Remapping the Children’s TV Landscape

With live children's TV viewing figures falling as kids turn to laptops, iPads and smartphones, the media landscape we once knew is transforming before our eyes.

So, what does this mean for broadcasters, agencies and, most importantly, advertisers?

The shift

2017 saw an 18% year-on-year fall in live viewing figures for kids’ TV, with 43% of children aged 8-15 now preferring YouTube; up from 29% in 2016.

Indeed, according to Ofcom’s Media Use and Attitudes Report for 2017, 83% of kids aged 12-15 now own a smartphone and 55% a tablet. This age group spent 21 hours online each week in 2017, with 68% claiming to watch TV on another device and 90% saying they go on YouTube regularly.

The appetite for digital content can be seen in younger age-groups, too, with 71% of 5-7-year-olds and 81% of those aged 8-11 using YouTube. In terms of total hours spent online a week, kids in each age bracket clock 9 hours and 13.5 hours respectively.

The response

For commercial broadcasters operating in this evolving sphere, diversifying the options available to advertisers is crucial. This is reflected in the continuing roll out and expansion of online platforms like ITV Hub, DisneyNow, NOW TV and Ketchup TV.

But delivering video-on-demand services alone is no longer enough. Kids – especially those in the younger age brackets – want to immerse themselves in the worlds of their favourite characters and shows, exhibiting a love for related games, competitions, fun features and micro video content through their proclivity for apps, websites and social media.

This presents new and varied opportunities for brands to deliver contextually relevant, interactive advertising campaigns across the entire span of a child’s media day; be it in the guise of pre-roll ad inventory, sponsorships or full editorial takeovers. Crucially, it also supplies safe spaces free from potentially harmful content and ad fraud.

The YouTube factor

Which brings us on to YouTube. With 17% of children aged 8-11 and 29% of 12-15 year-olds saying they have seen online content they found ‘worrying or nasty’ in the last year, the demand for safe spaces is acute. Nowhere else has this been more pronounced than with world’s largest video-sharing platform, the scene of various boycotts as advertisers look to protect their brands.

Yet kids love YouTube. The conundrum, therefore, is how do broadcasters protect brands that want to capitalise on its popularity? Cue customised ad channels.

Teaming up with Precise TV as its exclusive kids publishing partner, Turner has spent the last 18 months cultivating its YouTube audience to provide marketers with an opportunity to reach children with contextually relevant video ads in a brand safe location. It allows advertisers to develop deeper connections with their audience, as reflected in view rates of over 30%.

So, is live TV obsolete?

Where does this leave traditional TV, then? Despite the online shift, television still commands substantial viewing audiences that make it a perfect vehicle for maximising both brand awareness and direct response. By dovetailing its mass-reach power with the more personalised, interactive opportunities available online, advertisers are ensuring their strategy is attuned with the changing media habits of children.

Ultimately, the key for advertisers looking to master this new terrain is to embrace both the familiar and new. Children don’t sit still, after all, so why should brands?