Viewing is becoming more fragmented, with kids moving away from linear and on to more digital platforms. This creates a challenge for brands who are now no longer able to reach the % of kids they were able to previously.

Working within the kids industry, we often see the same questions coming through as a result of this:

“Now viewing is so fragmented, how can we best effectively reach and engage the younger audience?”

“Should we be moving to a digital first approach?”

We know that kids have a large repertoire of platforms they utilize to tap into various types of entertainment content, with YouTube, Gaming and SVOD being the top ways they like to spend this time:

We might assume then that these are the best platforms to use when communicating to this audience to offset the decline with the more traditional communication through linear TV, but everything is not as it seems.

Industry questions can sometimes be based on more “buzz”, effectively what brands think/ see is happening, leading them to adapt strategies to incorporate what is effectively industry myth. To help inform the industry as a whole, to ensure strategies are based on fact and not myth we created some proprietary research projects; Kids and the Screen, Little Voices and the Critical Media Point. These have enabled us to allow the brands we work with to base their strategies on truth, to utilise some of the radical shifts which are occurring right now, but also identify the future opportunities that exist.

We need to look beyond the immediate viewing behaviours/ attitudes, both in terms of influence and trend data to ensure we are basing strategies on actual truth.

Whilst kids are utilizing digital platforms, we can’t just assume this is then the best way we should be communicating with them. We need to also consider other important elements of influence, partly due to the age of the audience we are looking at:

  • Strategies need to reflect changes over age, with a 6-9 year old very different to a 10-12 year old. Whilst TikTok is not an influence for 6-9’s, with a third of 6-9’s seeing the best influences on YouTube, it is increasing in importance in advert engagement as they get older, coming in at joint 2nd with Live TV for 10-12’s. This highlights the difference even across what we might consider a small difference in age
  • Kids absorb communications differently based on the content they are viewing, which has big implications for effectiveness resonance of messaging. After seeing an advert on Live TV, 7 out of 10 6-9 year olds asked for a toy, vs 2 in 10 asking for a video game.  Kids are twice as likely to ask for clothes they see on Instagram vs toys. We have seen this through our Kids and the Screen research too, where advert recall is more linked to the content they are watching, so on YouTube where they are watching a variety of content, the advert which resonate are varied too. Therefore, brands need to consider which platform offers them the best route for engagement depending on the category they exist within.
  • Parents are often the gatekeepers and there is still a barrier that remains with adverts being shown on the up and coming advertising platforms like gaming and social media. In their last purchase for their child, parents are twice as likely to have purchased from inspiration from Live TV, with half disliking their child watching adverts on more digital platforms. We can’t ignore the gatekeeper influence with them ultimately purchasing the end product.

Trend data enables to leverage opportunities which exist in a rapidly shifting world

Whilst there is no crystal ball for the future, analysing trend data enables us to separate what is a micro behavioural shift and what is an actual behavioural change which needs more careful consideration.

We are now in our fourth year of Kids and the Screen, over the years we have collected over 90,000 viewing occasions. We have garnered a huge amount of insight into kids viewing, looking at the complete picture surrounding each moment.

Most of those learnings are based in the here and now, to enable brands to create effective immediate strategies. As part of analysis, we must also look to the future to help future proof our strategies and ensure we stay one step ahead of the game. We have been able to correctly predict some of the trends we are now seeing, with our next wave of data due, it will be very interesting to see how behaviours from future waves has evolved.

So what do we think we will see?

  • On demand behaviours will continue to grow, eroding away some of the other behaviours we thought were safe e.g. YouTube viewing.  On Demand is satisfying important needs like binge watching, family viewing but within a child friendly safe space and putting content selection at kids fingertips. Those platforms which have adapted to incorporate child friendly navigation and communication will continue to win in this space e.g. Sky On Demand and BBC iPlayer Kids.
  • Online may well continue to decline. Brands already have a challenge reaching kids with the decline of linear TV, switching to YouTube to top up the reach. However, YouTube has been fairly consistent over the last couple of years in terms of how much video content they are watching on it, but for the first time ever this has started to decline. YouTube is becoming predominantly gaming based, meaning brands who aren’t gaming focused should start to think outside the box in terms of brand communication in this space.
  • AVOD will continue to increase. With on demand viewing becoming more cemented in behaviour, it means both parents and kids are exploring within this space looking for both new (and free!) content. As a natural response the commercial on demand platforms are seeing the benefits, this comes as a benefit for brands looking for alternative avenues for communications.

The future is exciting, but it is up to us to keep on top of these trends and future proof the strategies we need to implement within the business to keep us relevant and engaging amongst this younger audience.

Understanding your audience.

It is our flagship studies that provide us with the insight that enable us to stay ahead of these changing times, if you would like to find out more about how to be involved then please get in touch.

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