Research Briefing: YouTube faces child safety protocol concerns, as more marketers use hyper-personalized ad targeting

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Welcome to the Digiday+ Research Briefing, your weekly curation of media and marketing research insights. Digiday+ members have access to the research below. 

In this edition, we share focal points from Digiday’s recently released report on marketers’ expectations for revenue growth in the coming year.

64% of marketers focus on targeting an individual user with a hyper-personalized experience

Last week’s report into ad targeting and child safety protocols on YouTube from Adalytics has rekindled a war of words between the research outfit and the ad industry’s biggest seller of media.

The August 17 report from Adalytics Research asserts that it observed targeted ads served on YouTube channels specifically crafted for younger audiences, where such modeling is prohibited, without parental consent.

The findings, which have been “vehemently contested” by YouTube owner Google, appear to contravene the media owner’s own policies in addition to raising questions over how rigorously it meets the requirements of the FTC’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

As Digiday reported last fall, more marketers lean toward hyper-personalization of ads over contextual advertising, despite privacy concerns. When it comes to tailoring creative and product assortment for consumers, almost two-thirds of marketers (64%) primarily focus on targeting an individual user with a hyper-personalized experience based on individual data versus targeting page context based on tags and other semantic data (36%).

A Google statement shared with Digiday by a company spokesperson regarding the Adalytics report said, “Personalized advertising has never been allowed on YouTube Kids, and in January 2020 we expanded this to anyone watching ‘made for kids’ content on YouTube, regardless of their age.”

For marketers who do strive to personalize product ads and recommendations, the top consumer data points they use to power this data-driven personalization are site behavior (e.g. clicks, time on page and cart abandonment rate), location and browser/search history — all data points that marketers can acquire by tracking customers’ site activities and IP addresses.

Key findings:

  • Seventy-four percent of marketers said they look at site behavior as a main attribute around which to personalize ad creative and other aspects of the user experience, while 69% use location and 52% consider browser and search history — indicating that marketers are primarily focused on how, where and what users are seeking online.
  • Hyper-personalized experiences are highly customizable and can conform dynamically to customer traits and preferences, but they can run the risk of violating privacy regulations. Contextual personalization can be easier to implement, but may not resonate as well with consumers.

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Marketers said revenue grew in the last year, with more growth expected ahead

After a tumultuous 12 months, marketers are getting a clear picture of how they really did during a time of true uncertainty. And, as it turns out, it wasn’t all that bad. This is according to a Digiday+ Research survey of just under 100 agency, brand and retailer professionals.

Digiday’s survey found an overall sense of optimism among agency pros over the last year, despite all of the uncertainty within the industry (and well beyond). Fifty-nine percent of agency pros said their companies’ overall revenue increased somewhat or significantly in the last 12 months.

It’s a similar story for brand and retail marketers, if not even a bit better. Sixty-two percent of brand and retailer pros said their overall revenue increased at least somewhat in the last 12 months.

There is optimism for both groups when it comes to revenue expectations for the coming year too, but to different degrees. More than two-thirds of agency pros (69%) said they expect overall revenue to increase the most in the next 12 months. Exactly half of brand and retailer pros said the same.

Key findings:

  • Agencies, brands and retailers invested in staffing over the last year, but most kept their investments on the lower end. Thirty-eight percent of agency pros told Digiday that their companies invested a medium amount in overall staffing in the last 12 months, while 39% of brand and retailer pros said the same.
  • Forty-four percent of agencies said they expect their companies to invest the most in overall staffing in the next 12 months, but brands and retailers are significantly less optimistic. Twenty-seven percent of brand and retailer pros said they expect their companies to invest the most in staffing in the next 12 months.

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