One of the problems with kid-centric apps and services is that you need to be really careful about the kind of content you put on there, something that Google has had to learn first hand with YouTube Kids. The idea behind the app was to create a video sharing service that parents could let their kids use without having to worry about graphic content, as well as make it easier for advertisers to target children with their ads. This had led many people to criticize Google, with the most recent of these criticisms relating to the abundance of ads for sugary drinks and snacks.
Ads marketing sugar-laden snacks and drinks have prompted a further round of complaints about Google’s YouTube Kids app. The Center for Digital Democracy and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood filed complaints with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday, accusing Google of unfair and deceptive practices toward children. Google’s YouTube Kids app is supposed to offer kids aged under six a safe space to spend time online, but the two groups said it is rife with ads for snacks and drinks that manufacturers have promised not to market to children. “Far from being a safe place for kids to explore, YouTube Kids is awash with food and beverage marketing that you won’t find on other media platforms for young children,” said CCFC Executive Director Josh Golin. Coca-Cola Co. placed 47 TV ads and 11 longer promotional videos for Coke and Coke Zero on the app, even though the company promised not to market any beverages to under-12s, the groups said. They also identified 31 TV ads and 21 product placements for Oreos, which manufacturer Mondelez International had also promised not to market to children.