting your audience marked as made for kids, or if YouTube detects any signs of incorrect setup, it automatically sets the audience parameters for you. This reduces the chances of penalties by the FTC later.

YouTube Kids Can Be Used As An Advertising Platform

As discussed earlier, the YouTube COPPA law protects kids’ rights to their privacy and protection against improper content created on the app. But advertising to kids is a major source of income for YouTube and any other content-sharing platform. Therefore, YouTube allows advertisers to still advertise to their target groups, but with particular requirements and limitations. 

Here are some rules and regulations for advertising on YouTube Kids:

One of the greatest differences between YouTube and YouTube Kids is that on YouTube kids you cannot ask for immediate action. The reason is that the option for clickable ads with a URL that directs users to a website or landing pages designed to attract leads has been disabled.

In addition to that, YouTube kids forbid interest-based advertising and the usage of remarketing or retargeting tactics.

Contextual Advertising Intelligence

With YouTube COPPA law it is more difficult to target children and families than before. This is true for toy companies, stationery manufacturers, accessory brands, and video game makers to market to the entire family. 

On the other hand, every marketer knows that children influence their parents and other family members into buying or consuming certain brands. This means they have the power to alter the consumer journey by purchasing products. 

There are still ways you can reach the little ones. The first method is sponsored advertising on YouTube Kids under expert supervision, as was previously explained. The other tactic is to advertise your products and use them in a context rather than advertise directly to consumers. 

Channel or video segmentation in collaboration with other factors such as location, the operating system, the type of device, or the keywords the users type when looking for new information, can be used to target desired audiences in any age group. 

This approach can bring along more certainty and reliability that ads on YouTube Kids will be shown to children of the right age. It complies with YouTube Kids rules and laws that promise an online space that is limited and designed for kids where both videos and advertisements are tailored to their needs.

Additionally, by using contextual advertising you can deliver brand safety and privacy-compliant video campaigns to ensure that your advertisements will not be used against the wrong content or to the wrong audience. You can have insight into what you buy in the pre-bid phase. This is a crucial step to ensure you have the necessary control to get maximum brand safety.

Contextual Targeting

Contextual targeting and segmenting usually work through a combination of natural language processing, human interaction, and AI. Implementing these processes allow bands to have the ability to advertise on a video basis rather than a channel basis. The huge advantage of contextually-driven video-level targeting is that you can avoid a reasonable percentage of wastage that is somehow inevitable with channel-level targeting.

Ads that are contextually aligned result in higher recall in children. Therefore not only contextual advertising meets the required standards of current privacy laws, but they also provide higher campaign ROI. 

By partnering with knowledgeable third-party expert teams like Driver Studios, who offer significant ROI with a dedication to brand safety and compliance, brands can easily avoid any uncertainty regarding the situations that arise after the YouTube COPPA rule.

Photo by Souvik Banerjee on Unsplash

Influencer Marketing Works Best For YouTube

Another approach for YouTube marketing and advertising is influencer marketing. Studies by Wunderman Thomson commerce proved that 25% of US and UK children ages 6 to 16 were receptive to influencers. 

Influencers are video makers on YouTube. This impact of influencers was only second to friends at 28% and higher than the influence of family members with a 21% rate. In another study by Insight Strategy Group, it was found that 77% of children trusted YouTubers more than ads.

With parents influenced by their children's choices and recommendations, you can be sure that these efforts will lead to the shopping cart. 

A survey by the National Retail Federation found that 67% of parents involve their children in the shopping process and look at online items together. Looking through products was not the only path to online shopping, as 56% of parents involved their kids by adding items to their wish lists and ultimately shopping for those items.

Product reviews are another deciding factor in parents' shopping habits. The survey showed that 54% of parents would read and watch online reviews with their children. Watching videos on YouTube on how items work and how they hold up is one of the ways families choose to decide about purchasing items. YouTube has a clear and positive influence over families and how they look for, browse, research, and buy products and services. 

Final Words On Advertising And YouTube COPPA Law

US children watch YouTube more than any other type of media. At first glance, with the introduction of the YouTube COPPA law, advertisers started to worry about how they could target their audience, including families and children. 

Some called it the end of advertising to children on YouTube. But after all these years, there are still powerful and effective ways to advertise to children and families without violating laws and regulations. 

It requires collaboration with a professional team of experts to find out new solutions to reach families and children safely. You will need customized business strategies to reach your marketing goals on the growing market of YouTube. By partnering with Drive Studios, you can deliver your message reliably to kids, teens, and their parents.