- Mattel is expanding its work with Pocket.watch, granting the family-friendly digital media studio exclusive rights to sell ad inventory across the YouTube channels of brands including Barbie, Hot Wheels and American Girl, per details shared with Marketing Dive.
- The toy giant will leverage Pocket.watch’s ad sales and partnerships unit, Clock.work, to effectively manage campaigns. Pocket.watch is among a handful of third-party companies that have received YouTube’s approval to sell contextually targeted, COPPA-compliant ads on both YouTube and YouTube Kids.
- Pocket.watch’s contextual capabilities were positioned as a way for advertisers to reach viewers under 13 on YouTube’s Made for Kids content without running afoul of regulations. The Mattel deal, which builds on an existing relationship between the two companies, follows a recent controversy around YouTube ads that allegedly tracked children.
Pocket.watch, a media studio focused on kid friendly creator content and intellectual property, has scored a potentially big win in deepening its relationship with Mattel. The new agreement gives the firm exclusive rights to sell ads across the official YouTube channels of over 90 brands, including Barbie, the hot topic of the summer thanks to a film adaptation that has become 2023’s biggest box office hit. Barbie’s YouTube page has over 11 million subscribers, while that of Hot Wheels, another major Mattel brand, has 3.68 million.
For Mattel, working with a single media partner on selling ad inventory could offer greater assurances that its YouTube monetization strategy passes muster. Pocket.watch touts a specialization in child safety, including compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a federal law that seeks to protect children under the age of 13 from data harvesting. Pocket.watch is among a small number of companies that have received third-party rights from YouTube to sell COPPA-compliant contextual advertising on both the main YouTube feed and on YouTube Kids.
“We take great care in developing scaled audiences across Mattel’s leading YouTube channels,” said Jason Horowitz, global head of marketing and media at Mattel, in a statement. “We are excited to further expand on our ongoing partnership with pocket.watch, a company who [sic] is truly a trusted partner in kids’ media space, and who reinforces the extensive value we’re able to bring to advertisers by utilizing YouTube as a content platform.”
Mattel and Pocket.watch have collaborated since 2018 on areas including influencer content and strategic media campaigns. Pocket.watch’s network of kid and family friendly YouTube creators wields a collective 771 million subscribers and have racked up 500 billion lifetime video views.
The news comes as YouTube’s advertising practices around children again face scrutiny. The Google-owned platform has come under fire in the wake of an Adalytics report that suggested YouTube may have tracked and served targeted ads to children in ways that were not COPPA-complaint. Two U.S. senators sent a letter to the FTC asking the agency to look into whether YouTube and its parent company had violated COPPA following the report’s release, The New York Times reported. Other kid-focused online spaces, like Roblox, have also landed in the crosshairs of industry watchdogs that view brand activity on their services as a stealthy way for marketers to sidestep the usual privacy safeguards.
Meanwhile, YouTube is adjusting its ad strategy around TV, one of its fastest-growing screens, including through experiments with fewer but longer commercials. The company cited research that found 79% of viewers prefer video ads grouped in longer breaks versus being peppered throughout a video.