Mobile Marketing to Kids: Win Without Breaking the Rules

By April 18, 2021 No Comments

It’s increasingly difficult to find kids these days. 
They are not huddled around TV sets watching cartoons like they were 20, 10, or even 5 years ago.  In fact, according to a recent PwC report, the time spent by kids watching TV has gone down by as much as 50% over the last 4 years.

Where have the kids gone?

You don’t have to look far for the answer. Just like adults, kids have moved their time and attention to their new “best friend”: their mobile devices. 
US kids are reported to spend an average of five hours per day on their mobile devices, making that platform the number one choice for kids.

What does this mean for marketers?
When it comes to marketing, the first rule is to put your message in the place where your market is.  If your user is a child, then you must be marketing on mobile or you are not reaching your customer in their favourite place. 

The second rule of marketing is to ensure your message complies with marketing guidelines as set out by national advertising authorities, and mobile platform owners Google and Apple.  

When marketing to kids, the rules are complex.  In the United States, the FTC has implemented COPPA , which details how information can be collected and data tracked when advertising to children.  If an advertiser does not comply with COPPA, they can be subject to hefty fines, as seen recently by YouTube’s $150 million penalty.  Further, Google and Apple have each written their own rulebook when it comes to marketing to kids on iOS or Android.  Marketers and publishers need to be mindful that both country law and platform rules are followed, so as to not be at risk of a financial or operational penalty.

For brands to stay safe when advertising to kids, and not encounter the risks of launching non-compliant campaigns, it pays to work with certified COPPA-compliant mobile networks.

A COPPA-compliant network will conduct customer targeting using contextual (rather than data driven) targeting and not perform any re-targeting through the use of device tracking. 

The Return of Contextual Targeting

Contextual targeting is the art of making assumptions about the user’s characteristics based on the type of content that they are consuming (rather than data tracking).  When it comes to children in the 6-9 age demographic (a popular segment with marketers), boys tend to spend more time in driving and competitive games, whereas girls tend to spend their time in role playing and fashion related games.  A network that is delivering value to advertisers and publishers will use a variety of contextual inputs and review the content by hand to assign a contextual segment to the content.


Google Play and the App Store: What’s their take?

In May 2019, Google published an update regarding their commitment to child-safe advertising.  Of the hundreds of mobile advertising networks globally, Google certified an original short list of only a few networks (that they believed to have relevant and compliant content and systems) allowing them into any app that includes children in its target audience. 
Publishers using any network to monetize their content after September 1st, 2019 would no longer be compliant with Google’s policies of Google Play.  Additionally, Google made an important distinction in its announcement as the new rules would apply not only to apps that purely target children, but also those that target children as well as adults, and therefore have mixed traffic.  Google states in their published rules that apps with mixed traffic of both adults and children should implement age gates to segment traffic, and then use only the listed certified networks to monetize the segment of children.

In September 2019, Apple similarly announced an update to its App Store policies, which included a clear guideline on apps that target children and the advertising monetization to be allowed on iOS.  Apple’s rules require no data tracking of any kind (following COPPA) with the additional requirement that the only advertising networks allowed for use in apps on the iOS platform must curate every ad creative by hand (i.e., human review) before they are placed live on the network.  This requirement for human review by Apple sets a new bar for mobile advertising networks to pass, and the most strict rule to date that has been placed on mobile advertising networks.  With most advertising networks relying heavily on programmatic systems to achieve scale, it is inconceivable for most networks to hand (human) curate every advertising creative that goes live on their platform.  Therefore, most of the certified networks on Google’s list will not be compliant on Apple iOS apps.

When Brand Safety Meets Kid Safety

What is required by brands to safely reach kids on mobile at scale, are advertising networks that are designed with the compliance and safety of kids in mind from their initial conception.  Only when the core of the business is focused on understanding the advertising rules and creating compliant monetization tools for the children’s segment, can brand safety on mobile be ensured.
If brands want to reach kids in their favourite location (and that certainly is mobile), they should use a COPPA-safe network that: 

  • Specializes in mobile 
  • Has the largest adoption by mobile publishers
  • Has the largest contextual reach on mobile

Kidoz is the world’s most popular COPPA-compliant mobile-focused advertising network that was designed to help brands reach kids in their favourite content, in a compliant and engaging way.  Today, Kidoz is the leader in mobile contextual advertising solutions with a network of more than 4,000 apps using its technology that reaches more than 300 million kids every month.   Kidoz is listed on Google’s certified safe list and employs hand (human) curation of every campaign creative that goes live, making it compliant for use on Apple’s iOS.


Kidoz is kid safe, GDPR safe, brand-safe, and delivers some of the highest engagement metrics in the industry because children on the Kidoz network are not only engaged, but the ads are also relevant.  When children are using their mobile devices, unlike desktop or YouTube, they are completely focused on their screens and actively engaged in the content.  When advertising breaks arrive, children are focused on the ads and often engage actively and positively with the brands.

Marketing is an art.  When marketing to children, it is important to use the tools that keep your brand safe and ensure the highest possible targeting and performance, while always abiding by the applicable rules. 

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