2022 Marcom Trends - Magazine - Page 14
Safety First: Protecting Children
in a Rapidly Evolving Landscape
Child influencers are very popular with marketers
these days. What steps should marketers be taking
when they engage child influencers to ensure they are
not running afoul of the CARU Guidelines?
Obviously advertising has to be truthful and non-deceptive.
In particular, we need to ensure that when children are
watching influencer content, they understand that it is
advertising. We are dealing with that in our guidelines
as well. It also needs to be clear that these influencers
should not engage in other practices that are a concern
in advertising to children, such as creating unrealistic
Allison Fitzpatrick, Partner, firstname.lastname@example.org
Paavana L. Kumar, Associate, email@example.com
Alexa Meera Singh, Associate, firstname.lastname@example.org
The children’s advertising and privacy landscape is evolving quickly — and regulators and
self-regulators are keeping up.
Davis+Gilbert Advertising partner Allison Fitzpatrick (AF) sat
down for a conversation with Dona Fraser (DF), Senior Vice
President, Privacy Initiatives at BBB National Programs, and FTC
veteran and current BBB National Programs Children’s Advertising
Review Unit Vice President Mamie Kresses (MK) to explore the
major developments in this area, from child influencers to global
privacy initiatives, and provide insights and practical tips for ensuring
child-directed websites, apps, connected toys and influencer
marketing campaigns stay in compliance with the law.
The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU)
updated its self-regulatory guidelines for advertising
to children (CARU Guidelines). What changes were
made to the CARU Guidelines?
We looked to modernize the guidelines. It has been a long
time since they were updated and advertising to children
has changed dramatically, especially with online content and
long-form influencer advertising videos. We are also living
in an era where we have all been made more aware of the
inequities in our society, and we hope to use the guidelines
to inspire content that is welcoming to children of all
backgrounds and abilities and makes them feel good about
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Are there certain areas of children’s advertising and
privacy that CARU will be looking at more closely
during the upcoming months?
Advertising and privacy are very linked these days, given the
amount of data collection and data knowledge. So we will go
where advertising goes and try to ensure we are setting a
model for best practices in modern times.
Years ago, everything was very siloed — you could deal
with privacy separately from advertising. But now there is
this convergence; ad practices are getting companies into
trouble with their data collection practices. What we are
trying to do is to constantly keep our finger on the pulse of
what companies want to do versus what they can do within
the frameworks, remaining cognizant of their challenges,
especially for those global companies who may be working
on global campaigns and dealing with the different privacy
regimes and models around the world that are defining what
a child is very differently than the way we define a child in
the United States.
Part of the conversation also needs to be about the actual
influencers understanding the landscape. There needs to be
some real uptick on the education to influencers themselves
and their responsibilities. We cannot put this all on the
marketers. They can explain what their guidelines are and
what they want their influencers to do or not do, but I also
think that there needs to be some real responsibilities on the
influencers themselves. That will make them better partners
for the marketers.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is currently
reviewing the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act
(COPPA) Rule to see whether additional changes are
needed to address the different ways that children
under 13 years of age access the Internet, including
the increased use of mobile devices and social
networking. What changes do you expect the FTC to
make to COPPA as part of its review?
We will likely see an expansion of the definition of personally
identifiable information to possibly include biometric data. I
would be surprised if there is not some additional scrutiny of
safe harbors. I think that the issue of data security is going
to be enhanced and the internal operations exceptions may
also be reviewed, possibly expanded, or at least there will
be a conversation about that because what was defined as
internal operations 10 or 20 years ago has evolved.
Over the past two years, the FTC has brought high
profile actions against both TikTok and YouTube for
violations of COPPA. What are some of the lessons
that operators can learn from these FTC actions?
I think there is a lot to be learned there. First, you cannot
have it both ways. You cannot be a channel directed to
children and then try to skip COPPA and not get parental
consent and then avail yourself of behavioral advertising
through a third party. Second, obviously it is a huge wake up
call to platforms and other third parties that provide a whole
host of services to individual child-directed marketers and
advertisers and content providers.
What do you see as the most significant challenge
facing companies that want to direct their products
and services to children?
I think the challenge is to be exciting and innovative when
you are competing with a whole host of exciting and
innovative content geared to the public as a whole. So you
really need to be focused on what is appropriate for children
and how to capture their interest at the same time. And, of
course, if there are issues of data security or data collection,
then obviously you are going to fall into the COPPA basket
and you need to be very cognizant of that.
What we do not often talk about is the cost of doing business
in this space. Whether you are on the side of a content
creator or the side of data collection, there is a cost of doing
business in the space that I think is higher than other spaces.
And when I say cost of doing business, I mean everything
from hiring outside counsel, to having your engineers to
downstream everything from the outset. Being a good actor
in this space is not terribly difficult because there are so
many good actors in the space. But again, some of that does
come at a cost.
If you could provide one piece of advice to companies
that market their products and services to children,
what would it be?
To look at what you are trying to accomplish through the
eyes of a child: keep it simple and pure. Step back and ask
yourself if you are marketing something that is great for kids,
or something more focused on bells and whistles.
Put yourself in the seat of a child but also put yourself in the
seat of the parent. The overarching advice that I would give
is: What do you want your brand to be known for? How do
you want to build brand trust and longevity? If you do that
from the outset, parents and kids recognize that this brand is
fun. It is engaging and parents do not feel like it is intrusive. I
think that’s probably the best advice.
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