VlogBox Get-Together Series: Recap #2

Events

Recently we had another informative webinar of the Get-Together series. It was dedicated to the ins and outs of the creation, distribution, and promotion of video content for kids. This time the speakers were:

Anna McMichael

Director of Strategic Partnerships at VlogBox

Ian Phillips

Founder of Toy Trains 4u, a child-focused YouTube channel, and owner of the “Funlings” toy brand

Dan Sarto

Co-founder, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief at Animation World Network (AWN), one of the top animation magazines since 1996

Victoria Bolotova

Head of Media International Sales at Digital Television Russia (DTR)

The participants touched upon the following topics that revealed lots of valuable insights and gave a better understanding of what good kids’ content should look like and how it can be promoted both offline and in the digital environment including the CTV ecosystem.

What is the most popular content right now in the kids’ vertical? 

Vloggers have become increasingly popular in the last couple of years. With amazing cartoons from big players and animation studios, we’ve also noticed that the market has shifted towards vloggers’ videos, educational videos, and sometimes a combination of both. 

Ian: “On YouTube, we’ve certainly seen a lot of big vlogging channels featuring children, family life, and this is what they do – they record family life, and now they are trying to move to the educational side.”

Victoria: “Kids love to watch animation on any screen and at any time. We cannot ignore the educational component of cartoons. That is one of the best forms of explaining how the world works and teaching kids to be responsible.”

What is the specific knowledge that you need to succeed within the YouTube ecosystem?

Ian Phillips started ToyTrains4U 15 years ago. Since that time a couple of changes were introduced by YouTube concerning kids’ video content (COPPA) that had a significant impact on the channel and the privileges it used to have. Ian shared his experience in that matter.

Ian: “A few months ago YouTube issued some new best practices on kids and family content. Effectively all the kids’ videos on YouTube will be classified as of high quality or low quality. If they are of high quality, they will be promoted, if of low quality, they will be suppressed. That’s why a lot of channels are changing their content to educational – to comply with what YouTube is looking for. Find a niche you are sure you can generate quality content in to engage the audience, and the system will start recommending you to a wider audience and your views will start growing. Especially concentrate on the first 30 seconds and the algorithm will reward you.”

How do top animation studios promote branded content?

We’ve asked Dan Sarto how top animation studios use participation in offline events to their advantage in terms of content promotion as well as establishing new partnerships. The main point is that studios should get ready for every show beforehand to present their idea in the best way possible and find co-production partners.

Dan: “The hard work is done a few weeks leading up to the show when you’re contacting people and setting up meetings, increasing your opportunities to tell your story, and looking for partners. If you focus on that, that will increase your possibilities for success in the work that you’re trying to do. Everyone is looking for the next gem, and that gem could come from literally any creator of the world.”

Anna added: “If you really get prepared for those types of events, you can take a lot out of them. Everyone trying to make a big step and reach results on the partnership side has to be at those events and work before, during, and after.”

What values are you trying to cover in kids’ content?

The main point raised here is that content creators should target not only kids but their parents as well. If parents approve of a video, their child will get access to it. In this matter, it is crucially important to stick to the main values that engage kids to learn, behave well, and explore the world in a positive light.

Ian: “Every day we’re turning ourselves back to being a kid and thinking how would a child make this story. If you can make engaging content that kids sit watching, you are probably pleasing the parents at the same time.”

Victoria: “In order to understand your audience you have to meet their needs and be up-to-date with trends. The main idea is not to create just a standalone TV show but a brand that would be a part of an audience member’s life on TV either online or offline and build a whole ecosystem of products and services around that brand.”

Marketing strategy: what would you advise to promote your brand?

The speakers have shared their thoughts on brand promotion and shared some insights on how to sell your idea effectively and how to keep your audience engaged.

Dan: “There’s a tendency to overproduce and underdeliver with regards to marketing materials and what you actually have to show when you sit down with someone for a meeting. It’s better to have a small amount of really nicely done materials than a whole bunch of stuff that you won’t be able to go through. Sometimes less is more. Focus on what’s going to sell you and sell your idea.”

Victoria: “Engage the audience as much as you can with communication, competitions, and giveaways. You can also create branded zones and placements of cartoon characters in the areas where there are many children.” 

Ian: “If people watch you, YouTube will recommend you to others. It’s an in-built marketing system. Try to create something that is yours, something no one is going to challenge.”

Cross-promotion: is it important to promote your content on various platforms?

Some YouTube channel owners don’t go beyond this platform and don’t promote their content via other channels. However, it is really important to have a presence on other platforms to increase awareness and expand your audience.

Dan: “You need to send out material to the press. You need to have a constant push of press materials and press releases. They need to be simple and produced in a way that makes it easy for media outlets to give you coverage. Make something that is easy to pick up and publish with visuals.” 

Tips and best practices

The speakers have also shared some useful tips and their best practices of kids’ content creation, distribution, and promotion. 

Victoria: “The content you create should appeal to different audiences and contain a set of characteristics: colorful animation, storylines, music, educational elements, and a family focus.”

Dan: “One of the things I would suggest with regard to consumer-type branding is for IP holders to try to find stakeholders, bloggers, vloggers, other folks who talk about and promote shows and properties like yours.”

Ian: “If you’ve got a child, just see what they watch, watch them watching and you can learn from that. Another tip: you can use background music which is free on the YouTube library, but if you want to put this video on any other platform you might have issues, so buy the license to avoid mistakes in the future.” 

Questions from audience

There were a couple of questions from the audience regarding the necessity of exploring the CTV ecosystem and the safety of kids’ content in the CTV environment. 

Is it necessary to leave YouTube for CTV?

Anna: “Definitely not. We look at CTV as a new ecosystem that has a huge potential. There is no point leaving YouTube but there is a point in expanding and exploring a different ecosystem.”

Why is CTV a safe environment for kids?

Anna: Whether YouTube or CTV, the content has to be COPPA-compliant in order to be considered safe. CTV is a big screen and you actually can monitor what kids watch. On CTV you can control what type of content they are consuming too.”

We hope you enjoyed our webinar and found its insights helpful! Stay tuned for new episodes of our Get-Together series to get more tips and learn the professionals’ best practices. In case you’d like to rewatch the full version, you can access it here.

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