Friday, April 10, 2015

YouTube Kids App - Part 2

Adding to the prior post on the YouTube Kids App, I wanted to highlight 2 aspects of the complaints against the app:
"Many of the [unboxing] videos on YouTube Kids appear to be user-generated. Some, however, have undisclosed relationships with product manufacturers," reads the complaint. Unboxing videos are immensely popular on YouTube accounting for 20 Million searches alone last year. From one perspective, if the unboxing video truly provides entertainment and/or informative value to the viewer, then does it qualify as native content or an ad? Furthermore, if the unboxing video does not include a call to action to buy the product but simply concludes by showing the unboxing, can it still be characterized as an ad?
- Secondly, the complaint points out that videos and advertising on YouTube Kids are played in a continuous stream, counter to the TV rules that require a five-second "bumper" between ads and shows. The ads are certainly denoted as promotional considerations by the sponsoring brands, but the ads themselves purportedly come across as content such that the viewer (in this case a child) isn’t immediately aware that they are watching an ad.

Both these complaints hold weight (pun unintended). YouTube is definitely waltzing on the blurry lines between ads and content here. And it doesn’t help that the viewing audience is more gullible. This is another example of how digital, mobile-first guidelines need to be contemplated keeping these mediums and platforms in mind; and that advertisers will constantly push the envelope to break through to their audiences.

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