Key Points

  • Both publishers and advertisers who reach young audiences can be subject to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
  • While this law is strict and highly restrictive of advertising activities, it does not prohibit advertising to children altogether.
  • Advertisers can achieve their goals and publishers can increase their revenue when they follow COPPA law but focus on maximizing advertising ROI with proven strategies.

Kids' publishing and advertising may be all cartoon characters and games, but it has a super serious side: the side controlled by COPPA law. For a publisher or advertiser, a COPPA violation means you're in big financial trouble.

In fact, COPPA is so serious that it has deterred many would-be kids' publishers and advertisers from pursuing their business goals within the kids' space. But it doesn't have to be that way. It really shouldn't be that way.

Why? Because there are ways to follow COPPA law with advertising that still maximize revenue. Yes, data collection, segmentation, and targeting are all pillars of success in digital advertising, but they aren't the only ones. Below, we dive into three strategies for complying with COPPA while also prioritizing performance. Read on.

Ever wish there was a platform that solved all of your COPPA compliance woes while protecting your revenue? We've got news for you: Playwire built that platform, and it's solving problems for publishers like you right now. Contact us to learn more.

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COPPA GuideChildren's Online Privacy Protection Act: Guidelines for Advertising According to COPPA Laws

Use Daypart Strategies

For the most part, you can't collect or use children's personal information without proper consent thanks to COPPA. But you can use what you know about kids and their typical schedules to target ads to them with pretty high accuracy.

In marketing, this is a strategy sometimes called "dayparting," and it's an incredibly effective way to advertise while also following COPPA law. Here's how it works for kids' publishers and advertisers:

Mobile in the Morning

Mornings are busy for both parents and children. While the moms and dads are occupied with making breakfast and getting ready for work, the kids are squeezing in a few more minutes with their favorite games before they have to face the school day.

That means you need to heavy up on mobile inventory in the morning. Kids are more likely to spend their mobile hours outside of school, and the morning time is the perfect time to run targeted advertising for children because their parents are occupied and they're likely on their phones.

Target Approved Platforms During School Hours

Historically, reaching school-age children during school hours has been one of the biggest challenges for advertisers trying to run targeted ads for children. Kids are busy learning, and learning hasn't crossed paths with entertainment very often - until recently.

Increasingly, teachers are supplementing their teaching with websites and mobile apps approved by government education officials for use in the classroom. The publishers of those web properties are subject to COPPA and run advertisements.

Keep in mind that for food and beverage advertisers, the Children's Food & Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) does restrict advertising on educational gaming content, so make sure you are able to advertise on this platform before assuming you can.

The key for advertisers, then, is to find the publishers whose content is consistently used in classrooms and purchase their inventory during school hours. There's no better way than that to reach school-age children during the school day.

Round Out the Day with Gaming

Give yourself three guesses about how kids spend their time after school, homework, and dinner. You'll probably nail it on the first guess: They spend at least some of that time gaming.

This is dayparting 101. If you know kids - whose exact behavioral data you can't collect or use for targeting thanks to COPPA - are spending time on mobile games in the evenings after school, you need to run ads on mobile games in the evenings after school. It's elegantly simple and highly effective.

This is where the metaverse is taking the cake in today's environment. Getting metaverse advertising integrations is one of the best ways to get in front of younger audiences.

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COPPA Resource Center

The Complete COPPA Resource Center

Take Advantage of Contextual Targeting

Again, you can't target advertisements to children the same way you can to adults. That means targeting based on behavioral data is largely out the window. But you can target ads based on common sense.

Dayparting is a great example of that, but there's another way: contextual targeting. This is the practice of running ads within contexts in which they are likely to receive engagement, reach the right audience, and be considered non-intrusive - all while following COPPA law.

How do you do that for audiences of children younger than 13? Go back to the typical day in the life of a kid. Ask yourself what websites and apps they are routinely engaging with. Then, ask yourself if you can run advertisements on those websites and apps.

Here's an example: Most kids do their homework in the early evening on school days. It's a widely accepted fact. When they do their homework, they're likely headed to websites that can help. These might be informational websites geared toward kids or simplified resources like online encyclopedias.

You've just found some ideal places to run ads if you're trying to reach school-age children. From there, it's a matter of testing to see which properties perform best.

Work with COPPA-Compliant Partners

As an advertiser, you're still part of the COPPA ecosystem. You have to comply, and you have to make a real effort to work with publishers who comply with COPPA, too.

Here's the thing: Making the effort to work only with verifiably COPPA-compliant publishers is actually going to be a net benefit to your advertising efforts. Why? Because these publishers have invested in their audiences and their ability to monetize their content without facing huge fines. 

They have an audience to protect, and that audience just happens to be your target demographic.

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COPPA Compliance Training for Advertisers

COPPA Compliance Training for Advertisers

Follow COPPA Law to the Letter with Playwire

Whether you're an advertiser or a publisher, COPPA compliance is critical if you reach an audience of U.S.-based children younger than 13. And when we say critical, we mean critical to your financial stability.

If you want to avoid massive fines from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), litigation, and major damage to your reputation, you have to comply with COPPA. But compliance doesn't have to mean that you don't advertise at all.

It just means you have to employ some creative strategies to follow COPPA law with advertising. Hopefully, this article has served as a good starting point for that, but if and when you need more help, reach out to Playwire.

We built the ultimate COPPA-safe ad revenue amplification platform. We made it for publishers like you. It's up to you to take the next step - the step where you stop having to worry about your revenue and COPPA compliance in one fell swoop. Contact us to get started.

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