Navigating Brand Safety and Transparency in the World of Kids' Advertising

Posted by Victor Z Glenn • Oct 27, 2023 4:00:00 PM

Roblox, a popular platform for children's gaming and entertainment, recently made a significant decision that impacts advertisers. The move entails removing ads and sponsored opportunities for users below the age of 13, who make up a substantial portion of Roblox's daily active users. With this shift, advertisers who once reached audiences of all ages may now experience a decrease in impressions. While this move makes sense in terms of child protection, it underscores the growing challenge of distinguishing advertising from regular content in digital media.

Roblox's immense popularity among children in the United States has spurred an increased presence of brands on the platform. However, the line between unbranded Roblox experiences and "advergames" isn't always clear to young users. Consumer advocates have voiced concerns about children's ability to differentiate between these two types of content.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has stepped in with guidance on how online influencers, game creators, and advertisers should format their ads when targeting children. The key message is to keep advertising distinct from other content. The FTC advises that making the separation explicit is the most effective way to prevent any confusion. Moreover, the "Guardrails" provided by the FTC encourage companies to be transparent in their materials when advertising to children. Companies must consider the child's age, maturity, and development when making this distinction. For example, it may be necessary to include clear statements quite literally like "this is an ad," to ensure children can easily identify advertising versus regular content.

The challenge lies in the fine line between what's considered advertising and non-advertising content, which can sometimes be blurry. Companies must assess whether the content serves as an endorsement of a specific product or brand, includes a call-to-action or sales messaging, and whether it's sponsored. In the quest for brand safety in children's advertising, companies should not only focus on the format but also on the content's suitability and appropriateness for young audiences. Beyond mere form, they need to consider the subject matter, legality, and the emotional impact advertising may have on children.

In an age where digital advertising continues to evolve, especially in platforms frequented by children, ensuring brand safety and transparency is paramount. These measures are not just regulatory requirements; they are essential for building trust with young audiences and their guardians. Advertisers must be conscious of these standards and continue to prioritize responsible advertising practices in the ever-growing world of digital media aimed at children.

Topics: Brand Safety, Transparency, Brand Suitability, gaming, digital advertising, ad placement, mobile gaming, regulation, advergames