Kids are growing up in a connected world where their digital identity comes first. With under 16s making up almost 40% of all online users, they are having profound and long-lasting changes on how the internet is perceived and used.
This has resulted in gaming platforms like Fortnite, Roblox, and Minecraft transforming into metaverses for kids to play, hang out, consume content, learn new skills, and interact with brands. It’s now our duty as adults to ensure that this new world gets built out safely and that it’s future-proofed with effective rules and regulations to protect this emerging generation.
With this in mind, Anzu, the world’s most advanced in-game advertising platform, hosted a live discussion between its Co-Founder and CEO, Itamar Benedy, Dylan Collins, Co-Founder and CEO of SuperAwesome, the Epic Games-owned kidtech company, and Eric Lau, VP Strategic Partnerships at advertising giant WPP.
The three experts explored how generation metaverse is transforming the digital status quo; how their behavior will change the way advertisers interact with consumers; what kidtech is in place and needs to be built to keep children’s online experiences safe; and what part brands should play in establishing the new paradigms.
Lau kicked off by outlining how many advertisers, including WPP, are quickly realizing that kids and their families are who they are talking to with their campaigns, whether they were designed for them or not. “The pandemic has helped to establish kids as full digital citizens with many turning online to learn, play, socialize, create and consume content during prolonged lockdown periods.” He went on to say that these youngsters are driving an estimated $61bn in household spending and asked what is in place to protect them and how can advertisers ensure the campaigns they are pushing out are appropriate and comply with kidtech standards?
Collins responded by saying that “the world has woken up over the past 18 months to the power and influence of younger audiences everywhere. More parents are now looking to their kids with a lot more respect in terms of their digital knowledge and awareness, and they have become much more of a factor inside the home when it comes to purchasing decisions for so many different items from electronics all the way up to auto.”
“Brands and agencies have come to realize that they have no choice but to connect with this generation. The challenge for everyone is figuring out how to do so in a way that is authentic, respectful, and compliant with all of the specific digital children’s laws that we have around the world. We need to think about how we design for young audiences and how we include them in everything that we are building over the coming years”.
Benedy followed up by saying that “kidtech is in a much stronger place than adtech” and that “the adtech industry could learn a lot from kidtech”. He believes a lot of advertisers do not advertise to kids because there is hardly any personal information on them.
He outlined that as the rest of the population has become warier about how their data is being used, companies like Google and Apple have been forced to change how they operate to comply with this new way of thinking. He believes that Apple’s IDFA is only the start. We are moving to a world where all the personal identifiers and unique information advertisers hold on us will eventually be taken away. Making room for a place where everyone is protected and has complete control over how and who their data is shared with, much like how it currently works for under 18s.
Eric moved the conversation on by highlighting the recent Ariana Grande concert experience in Fortnite, following on from the success that Travis Scott saw last year. He outlined that both these artists have explicit lyrics within their songs and adult themes and asked how these platforms can ensure kids are protected and shielded from content that isn’t suitable for them. “It’s no longer as simple as labeling a game as over 12 or 16, these metaverses are growing, and while some parts may be child friendly, there is bound to be a lot of content that just isn’t suitable for young kids.”
Collins agreed, saying that platforms that are working towards becoming metaverses need to prioritize moderation and safety. “One of the most important metrics for anyone running metaverse platforms or operating there is what your level of toxicity and your level of counter toxicity is. We need to look back and think about what we can learn from the past ten years of the internet and social media and apply it to this area”.
“The second part of this is that we need to look at variable content rating systems, and part of the challenge here is that the metaverse has emerged from gaming platforms, which have emerged from fairly linear content rating paradigms. We have interesting challenges ahead of us regarding how we deal with multi-rated experiences housed within a single platform. Currently, the platforms are moderating the content, but as they get bigger, more focus will need to be put on how these experiences get rated and gated.”
“This is a challenge that everyone needs to have a conversation on and it also ties into parental controls and permissions and how we make it easier for parents to administer and control access to these different experiences over time. The important thing is that we are having these conversations, and the major tech companies need to continue to retain a dialogue around this to make forward progress over the next few years as these spaces continue to grow.”
To hear more on this topic, you can check out the discussion in full by heading here.