Kidoodle.TV co-founder Neil Gruninger says advertisers and content producers who want to reach children under the age of 13 are increasingly turning to the Calgary-based startup as an alternative to YouTube’s global platform.
“We get content producers, and YouTubers, knocking on our door every day now because of the success we’ve had,” Gruninger says. “They know the types of revenue they can make from Kidoodle.TV.”
He says the Kidoodle.TV media platform — which switched last year from a completely ad-free model to a hybrid ad-subscription business — has attracted content producers who are worried about changes at Google’s YouTube unit.
Google recently agreed to pay US$170 million to settle allegations that YouTube violated the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting personal data on children without their parents’ consent.
YouTube’s creative partners were informed in September, in accordance with the settlement, that they have only a few months to ensure they’re not using behavioural data to target child audiences on its platform.
“If applicable, this may result in a decrease in revenue from some creators,” YouTube said in a Sept. 4 statement.
Gruninger says Kidoodle.TV has never collected the kind of behavioural data that got Google and YouTube in trouble with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and New York’s attorney general.
Moreover, Gruninger says Kidoodle.TV pays its content producers on the basis of user downloads, with flat rates per thousand views regardless of advertising — so it’s possible for them to earn more than they would with YouTube.
To help generate more ad revenue, Kidoodle.TV has also enlisted one of Canada’s biggest media companies — Corus Entertainment, owner of the Treehouse and YTV specialty channels — as its Canadian advertising representative.
“We feel we’re going to be able to do a lot more here in Canada (with Corus) compared to what we would do on our own,” Gruninger says.
It’s not that there’s a shortage of competition facing Kidoodle.TV, either for advertisers or viewers.
DHX Media, for instance, has seen so much growth at its advertising-supported video-on-demand unit that the company will be renamed WildBrain and its AVOD service will be renamed WildBrain Spark.
The Halifax-based company — which is a global distributor and content producer with several Canadian specialty TV channels including Family and Family Jr. — said WildBrain Spark had nearly 33 billion views worldwide last year.
Regarding YouTube’s recent decision to ban “interest based” children’s advertising — which is tailored to individual users, DHX president Josh Serba told analysts that WildBrain uses “contextual” advertising.”
“These are ads which rely on audience measurement and demographics. And to put in plain terms, it’s how advertising has always worked on television,” Serba said.
“We know that we have a great collection of quality content that attracts massive audiences, and we believe that advertising will continue to be an important part of the monetization.”
At Kidoodle.TV, which sources its content from third-party creators including animated content from Corus’s Nelvana unit, Gruninger acknowledges it faces a few other child-oriented video platforms with advertising — including Google’s own YouTube Kids and the independent Toon Goggle — but that doesn’t diminish his optimism.
“We have contextualized programming that is completely COPPA-compliant,” Gruninger says. “That’s been a huge win for us and I think that’s why a lot of advertisers are coming our way, and coming back for more.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2019.
Companies in this story: (TSX:CJR.B, TSX:DHX)
David Paddon, The Canadian Press