YouTube’s targeted ads on kids’ content may cease due to tech giant Google (YouTube’s owner) being fined for kids’ data privacy violations.
The fine is a result of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) investigation of how Google was collecting data from underage users, a direct violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which prohibits tracking and targeting users aged 13 and younger. Google is set to pay $150 million to $200 million.
Targeted ads, also known as “behavioral” ads, collect information about viewers. The move to end these types of ads on YouTube’s content for kids hasn’t been confirmed as a decision prompted by investigation results, but Bloomberg has reported the company’s plans to do so are in discussions. Sources were not named due to ongoing investigations.
Ending targeted ads on kids’ content may not fully resolve issues for complainants worried about data tracking. If children were to watch videos YouTube doesn’t recognize as kids’ content, their information could still be tracked.
YouTube maintains its main site isn’t geared toward a younger audience and recommends parents direct children to their YouTube Kids app instead. YouTube Kids comes with pre-filtered content and no targeted ads or commenting features. Parents also have stricter parental controls and screen time controls available.
More recently, YouTube launched the website version of YouTube Kids. The site’s verification system is based on a simple math problem. If a user can solve the math problem, they’re considered an adult and able to give parental consent for a child to watch.
The app does have ads appearing on it. According to YouTube’s help center: “All YouTube Kids paid ads must be pre-approved by YouTube’s policy team prior to being served in the YouTube Kids app.”
They also stated, “YouTube Kids advertising policies may evolve over time.” The page encourages users to check for updates often.
Young viewers make up the majority of the main site’s population and young creators on the platform are thriving.
Research firm Loup Ventures estimates YouTube’s revenue from kids’ content is between $500 million and $750 million a year.