Posted by Julia Casale-Amorim
Recently, I was asked to participate on a panel at the 2009 Children, Youth & Media Conference here in Toronto, put on by ACT (Alliance for Children and Television). While I was delighted to have been invited, I was left scratching my head on what could possibly be contributed to the session in question: Making Money with Multi-platform Kids Content – from an ad network’s perspective.
We have been approached countless times by the producers of some first-rate children’s content in search of advice on how to monetize their site portfolios online. Could they be part of our network? They certainly have the eyeballs. They have the quality content. They even have the offline brand power! So, why couldn’t we take them on as publishers?
They have the whole package it would seem, until you account for the fact that as producer’s of children’s content, they are attracting a very specific demographic: children, and therein lies the challenge. As an ad network, the vast majority of our advertising clients come to us looking to place their media in front of the eyeballs of buyers and purchase decision makers. One of the magnetic draws of online media, is its ability to measure, virtually in real time, how a campaign is converting views or clicks into actions – typically purchases.
In oversimplified terms, networks operate in an aggregate capacity. That means any publisher coming on as part of the network in a standard “blind” representation agreement, is sold as part of a larger group of sites. Networks are all about scale and reach to the general consumer population. We service the majority needs of the marketplace. We appeal to much the same clientele as broadcast TV and we need to offer content and audiences that satisfy their requirements.
The most coveted and in-demand demographic is adults 30+ – a far cry from the audiences represented by most children’s content.
What About Moms? Aren’t They the Holy Grail of Online Adverting?
So, getting back to the panel, I put my thinking cap on to see if there was any advice I could possibly offer to an audience of children’s content producers. A mom myself, I frequently watch children’s TV programming with my daughter and even go online with her from time to time to explore the interactive world of Sesame Street (among other children’s destinations).
The younger the child-targeted audience, the more likely that child is to be visiting your website with his or her parent (my daughter isn’t even two years old yet, but she absolutely loves going online with us – and certainly couldn’t do it on her own).
Moms are a lucrative segment that can really light up the eyes of advertisers. A campaign (say for diapers, children’s toys or a grocery item) targeted to moms on a site that promotes child-parent engagement could be very successful from a branding perspective. If however, a campaign’s objectives or success metrics are centered around brand engagement or “direct response”, this type of content – although providing direct access to the household decision maker, isn’t likely to achieve the desired results since moms aren’t going to leave an activity they are engaging in with their child to check out an ad or promotion or to download a coupon.
The Takeaway for Producer’s of Online Children’s Content
So is it possible to earn ad revenue online with children’s content? Yes! But so long as you approach your site’s development with an eye to how advertisers evaluate media placements up front and campaign performance after the fact.
The Success Determinant: Children’s content that requires parental engagement/participation (i.e. targeted to the toddlers – old enough to play with mom online, but not old enough to do it alone).
Ultimately, for an ad network to work with you there needs to be hefty advertiser demand for what you’re selling (your audience) and the environment and user behaviour on your site needs to be conducive to achieving the advertiser’s campaign objectives. It all comes down to:
- The target audience
- The campaign’s objectives (i.e. branding, or direct response)
If you can develop a website and audience following the tics the two requirements listed above and you can find an ad network partner that works with a large roster of clients who are looking specifically for venues through which to brand themselves to moms, then you stand a very real (and potentially lucrative) shot at making money with your online children’s content.