HomeTechnologyYouTube Improperly Used Targeted Ads on Children’s Videos, Watchdogs Say

YouTube Improperly Used Targeted Ads on Children’s Videos, Watchdogs Say

Following a research report last week which revealed potential privacy concerns for children watching children’s videos on YouTube, the company has stated that it has limited the collection of viewer data and does not display targeted ads on such videos.

However, children’s group Fairplay is now disputing the company’s privacy statements. They claim to have run a $10 ad campaign exclusively on children’s video channels using advertising tools provided by YouTube’s parent company, Google.

The ads were shown to specific adult consumer segments selected by Fairplay, including motorcycle enthusiasts, high-end computer aficionados, and avid investors. In total, Fairplay’s ads were placed 1,446 times on YouTube children’s video channels.

Adalytics, the company that originally conducted the research, has analyzed similar ad campaigns on children’s channels from other media buyers.

In response, Fairplay, the Center for Digital Democracy, and two other nonprofit groups have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, requesting an investigation into Google and YouTube’s data and advertising practices on videos made for children.

Google denies any violation of federal children’s privacy rules and emphasizes its commitment to not allow ads personalization on made-for-kids content or the targeting of children with ads across any of its products.

Google also states that some YouTube channels feature a mix of videos for both children and adults, suggesting that Fairplay may have received audience segment reports for ads appearing on videos not intended for children.

This is not the first time that Fairplay and the Center for Digital Democracy have urged the F.T.C. to investigate Google and YouTube regarding children’s privacy. In 2018, they filed a complaint along with 21 other groups, alleging improper data collection from children watching children’s videos.

In 2019, the Federal Trade Commission and the State of New York found that Google had unlawfully collected personal information from children viewing children’s channels, resulting in a $170 million settlement.

Fairplay’s executive director, Josh Golin, highlights the limited legal protections for children online and stresses the obligation of platforms like YouTube to refrain from using children’s personal information for tracking or personalized ads.