Is Google's newly acquired kid-app company Launchpad the foundation for YouTube's child-friendly service? The free app, aimed at making the search for online videos a more kid- and parent-friendly experience, launches Monday for Android devices.
The kids app will serve content suitable for children, complete with parental control features, such as a feature to mute and un-mute videos, and a timer restricting the amount of time for each session. The app will strip away video comments and prevents kids for searching for unsuitable content.
The ability to browse channels and playlists are organized into four categories such as Shows, Music, Learning and Explore, per a Google spokesperson. Families can also search for topics they are curious about, from spaceships to seashells, and everything in between. The content will focus on discovering topics such as how-to build a model volcano, favorite songs, science and math tutorials- the possibilities are as endless as a child’s curiosity.
The app will ship with content from Jim Henson TV, DreamWorks, Mother Goose Club, and National Geographic, as well as a variety of high-profile YouTube stars. Strict rules for advertising could come between brands and kids. It's not clear whether YouTube will use its traditional advertising model or product placement. Google recently amended its advertising policy on YouTube to prohibit video overlays of sponsor logos and product branding unless the sponsor buys advertising.
Jared Belsky, president at 360i, said the app will curate selection of videos, with a self-policed community who will tag content that is not appropriate for kids. The app will support advertising targeted specifically to kids. "The ads will go through rigorous testing and review per YouTube," he said. "It will be compliant with COPPA and other regulations related to targeting ads to children."
To start, it appears advertising on YouTube for kids will follow similar formats to YouTube, which are ads that appear in slots that surround the content. "It will be interesting to see if advertising reigns via automation, defined slots, or if more customization via branded content deals become the norm in this new kids environment, where advertisers will naturally want to partner in more customized ways," Belsky said. "Video, it seems, is a natural arena for where the push and pull between desire for efficiency, biddable and standardized ad units, vs. customization, will play out. While programmatic video is certainly one of the buzzword topics, I believe that video can and will realize its fullest potential if branded content and more customized options exist for advertisers ready to make large commitments to this format."
A new generation of tech-savvy kids continues to move online. YouTube has seen an explosion in kid-related activity, as more mothers and fathers hand them a tablet to amuse them in stores while shopping or at a restaurant at the dinner table. Educational content also continues to rise. Viewing in YouTube's family entertainment channels grew by 200% year-over-year, compared with 50% growth across the site.
The YouTube app is part of a bigger push by Google to bring its online services to children. Aside from YouTube, Pavni Diwanji, the vice president of engineering heading the new initiative, told USA Today last December that Google plans to offer kid-friendly versions of search and Gmail. Google doesn’t allow users under age 13 to sign up for its service because of data-collection rules. Federal Trade Commission requires parental consent.