Since the beginning of January 2020, personalized ads have stopped showing in children’s content on YouTube. In addition, some features such as comments, hints, end screens, and others are no longer available in children’s videos.
In this article, we will analyze what can be considered children’s content on YouTube, who should mark a video as such, and what kind of advertising can still be shown in videos for young viewers.
What has changed at the beginning of 2020?
Since January, YouTube has made it mandatory for channel owners to indicate whether their videos are for kids using a special option in the Creative Studio.
However, YouTube has restricted the collection and processing of user data in videos intended for children. You cannot collect data about all users who view children’s content – regardless of their age.
As a result, some YouTube functions stopped working in videos for children. For example, at the video level, comments, notifications, hints and end-screens, sponsorships, chat and donations in it, ticket and merchandise sales, and others can be disabled. At the channel level – sponsorship, notification badge, recordings, and stories. For a complete list, see Help.
Content intended for children will not appear in public video likes and user subscriptions. Personalized ads have also stopped showing.
Overall, the interaction with children’s content on YouTube.com has been minimized. The company limited the collection and use of data to only what is necessary to support the operation of the service.
Why is this happening?
The changes are necessary for YouTube to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). This Act is passed in the United States and governs sites for children under the age of 13. It also applies to sites built for a wider audience that includes children.
Although YouTube is not intended for children, they can use it with parental permission.
And despite the fact that the Law has been adopted and operates in the United States, YouTube authors are required to comply with it, regardless of which country they are located in. In fact, video hosting has made these rules mandatory for all users.
Does this mean that no ads will be shown on children’s channels and videos?
YouTube has stopped serving personalized ads – ads customized to user data. However, contextual advertising will continue to work.
Google includes personalized ads that target remarketing lists, general interest audiences, special interest audiences, interested buy audiences, similar audiences, as well as those configured using demographic targeting, geo targeting, and contextual keyword targeting.
Non-personalized ads — ads that are contextualized, not user data — include ads that are targeted to topics, placements, and devices. For more information, see the article on targeting video campaigns.
Can any videos be classified as children’s content?
No. It is important to understand that content is not considered intended for children just because they can find and watch it.
You should rely on what audience the content should attract. It can target a wide audience – teenagers and older viewers. For example, animated videos for any audience or videos about a hobby. They are not geared towards children, but young viewers can watch them. You don’t need to mark them as children.
Then what content is considered childish?
Children’s video content includes videos whose target audience is children. And also videos that meet the criteria listed below, even if they are primarily created for a different age category. According to the law, such videos are classified as content for viewers of all ages – a subtype of content for children.
The laws of different countries define children’s age in different ways. In the United States, it is limited to 13 years. Authors should clarify what age is considered a child in their country.
To determine if a video is child content, YouTube suggests reviewing the criteria outlined by the US Federal Trade Commission (FCS). In its help, video hosting recommends evaluating which audience the content should attract, taking into account the following factors:
- whether the topic of the video is interesting for children;
- is the video intended primarily for children, or can it just interest them;
- whether young actors or models are filmed in it;
- Are there characters, cartoon characters, toys or famous people popular among children in the video;
- how simple and clear the language of the video is for children;
- are there any learning elements in the video;
- is any other activity shown that may be of interest to children (for example, games, performances or simple songs);
- Are there children’s songs, stories or poems in the video?
- whether the video or its metadata contains information that may indicate the target audience;
- Whether the content is being promoted to children.
What should channel owners do?
Authors should note whether their videos are child-friendly. For this, a special setting has appeared in the Creative Studio. It can be set in two ways:
- for the entire channel (applies to all uploaded and future videos);
- for each individual video.
You can also mark as children only a part of the downloaded videos. Learn more in YouTube Help.
In addition, Google’s machine learning will identify and tag children’s videos. If the flag was set by mistake, the channel author can change it.
Even creators who don’t create content for kids need to specify channel audiences. This will, among other things, allow the system to make estimates more accurate.
If a creator assigns the wrong categories to videos, YouTube may take action against their account.
All of these changes will impact content creators and may lower their income. YouTube writes that it is committed to helping creators navigate the new environment and supporting the family content ecosystem. In the coming months, the company will be talking more about the rules and opportunities for work.
YouTube is also discussing with the FCS the importance of clear guidelines to help creators meet their legal obligations and support access to quality children’s content.