How advertisers are unlocking the potential of kids-themed content on CTV

Jennifer D’Alessandro, head of ad sales and marketing, HappyKids

There’s been a lot of talk in the digital industry about how the proliferation of ad-supported streaming services has unlocked a wide range of new inventory in high-quality, highly targetable environments. But it’s tricky to turn all of that talk into action when advertisers remain wary of how inflation could affect their consumers — not to mention the resources their own businesses may have in the near future. 

As always, advertisers are pressed to optimize media spend and minimize waste while ensuring optimal performance and value. 

There’s less discussion about how streaming content directed toward children and families presents an undervalued opportunity that can deliver against advertisers’ needs. Inventory on streaming kids-themed content is plentiful and growing in scale, and the ways in which buying works in this environment provide the kind of campaign insights advertisers don’t always get from connected TV. 

Kids-themed streaming content is emerging as a new and significant future arena for advertiser competition. As new data shows, it’s not just the young ones with eyes on the screen — when it comes to kids-themed marketing opportunities, parents are watching too. 

Kids-themed media offers more transparency in a brand-safe environment

For marketers, advertising on kids-themed media comes with a particular consideration: COPPA and other regulations and compliance requirements that keep inventory around children’s programming out of the open exchanges. 

Instead, advertisers need to buy through direct deals or advanced programmatic channels like private marketplaces (PMPs) and programmatic guaranteed (PG). However, knowing that one of the marketing team’s CTV pain points — the lack of transparency about placements from major streaming platforms — is removed from the buy when it comes to kids-themed media, the compliance parameters in play actually create a solution all their own, replacing third-party vendors with publisher direct transparency.

Additionally, according to a study by TV Rev, kids’ TV programming is far less likely to contain brand-unsuitable content than other programming types. That’s a boon for advertisers concerned about their campaigns running alongside inappropriate content, and this is especially important on social media platforms, where inappropriate content often slips through the cracks. 

Contextual advertising allows brands to reach families post–cookies 

Kids- and family-themed inventory also gives advertisers a significant opportunity to reach households through a single ad placement.

Particularly on streaming platforms, kids-themed content is increasingly being co-viewed — watched with a larger audience in the home. A HappyKids survey, for example, found that 94% of parents said they have been co-viewing more content intended for their young ones in the last 12 months. This reflects how households make purchasing decisions, with multiple members of the family involved, and it’s an opportunity for brands, such as CPGs, that want to reach the adults in a household.

Advertisers reaching consumers through kids-themed streaming content are also less likely to be impacted by the loss of third-party cookies, whether that loss results from government legislation or policies introduced by influential Big Tech businesses. 

Most ads in this space are delivered through contextual targeting rather than audience criteria and, therefore, are not based on third-party cookies. In this space, context is the central part of what advertisers want transparency around. 

Contextual advertising is also an effective way to reach kids and teens online. A study by DoubleVerify finds that consumers are more likely to pay attention to ads that are relevant to the content they’re viewing. By working with publishers and platforms equipped with contextual targeting technology, advertisers are supporting privacy and providing a better overall experience for audiences with relevant and impactful ads — ultimately delivering strong results.

Despite being in high demand, kids-themed inventory remains underutilized, waiting for advertisers to stake a claim

Advertisers have only recently become aware of this inventory’s value. According to a study by MediaRadar, U.S. ad investments in children’s content and programming grew by nearly 50% to $1.6 billion in 2022, driven primarily by digital video, including ad-supported streaming. And with so many new streaming channels and platforms entering the ad-supported market, the scale available across that inventory is still new and under-explored. Now is the time for advertisers to make moves in this space. Demand for kids-themed inventory is on the rise, but the market remains relatively untapped for the moment.

In advertising on kids- and family-themed streaming programming, the winners in this space will be those willing to explore direct deals, advanced programmatic channels and the vast volume of content on smaller kids-oriented apps — rather than focusing only on the biggest streaming platforms. And with the adoption of streaming services accelerating, the winners will make that a near-term move. 

Sponsored by HappyKids

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