Children Are Hurting Your YouTube Performance: Here’s How to Fix It

Unless you are paying close attention to your YouTube ad campaigns, you might not have noticed this trend: children have taken over. If you are currently running a YouTube campaign and have not reviewed a placements report lately, I have bad news for you: much of your advertising budget is being wasted by showing ads to children. Take a look at the most viewed YouTube channels: Ryan ToysReview, ChuChu TV Nursery Rhymes & Kids Songs, Cocomelon – Nursery Rhymes, Super Simple Songs – Kids Songs, the list goes on. Without proper targeting, your ads are placed before these types of videos. In this post, I will give you 3 ways to maximize your YouTube media spend by reducing the number of child viewers.

Here’s a list of the most viewed videos in YouTube history. The majority are music videos, but there are 7 in the top 100 that are not. 100% of these seven are children’s videos. “Wheels on the Bus” from LittleBabyBum has over 2.16 BILLION views! All the while, the wasted spend in your YouTube campaign goes round and round.wheels on bus

Google Ads does give you the ability to target YouTube users by age, but age targeting is irrelevant when it comes to wasting your media spend on child viewers. We looked at a Youtube campaign that exclusively targeted users age 25-64 (excluding 18-24, 65+, and unknown). Want to guess which video placement had the most ad views in a month? Wheels on the Bus! How could this be? Well, it’s 2018. Parents aren’t turning their TV’s to Sesame Street on PBS. They’re opening YouTube on their smartphones and tablets, which are logged into their own Google accounts, and handing them over to their kids.

Ryans Toy Review Video Screen Shot
(Ryan Toysreview made $22M this year. Don’t be a part of his 2019 earnings.)

3 Steps to Begin Your War on Child Viewers

Add Topic Exclusions

The unfortunate truth is that Google makes it harder than you would think to block children’s videos. Even though YouTube is littered with nursery rhymes and children’s cartoons, these are not explicit Topics available to target or exclude in your YouTube campaign. However, there are a few related Topics you can exclude. I would start with Toys, Babies & Toddlers, Nursery & Playroom, Family-Oriented Games & Activities, Cartoons, TV Family-Oriented Shows, Children’s Clothing, Children’s Literature, Youth Organizations & Resources, Early Childhood Education, and Child Care. Although I believe excluding these topics will do you more good than harm, you may end up excluding a handful of relevant viewers, as well. For example, excluding Cartoons might exclude adults watching clips of South Park or Family Guy.

Add Channel Exclusions

I compiled a list of thousands of YouTube channels aimed at children that I update every time I run a placements report. This list is by no means comprehensive and new channels are created on YouTube every day, so stay diligent with your placement reports. One trick I use to find new negatives is to download a placement report and filter the channel names for keywords like toy, child, baby, and nursery. To quickly add the channels from my list–as well as the ones you find–in AdWords Editor, simply navigate to “YouTube channels, negative” under “Keywords and targeting” and paste using Make Multiple Changes.


Stop Using View Rate as a Metric for Success

Infants aren’t sophisticated enough to skip ads, so why judge the quality of a placement or ad on view rate? In the campaign with strict age targeting mentioned earlier, channels like Cocomelon – Nursery Rhymes and Super Simple Songs – Kids Songs had >80% view rates. Is this because the ad really resonated with 3-year-old Billy? More likely, Billy couldn’t read the “Skip Ad” button.

After adding the Topic and Channel exclusions listed above, you’ll immediately see your impressions and view rate drop. Don’t panic — this is a good thing! You are no longer wasting money advertising to users who won’t be able to buy your product for at least another 20 years! Save your dollars for views that count.

YouTube can be a meaningful part of your digital marketing mix, but only if done effectively. Questions on how to do so? Tweet us at @twooctobers or shoot us a note and mention this post.

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