U.K.-based startup SuperAwesome is announcing version two of its AwesomeAds, an advertising platform that can safely target kids without running afoul of privacy regulations, the company says.
That could be an important step, as the children’s market is a big opportunity, but one that is rife with risks when it comes to Internet-connected platforms that SuperAwesome is targeting. And it could help a lot of kid-tech startups that are trying to get off the ground.
The London company has unveiled its beta program for an ad server that it says is compliant with the U.S. law protecting kids, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). It is also compliant with upcoming European legislation. The ad server can be used by developers and publishers of kids apps to run safe ads from SuperAwesome’s kid brand partners. It curates ads so that they’re kid-appropriate, and they’re shown to kids using kid-focused apps. This helps brands reach their targets, and it generates ad revenue for the developers.
“Legislation like COPPA and others are an important part of the kids industry. However, online advertising technology simply wasn’t designed with these data privacy restrictions in mind,” said Joshua Wohle, SuperAwesome’s head of product, commented in a statement. “As we’ve expanded to solve the kid-safe needs of advertisers and developers, we’ve been building more and more kid-safe technology. AwesomeAds is the next step: we’re literally building the online marketing infrastructure for future generations.
“Part of solving this challenge within the industry is to build out a new layer of kid-safe, compliant technology. Today developers can integrate kid-safe monetization with our SuperAwesome SDK across web, iOS, Android, Flash and Unity, there’s even an Oculus Rift version under development. But we’re really just getting started: AwesomeAds provides a powerful new ad-serving tool which reflects the needs of kids content developers and publishers for safe monetization with mobile-first design.”
Regulators have frowned on using aggressive tactics for in-app purchasing — the way that most modern apps monetize — with children.
SuperAwesome said that, with version one of AwesomeAds, it can already reach 200 million kids a month already across the desktop web, mobile, and online video. That is because it has relationships with 150 of the largest kid brands, including Lego, Hasbro, and Warner Bros. It has also signed up 100 kid app developers.
Version two includes the first ad server built specifically for the kids industry, said Dylan Collins, cofounder of SuperAwesome, in an email. The previous ad-serving in the first version had been done with highly customized versions of older ad technology. The increasing legislation about privacy for kids creates a “massive need” for kid-focused ad technology, Collins said.
The firm is hiring in New York, and it recently expanded to Southeast Asia. SuperAwesome was founded in January 2013, and it has 30 employees. Rivals include Disney and Turner, but those companies focus on advertising only their own properties. SuperAwesome’s investors include angels such as Paul Kenny and James Fairclough and Inspire Ventures. It has $2.4 million to date.
“We’re building SuperAwesome to solve a global problem and ensure that the digital kids industry can remain sustainable,” Collins said. “Safe kids digital advertising as a category didn’t really exist until we launched. We’ve now built the technology and team to make it viable and the extend of our advertising and developer partners clearly validates that.”