YouTube Kids App Makes Its Debut, Still Includes Ads
Last year, we reported that Gmail and YouTube accounts specifically designed for children were in the works. Now that the YouTube Kids app has finally launched, we may now be seeing the beginning of a full-on strategy from Google to develop child-friendly services.
Privacy, data collection and ethical concerns aside, the new app could be good news for parents as well as businesses that cater to small children. Video marketing is incredibly effective, and YouTube Kids may present a new portal by which family-friendly organizations can get some exposure - if they deem it ethical to do so.
Parental Controls and Content
The video content available on YouTube Kids will come from major entertainment brands geared towards children, such as Reading Rainbow, Jim Henson TV, National Geographic Kids, Thomas the Tank Engine, Sesame Street, DreamWorks TV and many others. At the same time, some video content will come from select YouTube channels such as Stampylonghead that have already established themselves as family-friendly and wildly popular with kids. According to TechCrunch, video content is filtered down by YouTube's algorithm according to how family-friendly it is. The content is then manually sampled by a quality control team to ensure its appropriateness. Videos are sorted into four categories: Music, Learning, Shows and Explore.
Children in the "early literacy" age group - about five-years-old and younger - are the intended audience for much of what will be on YouTube Kids. Despite YouTube ensuring that the available videos will all be appropriate, there are still some parental controls that adults can set. For example, parents can establish a time limit on how long their child can use the app. Sound settings can also be adjusted by parents to give themselves a break from the music and sound effects present in many children's videos.
Google insists that YouTube Kids is a "logged-out experience," meaning that kids won't necessarily be getting valuable recommendations about what to watch next. This could cause some poor experiences when considering that content for five-year-olds can be very different from content intended for toddlers. Nevertheless, this aspect of YouTube Kids hopefully represents an intent to refrain from collecting data.
The overall design of the app is intended to make it easy for young children to search and navigate. Youtube Kids is currently available for free in the iTunes app store.
Getting Your Video Onto YouTube Kids... Or Not
YouTube Kids is likely to end up being used by thousands of families. If you think your company could benefit by having some content on YouTube Kids, there are basically two ways to do it: upload family-friendly video to YouTube or pay to advertise. As of right now, much of the content on the app is created by large brands. However, many user-created channels also exist, and they're likely to increase over time. While there is no way to upload directly to YouTube Kids, creating a regular YouTube channel full of child-oriented content will seriously increase the chances of some of your videos eventually being approved for viewing in the app. Because of the two-step video approval process as well as the newness of the app, it may take some time before your videos start showing up.
Of course, companies that have the budget and capability to advertise with YouTube may also gain some exposure through the app. However, ads that appear in YouTube kids will not be allowed to have click-through links or product purchasing offers.
None of this takes into account the morality of advertising and content marketing to children this young, however. Many people are concerned about whether or not using what is sure to be a wildly popular children's app for marketing purposes is ethical. Truly appropriate content marketing should focus strictly on the quality of the content and its value to viewers, ideally making video marketing on YouTube Kids completely ethical. However, many would argue that Google should ensure marketers, and especially straight-up advertisers, stay away from children this young. What do you think?