The internet is meant to be a place for everyone, but not all content is suitable for all audiences, particularly young people who are increasingly using apps for education and entertainment.
Kidoz, one of Unity’s largest kid-safe mobile network partners, is a COPPA (Children's Online Privacy Protection Act) compliant focused DSP (Demand Side Platform) and solution provider with the mission of making the mobile advertising world safe for minors. The two companies partner to bring Kidoz’ brand advertising campaigns to Unity’s high-quality COPPA-compliant supply.
Connor Esraelian, partner manager for programmatic ops at Unity, sat down with Chief Executive Officer of Kidoz, Jason Williams, to discuss where the fast-paced COPPA mobile advertising and regulatory environment is headed.
They discuss how mobile game publishers and advertisers can prepare for increased scrutiny from platforms and regulators, and how Unity and Kidoz together can facilitate compliant monetization while supporting brand safety and creating a safer digital space for children.
The Kidoz team is committed to understanding the constantly changing regulatory and technical environment to operate a COPPA compliant mobile ad network. Unlike traditional ad networks, Williams shares that Kidoz has built a secure DSP, SSP (Supply Side Platform), and exchange that doesn't use any data targeting, retargeting, or sharing of personally identifiable information (PII) or internet protocol (IP) data in the execution of ad campaigns.
As Kidoz’ network continued to scale and advertiser demand was outpacing the supply on the SDK alone, they saw an opportunity to partner with a global leader in mobile reach and supply.
“Unity was the perfect fit for Kidoz,” says Williams. “With our partnership, we can give our advertisers access to new child-safe supply that protects publishers with privacy tools to ensure ad demand is compliant, while maintaining brand safety and protecting young users above all”.
Williams adds: “In-app advertising is a great place to be as there is incredible reach and user engagement."
In this interview, Williams shares how Kidoz and Unity are helping advertisers and publishers stay compliant in a quickly evolving world of ads.
JW: Kidoz first started as a developer of apps and other software specifically for children under 13. Through that experience, we identified one of the biggest challenges for advertisers and publishers is reach and monetization within young audiences.
For example, we saw regulatory policies from Google and Apple tightening and becoming more stringent over time as they increased their privacy and security.
At this time, there was an opportunity to launch a proprietary ad network using our own custom built SDK and partner with app developers whose target audience is children.
JW: We only use contextual targeting to identify unique segments within the thousands of apps we reach using the Kidoz SDK and through our direct supply partners.
We execute special campaign plans for our advertising partners to whom compliance with COPPA, GDPR, Google and Apple is business and brand critical. This commitment to compliance and performance has made Kidoz the number one kid-safe mobile network.
Kidoz has a large network of sales and agency partners that represent the Kidoz inventory globally and just last year in 2021 we activated deals in 58 different countries.
JW: We work directly or through our sales partners with most of the global brands that advertise to children and families. These brands prioritize compliant child-safe media for their advertising and they know Kidoz can help them reach their audience at scale.
In the toy industry, some of the brands we work with include Lego, Mattel, Hasbro, Playmobil, MGA, and Spinmaster. In entertainment, we work with Disney, Netflix, Universal, Paramount, Warner, Sony, Amazon Prime, Nickelodeon, and many more.
These brands are global leaders and while they are the most active when it comes to child-directed media, they are also deeply committed to advertising compliance and therefore the Kidoz solution and our network partners must be completely compliant in technology and operations.
JW: First and foremost, advertisers and publishers need to ensure they’re working with COPPA and GDPR compliant partners that stay aligned with the latest policies and keep their technology up to date. There’s no room for mistakes when it comes to advertising to child audiences as the penalties can be large for those that are noncompliant.
As children are a significant percentage of all app traffic, there’s a growing trend amongst developers to operate apps with an age gate that segments users into COPPA, which is currently under 13 years of age, and also non-COPPA users that are 13 and above.
With age gating, publishers can operate two separate monetization technologies which allows for the distinct treatment of both user segments. This approach can facilitate compliant monetization of both user segments.
JW: The most important aspect of evolution over the last few years has been the tighter enforcement by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the issuance of penalties for infringements. This has forced game publishers, brands, and the platforms themselves to adopt and enforce COPPA and GDPR compliance.
Many other countries like Brazil, India, and China have enacted similar policies and increased their focus on data privacy for digital minors. It takes time for the industry to understand new legislative changes and how to address them with technology.
Apple and Google treat data privacy and the policies surrounding child-directed advertising with the utmost importance and we’re seeing updated policies and new enforcement as privacy and security are enhanced.
JW: We knew that Unity puts security and privacy first. For Kidoz, having a trusted partner who is well respected and has innovative technology was important for us.
CE: One of our key values at Unity is centered around our developers’ needs and supporting them as they face new challenges that arise and user privacy has been a huge area of focus for us.
JW: Our values are well aligned in that this is a long-term partnership and we’re looking to enable and build the best technology that addresses the requirements of data and privacy compliance and also helps advertisers and publishers achieve their goals.
Unity has incredible reach and great performance with an enormous variety of games and apps. The opportunity to extend Kidoz’ safe demand to unique segments takes servicing advertising partners to a new level and extends our ability to create campaign designs in the future that will strengthen Kidoz as a leader in the COPPA app market.
JW: The Unity network creates new opportunities in contextual targeting because we're able to look through a deep catalog of apps offering a wide variety of user types. Also, Unity’s performance is exceptional which will enable us to add value to any campaign that wants to extend the reach into a large and varied audience.
JW: We’re preparing for the next generation of COPPA adoption by ensuring our solutions are completely scalable and feature rich as the number of apps on our network and users we reach continues to climb.
The unique treatment of young audiences is not new in media, but we have the opportunity right now to shape how the digital world targets children without sacrificing the opportunity for publishers to generate much needed advertising revenues.
We believe that age gates will become commonplace in-app and it's exciting to be a part of this shift in data privacy and for app developers to have confidence in their decision to adopt data compliant policies.
Unity is a critical partner of ours to take the vision of digital privacy to the next phase. We look forward to our partnership together as we continue to protect children and expand the safe monetization of the app ecosystem.
CE: Creating safer brand connections with a young audience is paramount as children spend more time on devices exploring apps made for education to entertainment.
We appreciate our partnership with Kidoz and what the company is doing to protect the safety of children and create a safer digital environment for them to explore, learn, and play. The Unity team is looking forward to providing the technology and tools to continue supporting publishers and advertisers in the COPPA-regulated landscape.