Unboxing #Kidfluencers


By Harvey Schwartz

As the kids digital advertising market is projected to be worth $1.7 billion by 2021—and an increasingly fragmented media landscape makes it more challenging to reach young, diverse, and mobile consumers—brand-safety, compliance, and multi-channel/format creativity are the ABCs of achieving successful brand partnerships with creators under 18.

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

“Kidfluencer” partnerships can help advertisers successfully navigate a market with tremendous potential: there are 75 million kids under 18-years-old in the US alone. Seventy-five percent of parents say kids influence their purchase, and that they spend 60% more when kids are involved in the said purchase. Furthermore, despite the brand-safety problems that still linger in the platform, 79% of parents said they let their kids under 11 watch YouTube. (There is no wonder then that 56% of kids have a social media account by age 12, and that 62 million kids globally went online for the first time in 2018.) 

I had the recent opportunity to moderate a Social Media Week Los Angeles panel with Gavin Magnus and Heaven King who both embody brand-safety, creativity, passion, and—most of all—extreme professionalism, and happen to be 8 and 12! And they’re hardly the only ones; there is clearly an emerging market of talented kids ready for brand partnerships. 

Credit: SMWLA

Credit: SMWLA

First things first; Safety is paramount when partnering with creators under 18 years-old. Make sure the social accounts are all managed by a parent or guardian, and that the historical content is clean and creatively aligned. I would also suggest spending time getting to know the kids and guardians so that you can determine their professionalism and commitment to partnerships. If they’ve worked on other campaigns, it’s a good idea to get references as you would hire them for a summer job.   

The next pillar is Compliance, and that’s simply following the rules of the game. As we move from the wild west of unfiltered content to more committed creative production with brand investment, there’s a checklist of compliance. These include understanding the child labor laws in each state for work hours and tutoring, ensuring work permits have been granted, and confirm Coogan accounts are set up for payments. In SMWLA conversations with Heaven and Gavin, they both were aware of the rules but rely on their parents to ensure everything is in order. That’s a joint responsibility of parent and production co/agency before any content capture. 

When developing the Creative strategy with kids, it must be rooted in authenticity, passion, and fun.  As Gavin Magnus said at SMWLA, “the magic happens when creators have a natural affinity to the brand and are given the freedom to co-create.” For the Kings, “the best brand partnerships are those where things flow organically and seamlessly—"those where followers don’t realize it’s an add until the very end.” As you can see, kids—just like older influencers—are keenly aware of the fans and connections they’ve built, so not only do they realize what would deliver the best results, but also determined to keep the respect for the quality of content. Bottom line, you have to trust that kids know kids. 

Lastly, as the kids digital market grows up, it’s essential not only to stay close to the updated rules of hiring kids but with COPPA compliance (privacy and targeting), as there are likely updated best practices and regulations that might even force new distribution formats to emerge. So, learn the ABCs of the game and let’s unbox the next superstar!

Sources: Viacom Insights, Census, eMarketer, Common Sense Media, YouGov, and CNN

Harvey Schwartz is Viacom Ad Solutions SVP of Talent. He also wrote ‘Time to Embrace the Global Influencer’