WPP Forms Pact With ‘Kid Tech’ Platform SuperAwesome

Global privacy laws are putting pressure on how brands advertise to kids

wpp and superawesome logos
SuperAwesome's tech insures that zero data is used to serve ads to kids. WPP, Super Awesome
Headshot of Andrew Blustein

Key insight:

As content consumption surges during the pandemic, WPP has struck a global partnership with SuperAwesome, a self-proclaimed kid-tech platform, to help advertise to children in a more privacy-compliant way.

The agreement means that all agencies within the WPP holding group (as well as their clients) have access to SuperAwesome’s tools, including a software platform that reviews ads to make sure they’re child-appropriate, plus ensures that no data is captured when those ads are served.

The pact comes as digital advertising faces increasing regulatory pressure on how it serves ads to kids. Dylan Collins, CEO of SuperAwesome, said child privacy laws have historically focused on content owners, but California Consumer Privacy Act and Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation have made the issue more mainstream.

“The industry is accepting that these laws are going to apply all the way up the delivery chain,” said Collins.

The partnership also provides WPP’s agencies and clients access to SuperAwesome’s KidAware certification program, which ensures that online ad practices comply with the latest privacy laws around the world, including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act in the U.S.

“We’re already seeing big changes in family life as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and how we all interact with technology. WPP’s partnership with SuperAwesome is part of our commitment to ensure children’s safety while engaging with content online. It sets the first benchmark for digital privacy for children and provides our clients with access to industry-leading strategies and the latest privacy-by-design technology for the under-16 digital media space,” Mark Read, CEO of WPP, said in a statement.

Kids have been flocking to new apps during quarantine, while mainstays like TikTok and YouTube surge in usage.

Social media companies have long faced scrutiny over how they advertise to kids. TikTok has recently come under fire after advocacy groups said it failed to make privacy changes after the Federal Trade Commission, which enforces COPPA, served it a $5.7 million fine last year, according to The New York Times.

“The big challenge is that most of their business models are based around advertising, and the adult world is data-driven, which is fundamentally incompatible with kids. If you haven’t designed from kids as a first principal for these services, it’s certainly not impossible, but it’s a whole bunch of work to do if you’re growing extremely fast,” added Collins.

SuperAwesome was founded in 2013 and has over 300 clients, including Hasbro, Nike and Unilever. The company raised $17 million in funding in January and says it’s profitable.

@andrewblustein andrew.blustein@adweek.com Andrew Blustein is a programmatic reporter at Adweek.