YouTube as we know it has officially changed forever. After a monumental $170 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission over the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (or COPPA), YouTube will now enforce new regulations on creators that may affect monetization and content discoverability.

As a result of the ruling, YouTube officially introduced an important new audience setting this week, requiring all creators to mark their content as “made for kids” or “not made for kids” in YouTube Studio.

It’s vital to note that this change affects all creators, not just those who create videos aimed at younger audiences. Here’s everything you need to know about YouTube’s new updates and what creators can do to make sure they’re complying with COPPA.

What led to the change?

In September, the settlement between the Federal Trade Commission and Google was reached after the FTC alleged that YouTube was tracking the viewing behavior of young audiences in order to serve them targeted ads, thereby violating child privacy laws.

The Children’s Online Privacy and Protection act, or “COPPA”, prevents entities from collecting personal information from children under 13 without the consent of a parent or guardian. YouTube’s new updates serve to help creators comply with COPPA moving forward.

Why is this such a big deal?

Essentially, what this ruling means is that YouTube can no longer utilize its powerful ad targeting technology on any content that is intended for audiences under 13. If a video is marked as “made for kids”, all personalized ads will be turned off and replaced with “contextualized” advertising related to the content of the video itself. This has the potential to drastically change, and even reduce, ad revenue generated by “made for kids” content.

It all comes down to data collection. In theory, YouTube has always been required to comply with COPPA, but this recent settlement marks a new era of stricter enforcement. Not only will personalized ads be shut off, but the data collected on viewers of made for kids content will also be drastically reduced, if not entirely eliminated.

A statement from YouTube reads, “Starting in January: we will limit the data we collect on made for kids content to comply with the law. This means we will disable personalized ads on this content (which affects revenue for creators making content for kids), as well as certain features like comments, notifications and others.”

Updating your audience settings (& a potential $42K fine if you don’t)

It’s vital to note that regardless of your location or whether your content is directed at young audiences if you have any content at all posted on YouTube then you must designate that content as “made for kids” or “not made for kids” in order to comply with the FTC and COPPA.

There are two ways creators can update their audience setting: they can mark their entire channel as “made for kids”, or they can set their audience at the individual video level. You can learn exactly how to set your audience at the channel and video level by watching YouTube’s official new instructional video.

YouTube is also implementing some “machine learning” measures to flag content that is “made for kids”, but they’re urging creators not to rely on that technology alone. If YouTube deems content to be incorrectly labeled, they may change your audience settings automatically, or block your content altogether.

Additionally, if you neglect to update your audience setting, or you label your content incorrectly, you could face a fine from the FTC. According to COPPA, the FTC is entitled to fine creators up to $42K per mislabeled video. If all your videos are made for kids, that could constitute a huge monetary loss. All the more reason to air on the side of caution, label videos appropriately, and seek legal advice, if necessary.

What constitutes “made for kids” content?

The question on most creators’ minds right now is, “how can I be sure if my content is “made for kids” or not?” Google has released helpful new guidelines that list in detail how to determine if content should be marked as targeted to younger audiences.

At the most basic level, “made for kids” means content is child-directed. According to Google, a video is “child-directed” if:

  • Children under 13 are the primary, intended audience
  • Children are not the primary audience, but the video is still directed to children.

Again, we advise reading more about the official guidelines here. It’s vital that creators take time to learn about the new labels and determine how to appropriately label their content.

What does this mean for the future of Tubers?

Honestly? We’re not sure yet. This is early days of what will be a massive change in the overall workings of one of the biggest social media platforms in existence. What we do know for sure is that we’re going to see a major shift in data collection practices when it comes to content aimed at younger audiences.

As we move into 2020, Tagger is dedicated to bringing you up-to-the-minute news about any developments, advice, best practices, and updates regarding these changes. Make sure you’re subscribed to our email list to receive our weekly round-up of influencer marketing industry news.