The news: The popularization of the metaverse and the rise of social media apps like TikTok have given marketers an opportunity to access young consumers like never before. But regulator scrutiny and concern about social media and advertising’s impact on children has forced companies to adapt their practices—or risk intense backlash.
The worst of it: TikTok is a flash point in the discussion around the effect that advertising and social media have on children, and recent reports that link viral TikTok challenges to the deaths of 15 children aged 12 or younger in the last year and a half aren’t helping matters.
Metaverse marketing targets children: Virtual platforms like Fortnite and Roblox emerged as popular advertising channels for brands looking to make inroads with young users, but they are still video games-first—and ones that serve an extremely young demographic.
Our take: Both TikTok and metaverse platforms will have to put effective systems in place to protect young users if they want to quell brand, parental, and regulator concerns about their places in advertising. Brands that partner with those platforms should take extra steps to ensure that their activations prioritize safety for young users.