Kids Download the Darndest Things – Your First Steps at Mobile Marketing to Kids

Lior Eldan Lior Eldan | 7.12.14

This post was originally published on Fourth Source. 


kid playing with tablet



One interesting way of estimating people’s age is asking them what they think about the usage of smartphones and tablets among two year olds.


If the person is too young, he will dread the idea of talking about kids. If the person is too old, he will dread discussing tablets. If he is somewhere in the middle – it’s the fact that these little ones use tablets more than teenagers that will upset him.


Either way, you’re in for a treat.


What is it, exactly, about children’s familiarity with the mobile world that we feel so uncomfortable with?


The answer has to do with the simple fact that marketers tend to follow users. The mobile field is becoming less apologetic about viewing kids as a legitimate market share. Obviously, this approach is met with harsher limitations for approving apps aimed at such a sensitive group. There are specific federal guidelines for protecting children’s privacy (COPPA) and when it comes to the kids’ apps category, Apple is known to be particularly strict.


In addition to the ethical aspect and the bureaucracy surrounding it, marketing to kids should not get too aggressive, or you might risk financial penalties. The US Federal Trade Commission has announced a settlement with Google, according to which the company will reimburse parents to young children for in app purchases made by their kids (in some cases to the extent of getting the entire family into debt). Similarly, it was just last year when Apple settled a class action lawsuit filed for that reason. If you think it’s like taking candy from a baby – think again, because you might have to give the candy back.


While there is, understandably, an inherent criticism of marketing to the relatively vulnerable younger crowd, we cannot ignore this market share altogether. And so, we chose instead to focus on a few of the fascinating characteristics of mobile marketing to kids.


Whose tablet is it, anyway?


When personalization is the name of the game, mobile is king. We know where the user is headed, what he prefers and some details that might scare you just a little. The personal device enables us to reach out to specific users, based on their preferences. That is why the notion of multiple users is such an earthquake for marketers.


Despite the rise in mobile devices purchasing for youngsters, kids are still likely to use their parents’ devices to watch videos, play games and smear whatever it is they just ate all over it.  This means that even though the user’s Facebook profile indicates that he is in his mid-thirties, the person who just spent two hours surfing trains cannot actually read your notifications.


You should carefully consider your options and think whether it pays to track such users for more accurate results, or choose your marketing platforms accordingly.





Daddy, buy me this app!


Ok, so we just gave you an elaborate explanation on how targeting the parent is missing the point. Now it’s time to claim the exact opposite. Because if you think for a second that you can market to kids without speaking to the parents – you are sadly mistaken. Your message should convince the kid that the app is awesome and fun, and at the same time assure the parent that it is educational.


Not easy, Huh? Well, kids never are.


At the end of the day, if you manage to reach the right balance, and get Mom to believe that this zombies game is the first step on her child’s road to his own gaming startup – you’ve made it.


Fun (and controversial) fact: Parents aren’t just looking for educational apps. They want apps to keep their kids, well, busy. In fact, 60% admit to using gadgets as a distraction. So the peace of mind you wish to give could be just a few priceless minutes of peace and quiet.


The kids wanted to go


We want to drive you a bit crazy here, so allow me to contradict myself just one more time.


Remember the solid explanation about marketing to parents as a way of selling to kids? Turns out that selling to parents starts with marketing to kids. Kids influence and lead the family’s purchasing decisions. The choices of food, vacations and brands are all deeply influenced by what the little adorable dictators want.


Your path to the parents’ wallet begins with the child’s mind. You can invest in a clever, sophisticated message that will crash desperately at the sight of a four year old having a tantrum. Try adding interesting visuals and familiar brands to your written message, in order to catch the little one’s attention. This is particularly true when it comes to vacations, since finding the right activity for kids seems to be at the center of the decision making process. Take into account the fact that their attention span is relatively short, so the bottom line needs to be the only line.


Marketing to kids is quite the fascinating challenge. Targeting the right audience and providing it with the right messages is an expertise we are proud to have acquired. But even if the main thing you feel right now is the need to explore – that’s great. I mean, just look at Dora the Explorer – she seems to handle the challenge of marketing to kids pretty well.


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