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YouTube may stop serving targeted ads on videos aimed at children

The site is trying to appease regulators following the FTC’s privacy violation charge

Photo (c) grinvalds - Getty Images
YouTube is considering putting an end to its practice of allowing “targeted” ads on videos that are more likely to be viewed by children, Bloomberg reports, citing people “familiar with the discussion.”

The video streaming platform was recently hit with a multimillion dollar fine after the FTC found that it had violated children’s privacy laws by collecting data on children under the age of 13. It’s not clear if YouTube’s changes -- which, at this point, may or may not be implemented -- are a direct result of the settlement, Bloomberg noted. 

Doing away with targeted ads on videos aimed at children could have a significant impact on YouTube’s ad revenues. An industry analyst cited in the report said the platform could lose as much as 10 percent of its overall intake from kids’ videos, which works out to about $50 million annually. 

However, this solution would be much smaller in scale than other proposed ways of complying with regulators. Last year, a coalition of advocacy groups suggested that the FTC require YouTube to migrate all of its kids’ content to its YouTube Kids app. FTC chairman Joseph Simons has suggested the possibility of disabling ads on videos likely to be watched by children. 

Tracking still an issue

Google hasn’t commented on YouTube’s reported decision to stop serving targeted ads on kids’ videos, and it’s still unclear how YouTube would determine which videos would count as kids’ videos. 

Complainants have argued that the move would be hard to enforce. Josh Golin, from the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood, noted that shutting off the ad-targeting feature for select kids’ videos doesn’t mean YouTube will stop tracking their web habits. 

“Is Google still going to be collecting all the data and creating marketing profiles?” he asked Bloomberg. “That wouldn’t be satisfactory either.”

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