The impact of the digital revolution on child-focused businesses - how will you engage your market?


By Hannah Batten

This is a really interesting look at some of the issues facing the BBC's offering to children, in light of the rapid development of digital media and its impact on the way in which children interact with content.

This is a recurring theme at the moment.  If your business operates in the children's media field (whether in content creation, production, broadcasting, brand licensing, retailing or in any other guise), the question of how you should (and can) engage with your target audience / market using the baffling array of new digital platforms and offerings is likely to be at the forefront of your mind.  This will be influenced by a huge number of factors, some of which raise legal (as well as commercial) issues.  For example:

  • To what extent can (and should) you collect and make use of data about children's usage and online viewing habits?  How do you make sure that any data you do collect is secure, and that you comply with any applicable privacy and data protection laws?
  • How should you market your brand / offering?  Are there any limitations on what you can do?  Are there any reputational issues to consider?
  • Do you need permission from parents/guardians before allowing children to access or use your digital services (or aspects of them)?  If so, what's the best way of obtaining this permission?

The digital revolution is probably the single biggest challenge, but also the biggest opportunity, facing the industry today.  Obviously there is no 'one-size-fits-all' solution here, and what works for one business or brand may well be unsuitable for another.  One thing is clear though - those who are agile enough to adapt to the new environment and offer something truly consumer-centric are likely to be the biggest winners.

We all know that digital is changing everything, from the sheer quantity of content available to the way that it has utterly transformed how programmes are viewed – and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Changes to viewing habits are fundamental… far reaching… happening very quickly… and if you’re a child it’s very, very exciting – a golden age of media, even. But digital isn’t just a bowl of cherries. There are challenges too – for the BBC, for the children’s television industry, and for society at large.
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