YouTube has long been a growing resource for brands to tap influential personalities for added visibility – but in the last few years especially, an unlikely hero has emerged: the kid YouTuber.

As a PR professional with more than 15 years experience in the toy space, I have seen the increasing impact that YouTube influencers have had on the success with kids and their parents at retail. As a parent, I get it even more; I watch my children follow the adventures of these YouTube stars as they explore vacation destinations, undertake food challenges and unbox toys before they are even in stores. And it’s not just limited to my children. The newest version of rainy day playdates (and even ones on hot sunny days) consist of my kids and their friends gathered around an iPad (or two) watching videos of their favorite YouTubers.

Is Traditional TV Going Down the Tube?

Like many children these days, my kids are no longer watching cable TV – it’s Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube – so really, the only time their eyeballs are on traditional ads is a 30 second spot at the beginning of a Youtube video (which they skip as soon as it’s an option). According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Nielsen reports 53 % fewer kids age 6-11 watched the Disney Channel in the 2017 cable season than in 2008, and 54 % fewer watched Nickelodeon. Meanwhile, 32% of kids said they prefer watching videos on a non-TV device in 2016, according to researcher EMarketer. Kids also ranked YouTube as their favorite brand out of 350 choices, according to a September 2017 survey by Smarty Pants LLC.

New Age for Ads

With marquee kid brands making major investments in these kids, including Disney Resorts, Marvel and our own client Fingerlings, others in the industry are starting to take notice. Many are shifting advertising dollars and putting those funds towards YouTube. Companies are even giving these stars their own lines, hoping kids will be more inclined to purchase. Crafter Karina Garcia has her own line of slime, Guava Juice has DIY activity sets and Ryan from Ryan ToysReview has a whole line of toys – all being sold at national retailers and this is just the beginning.

Getting It Right is Imperative 

This is all very exciting but it’s still not a perfect science. When speaking with current or potential clients, we often compare the world of influencers to the Wild West. As with every new vehicle to reach consumers, there are challenges in navigating the sometimes very murky waters. One of the biggest can be finding the right channel for your brand and working closely with the creator to create content that keeps the core audience appropriately engaged, while not losing focus on your brand values and key messaging. Each influencer has a unique brand they’re trying to build, so when suggesting a partnership, it’s important to do it in a manner that respects their channel. There are no set rules and no guarantees on ROI – but it always helps to have a good guide to introduce you to the right folks and help navigate the complex world that YouTube has become. When dealing with content for children there is no room for missteps.  

YouTube Helps Unbox Holiday Hot Lists

Last year, our client Fingerlings kicked off a rather successful year <ahem, sold out at stores everywhere> with Fingerlings Friday, where YouTube stars lead the way by bashing life size banana pinatas filled with Fingerlings figures. From then on, WowWee has made it a priority to include pint size video vanguards in each and every launch. For each campaign we work as a team on a creative concept, then identify the best partners for the challenge. Needless to say our influencer database is always growing and our Amazon shopping is on point! We even figured out how to safely put Fingerlings Minis in the middle of a cupcake for a super secret brand reveal!

There are many benefits to the introduction of this new medium to my job, BUT the very best part of this movement — I get to work with my kids!  They are my at home assistants, and their friends are my built in focus groups.

To discuss how our team can help your brand authentically engage with influencers and Kid YouTubers, please contact us at