Marketers will spend $1.2bn by 2019 to reach kids on their tablets

Marketers are spending more to market to children outside of TV.

As children watch less TV, professional services network PwC said it expects the digital advertising market for kids to grow to $1.2bn by 2019 – at which point it will represent 28% of all advertising to children.

That’s according to PwC’s 2017 Kids’ Digital Advertising Report, which was commissioned by kids’ digital media company SuperAwesome.

The report notes this is a nascent but rapidly evolving market that was historically driven almost exclusively by TV spend. In fact, just five years ago, kids were still mostly watching TV. The advent of tablets and free content, however, means this has quickly changed, said SuperAwesome chief executive Dylan Collins.

“Today kids are spending time on apps, games, online video, [streaming video on demand],” Collins said. “Virtually any free content producer (e.g., most game developers) survives by including ads in their games.”

In fact, Collins said SuperAwesome was founded to build technology to deliver kid-safe ads in this context. And, by kid-safe, Collins said he means ads that are delivered by regulatory-compliant technology that ensures no data is collected on the child and the ad has been reviewed for age-appropriate content, based on the standards in each country.

“So this is why the kids’ digital ad market is growing by 25%+ per year and kids’ TV is declining,” Collins added. “Kids are consuming an ever-increasing amount of digital content through all of their devices.”

Growth is also expected in programmatic advertising to kids: PwC estimates 10 to 20% of kids’ digital ad spend will be on compliant programmatic advertising by 2019.

Collins said brands looking to reach children have two choices: They can work with content owners like Disney and Nickelodeon directly or work with a platform that gives them wider reach. In fact, this burgeoning kidtech space includes specialist platforms and technology that combine privacy with large-scale reach. This, in turn, helps marketers grapple with increasing data privacy requirements for kids’ activities online like COPPA in the US and GDPR in Europe. And, for its part, PwC said it expects some advertisers and brands to move away from publisher-centric relationships and adopt these purpose-built media platforms for scale and efficiency.

Collins noted part of the challenge is that up until now, Silicon Valley hadn’t really considered kids as part of the Internet.

“Every time you sign up to a service, you're generally ticking a box to say you're over 13,” he said. “Now, as they realize that kids have become the fastest-growing audience, they're rapidly trying to figure out how to create compliant (i.e., zero-data) digital experiences. In general, this involves creating new technology. It's this which has led to the creation of the nascent kidtech market sector…which is now growing incredibly quickly.”

In a press release, PwC media strategy partner Mark Maitland added, “The kids’ media market is going through the same transition which the mainstream space has been experiencing in recent years.”

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Lisa Lacy

Lisa Lacy is a senior reporter for The Drum, covering digital and search marketing. Based in New York, she writes about how brands use technology to connect with consumers, particularly as innovations like voice search, digital assistants and the Internet of Things change consumers’ lives forever – not to mention the data these platforms increasingly collect and the security and privacy issues therein. She is a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism. Her bucket list includes riding in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile.

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