Child-safe Web browser KidZui has gone from subscription-only to entirely advertiser supported since launching in 2008, and advertisers like Disney, EA, and small kids game developer Herotainment are getting on board. The company's platform helps parents monitor their children's activity in the shielded KidZui environment, and notifies them via e-mail when their youngsters show interest in a sponsor's offering, such as a PG-rated movie.
"Since we launched we have sent e-mails to parents [that act as a] personalized digest of what their kids are interested in," said KidZui CEO Cliff Boro. Today, after shifting to its free "K2" version of the browser, the e-mails tell parents and guardians about the sites, photos, videos and other content their wee-ones viewed, and how much time they spent with that content. The weekly notifications help parents monitor "which interests are ascending and which interests kids have that are on the wane," said Boro. Advertisers can give those notifications an added boost by including an e-mail ad in their campaigns.
The kid-friendly browser has been downloaded over 1 million times since March 2008, and "nearly 400,000" users are active on the service each month, according to Boro.
Paramount ran a KidZui campaign to push the new "Justin Bieber: Never Say Never" biopic. That involved featuring a movie trailer prominently on the KidZui homepage, and including an ad in the parental notification e-mails when kids "liked" the video. The ad clicked through to ticket purchase and showtime information.
Disney is currently running its third campaign with the service, this time for its "Mars Needs Moms" movie, opening March 11. The company also ran a campaign for recent fairy-tale flick "Tangled."
Warner Brothers, Universal and DreamWorks have also been clients, as have game makers EA and Leapfrog and toy seller Toys "R" Us. Advertorial content such as film trailers are labeled "sponsored" on KidZui.
Big brand advertisers are not alone, though. Herotainment, producer of kid-friendly superhero themed virtual world and game "Herotopia," have focused their ad efforts on KidZui since last year. "The majority of what we've spent has been with KidZui," said Wade Teman, co-founder of the company. "The demo that KidZui targets is exactly the demo that we look to target."
After testing display ad creative featuring various superhero characters, the game maker has optimized its ads on KidZui over time - even going so far as to adjust the content of the game itself based on responses to its ads. Herotainment targets different ads to boys and girls, and varies them based on ages or age groups.
It was an introduction to DreamWorks that influenced KidZui to shun its original subscription-based revenue model, which, according to Boro, had been "criticized in the business community." Originally, the company charged just under $10 per month to access the protective browser. Before going totally free, the firm made some content free and offered a premium up-sell featuring parental controls and a homework helper.
DreamWorks ran a campaign for its 2009 film "Monsters vs Aliens" - the first sponsorship ever on KidZui. That prompted the company to decide it could win sponsorships from film studios and other advertisers looking to get in front of young eyes. To assist in bringing in advertisers, the firm recently hired its Chief Revenue Officer Bryan Mullen, who has held sales roles at Cartoon Network, Disney Kids and Nickelodeon.
"We brought in Bryan to really help evangelize and work with any leading family friendly brand," said Boro.
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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.
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