FTC Prodded Over YouTube’s Advertising Practices
Child safety groups have pressed the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to delve into YouTube’s ad placements on children’s videos. Recent reports suggest YouTube may still be targeting personalized ads at videos crafted for kids, urging these groups to call for an in-depth review.
Investigations Question YouTube’s Ad Claims
Research initiatives from Adalytics and Fairplay hint at possible non-compliance on YouTube’s part. The goal was to verify YouTube’s claim of blocking tailored ads on children’s channels. Surprisingly, both found evidence suggesting Google and YouTube might be enabling ad targeting on children’s content, seemingly bypassing COPPA regulations.
2019 vs. Now: Revisiting YouTube’s COPPA Commitment
YouTube faced a $170 million penalty in 2019, marking the FTC’s heftiest COPPA violation fine since its 1998 introduction. Yet, child advocacy organizations hint at possible recurring breaches, suggesting the potential for even larger penalties.
Adalytics and Fairplay’s Findings
The crux of these allegations centers on behavioral ad placements. Fairplay’s tests revealed that their ads appeared on children’s channels 1,446 times. According to their understanding of COPPA, there should’ve been zero placements. Further, they contend YouTube might be utilizing persistent identifiers for ad targeting, potentially infringing on child privacy norms.
Google’s Defense: A Matter of Misunderstanding?
Google counters these claims, underscoring a purported misinterpretation of their advertising protocols for child-friendly content. They emphasize their compliance with COPPA, attributing Fairplay’s findings to commonplace practices like fraud detection.