April 3, 2020
Toy brands have capitalized on the power of so-called “kidfluencers” to help build brand loyalty and engagement in recent years. Children as young as four are building YouTube followings and eight-year-olds are earning more than $20 million a year in advertising revenue as brands look for ways to promote their products to children who are spending less time watching TV.
Now, the YouTube influencer space is undergoing a dramatic change. Beginning January 1st, YouTube updated its policies to treat content aimed at kids differently, and to ensure that content is compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (or COPPA). Content creators, which include influencers and brands, bear the burden for compliance and are required to label if their content or channels is appropriate for children. Creators who are found to violate the rule by mislabelling their content are subject to fines of up to $42,530 per video.
Shifting YouTube policies
YouTube’s movement toward creating a safer space for child viewers is long overdue, but these new rules are having an impact on paid influencers who use the channel to market to kids. Toy brands are perhaps taking the hardest hit, as they are trying to navigate the new rules and questioning whether the influencer channel is still the best way to reach an audience at scale.
Fortunately, toy brands have options to leverage an influencer-like model that puts toys in the hands of real people and can yield immediate ROI.
Much of YouTube’s value for toy brands comes from having these influencers unbox their toys and review them, showing how fun they can be to children (and their parents). While the new YouTube rules and COPPA compliance won’t totally eliminate this channel for toy brands, they do need to proceed with caution, rather than trying to blindly expand their presence in this space.
Alternate strategies that build connections
Those that either can’t or are uncomfortable leveraging YouTube right now have an urgency to find new outlets to get their products in front of potential buyers. Again, the reason that YouTube was so vital was that it helped reach audiences that weren’t exposed to TV, so investing heavily in TV isn’t an easy solution.
The goal is to still rely on the concept of influencers. However, brands need to go beyond YouTube and digital showcasing and put the toys in the hands of children and parents. Over the years, we at Ripple Street have connected our community of more than 1.4million volunteer influencers with dozens of toy brands such as LittleTikes, YULU, LEGO Duplo, and Learning Resources, and have consistently seen success driving their KPIs. These programs get the products into the hands of parents and their children in the most intimate setting and drive authentic reviews, photos, videos, and other UGC content opportunities for toy brands. Here are just a few fun photos of toy programs we have run in the past:
New avenues for content creation
Through these types of programs, toy brands gain great social posts from families across the country. While the reach of these smaller groups may not equal the millions who watch the top toy influencers on YouTube, these in-home experiences with children can lead to a great deal of marketing content and change hearts, minds, and influence purchases long after the program. For example, here’s a campaign we did with Little Tikes for Springlings Surprise.
Since this content is drawn from real experiences, not from actors, it’s rich and authentic. For some brands, UGC can replace traditional studio shoots, resulting in immediate cost savings for creative. This content can be leveraged across all channels – brands can use the video on their own YouTube channels, but also in pre-roll ads, and other social channels. It can even find its way into the packaging or in-store displays, capturing real, authentic moments of excitement and joy.
Brands unsure of the future of YouTube and the influencer model would benefit from exploring new ways to directly connect with parents and their children. Ripple Street can help develop and launch these plans, right now.