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Advertising to Kids: Advertisers Need Other Channels to Reach Children

Advertising to Kids in a Streaming Age

October 4th, 2016   ||    by Monta Monaco Hernon

Children are watching fewer commercials, perhaps as much as 150 hours fewer per year, according to a new study by Exstreamist. That amounts to slightly more than six days of time.

In days gone by, kids were a captive audience on Saturday mornings during cartoon time with no way to fast forward or otherwise skip ads aimed at sparking their commercialism. When cable came on the scene, there was a whole new world of networks devoted solely to children’s programming, opening up new avenues for advertising to kids.

Now, streaming is on the scene. Children between the ages of two and eighteen watch 1.8 hours of content per day through services like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube—which amounts to 650 hours per year. Exstreamist concludes that if kids were watching the programming via live TV instead, they would see 150 hours of advertisements. This estimate assumes fourteen minutes of ads on average per hour of television, according to Nielsen data from 2014.

Ad-Free, Big Business

The streaming services have been making large investments in children’s programming. Netflix has said it will release thirty-five kid-friendly shows by the end of the year. Amazon has produced the same amount of kids’ programming as it has comedies, according to Business Insider. They see the expenditure as a business advantage by giving parents an ad-free option for a fee. Marketing to children is an increasingly hot topic from child advocacy groups who are concerned with the effect of advertising to kids and the pervasiveness of advertising in the digital age. The companies view this as making a subscription-based service even more attractive.

What this means for advertisers is less live TV exposure in a market where “kid-focused” ad inventory is already slimmer due to the decreasing popularity of Saturday morning cartoons and afternoon children’s broadcast programming, as MediaLife magazine explains.

Programmatic Solution

The increase in streaming among the younger set demonstrates the need for advertisers to make the most out of the time they have.

Children, on average, still watch 16,000 ads per year. Programmatic technology provides a way to make data-driven decisions about where and when to most effectively place messages. There are, of course, federal regulations preventing tracking children under the age of thirteen, and for good reason. But, information about what children’s programming has the highest viewership, for example, can help advertisers make informed purchases. Additionally, by helping determine which parents would be the best match for a product, programmatic pairs sellers with receptive buyers.

Programmatic platforms also can facilitate cross-media marketing. There are opportunities to mesh strategies for digital and television as well as combine this with marketing in video gaming—projected to be a $7.2 billion market this year, noted Venture Beat—and in new media like virtual reality, which is expected to become more widely used in the 2017–2018 time frame, according to PwC.

Utilizing programmatic’s methodology and automation, media buyers will be able to optimize their strategies by finding the right audiences and sending the right messages to the right types of devices.

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