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How Virtual Playtime on YouTube is Shaping the Future of Advertising

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In recent years, there has been a significant shift in the way children engage in playtime activities. With the rise of technology and the internet, a new concept - virtual playtime - is replacing television consumption and augmenting in-person, collaborative playtime. Children are now exposed to a wide range of virtual playtime activities on platforms such as YouTube, which offers a variety of creative, educational and entertaining content anytime and anywhere. 

According to recent studies, children today are spending less time watching TV and more time engaging in virtual playtime activities on digital platforms. In fact, a 2020 Pew Internet Research study found that 80% of U.S. parents of children 11 and under say their kids watch YouTube, with 35% of those parents saying their child watches videos on YouTube multiple times per day. Our recent PARK study, released in January 2023, reported that 84% of US kids consume content on YouTube and 25% of kids say that watching YouTube is now just a part of their daily routine. 

Virtual playtime offers children a wide range of activities, but four critical categories marketers need to understand are: 

  • Gaming
  • Unboxing
  • DIY
  • Storytelling 

Here we are going to explore these four popular types of virtual playtime activities on YouTube and how brands can leverage this trend to reach their target audience through contextual and relevant advertising. By understanding the changing landscape of children's playtime activities, marketers can adapt their strategies and effectively engage with their target audience in a meaningful way.

  1. Unboxing

These videos are one of the most popular virtual playtime activities on YouTube. Children love watching other kids unbox toys and gadgets, review toys and they often follow along, imagining that they too have the same toys. Brands can use contextual targeting to showcase their products being unboxed in a fun and creative way, or by sponsoring popular unboxing channels.

Marvel Spiderman Collection Unboxing Review l Spiderman Action Figure

  1. DIY

DIY videos are also gaining popularity in virtual playtime. Children love watching and learning how to make things, and these videos inspire them to create their own projects. These video show how to style dolls, or re-create sets or scenes, even how to build certain items in games like Roblox. These types of videos help spark the imagination and creativity that naturally happens during play. Brands can target their ads by showcasing their products being used in creative DIY projects or by partnering with popular DIY channels.

This would be the perfect opportunity for a brand like LEGO to connect with these videos when children are learning how to build certain items or games. 

DIY @ Bratz C.I.Y. Shoppe | How To Make a Trendy Outfit for Yasmin ft. MyFroggyStuff | Bratz

  1. Storytelling

Storytelling is another popular virtual playtime activity on YouTube. Children love watching animated or live-action stories that are entertaining and educational, but we’re also seeing YouTubers create new stories, using toys or creating stories using game builders, such as Fortnite to add an original narrative, much like a fanfiction. Brands can target their ads by creating branded content featuring their products, or by using a platform like PreciseTV to target popular storytelling creator channels with similar creative.

Barbie's Pre-Show Performance Jitters! | Barbie Clips

Fizzy Helps Animals And Superheros Stuck In Slime | Fun Videos For Kids

  1. Gaming

Finally, Gaming is one of the most popular virtual playtime activities on YouTube. Children love watching gamers play their favorite games and often try to imitate them. Brands can leverage this trend by creating in-game content, sponsoring gaming tournaments or creating branded content featuring popular gamers.

ROBLOX PAW PATROL ! || Roblox Gameplay | Konas2002

So how can brands take advantage of Virtual Playtime and stay contextually relevant?

Rather than whipping up long-form infomercials, strategic brands with a YouTube-first mindset opt into shorter content that can be advertised in between long-form YouTube videos that relate to the ad and lean into these types of virtual playtime in their creative.

Think back to our above example of children watching live streams and screen recordings of each other playing games like Minecraft or Roblox. Videos like these serve as the prime location for Roblox to promote a product add on or new update to the game. 

This strategic placement allows brands to get plenty of CTV  eyeballs and impressions while also getting mobile and desktop views. As children co-watch YouTube videos on a CTV format, it allows for brands to gain 'TV' views alongside the views they might get on mobile devices like laptops and tablets. 

In the end, it's all about contextual video-level targeting. Why? Because having a technical approach to video-level targeting is the best way to execute ad targeting in premium videos that mirror digital performance.

Virtual playtime is here to stay as the new norm for children, and brands need to adapt to this changing landscape. By understanding the different types of virtual playtime activities on YouTube and finding ways to incorporate the right creative and contextual targeting, brands can effectively engage with children and build long-lasting relationships with their customers. 

PreciseTV is the world’s first and leading kidSAFE+ COPPA certified YouTube advertising platform. If you’re interested in learning more about how Precise TV's  contextual video advertisements on YouTube can work for you, please contact us.

Topics: kids advertising, youtube, advertising, Kids, youtube kids