How TotallyAwesome helps brands engage kids and teens in a meaningful way

TotallyAwesome CEO Will Anstee (far right) with investors

Studies show that Internet use among minors (under 18) accounts for 40 percent of daily traffic globally.

They use the Internet for education, entertainment and socialization. But the dangers behind this growing number are worrying, and a Zoomer’s Insights survey shows that parents across Asia Pacific are most concerned about content safety for their children. Inappropriate content in games is one of the biggest concerns.

While many companies are already tapping into this segment, brand safety and compliance have made connecting with the young audience daunting, especially if brands are not equipped with the right expertise and technology.

“We understand the importance and dangers of this,” says Will Anstee, co-founder and CEO of TotallyAwesome. “So we create brand-funded games that help children’s confidence, help their socialization, help educate a child in a fun way through STEM-based modules. This way, we keep young people safe on the Internet.”

Headquartered in Singapore, TotallyAwesome is an advanced digital advertising network for children, teens and families. It is a purpose-built media and content company, with one foot in media and engagement and the other in cyber security.

“From a media perspective, we ensure that brands engage children and teenagers responsibly and act as youth safety insurance for brands,” says Anstee e27. “We advise brands on how to move beyond an advertising game to one of utility and meaning. Our role is to help marketers plan and execute the most successful campaigns for their brands, providing an experience of positivity for the end user and further benefit to the brand.”

Also read: Prepare kids for the future of work by asking founders about the skills they’re hiring for

According to a 2018 UN study, 175,000 children come online for the first time every day. There is a need for proprietary and contextual data graphs that the advertising industry can respond to. “Under 18s are increasingly looking to digital platforms via mobile phones for entertainment, playing games, hanging out and discovering new brands,” says Anstee. “Advertisers must target the target audience at the right time, in the right environment and with a persuasive/creative message. But they often deprioritize marketing to U18s due to a lack of clear profile information and regulation.”

And under 18s going online is typically very problematic as the internet brings a dark side. Big tech companies like Instagram and TikTok were recently fined for mishandling and failing to protect children’s data. Some others, such as Microsoft, have complex terms and conditions that can take a trained lawyer up to an hour to read!

“What chance do under 18s have in these situations then?” Anstee asks. “That’s why TotallyAwesome was born. We allow brands to engage with their audiences across different media formats (apps and websites, YouTube, creators) for improved usability and a positive outcome.”

Backed by science, but human by design

TotallyAwesome is science-backed but human by design, says Anstee, who refers to himself as the ‘anti-CEO’ running a people-first, heart-based company. The startup curates more content and inventory through the lens of an under-18. This is achieved through the deployment of tailored technology that is explicitly designed to offer young people contextual and customized content through age-appropriate engagement.

“We have technological advances in semantic and contextual targeting that allow a brand’s value to resonate in the most appropriate emotional context, driving hyper-relevance and meaning. TotallyAwesome also relies on an army of people to apply a ‘human value judgment’ to everything content, ensuring a brand is laser-focused and never compromised,” he explains.

Anstee, who co-founded TotallyAwesome with Marcus Herrmann and Daniel Nguyen, says all of its rankings are enriched with proprietary data and a standardized structure, ensuring a consistent result for brands. Its philosophy and investment in contextual targeting combines machine and human best practices. This gives brands a unique, secure and scalable channel to their high-value audiences, delivering a superior media return on investment (ROI).

The company provides brands with products with purpose across a range of media formats –

  • Apps and websites: video/animated video, display, rich media;
  • YouTube: TrueView/animated video/360, 15s non-skippable, 6s bumper;
  • Creators: YouTube video, Facebook, Instagram video/post, TikTok video;
  • TotallyPlay: In-game ads, custom integrations, eSports sponsorships.

TotallyAwesome implements a three-step process to guarantee a brand’s media effectiveness and efficiency:

Audience first:

a) A tailored inventory “discovery” process that captures a high-quality audience marketplace where brands can engage an audience with confidence and accuracy by leveraging,

b) Analysis of behavioral patterns and paths to purchase across content, interests and mindsets,

c) Consumer insight in real time about media habits and content consumption
Resident psychologist who provides behavioral insights at each life stage by market,

d) AI-powered algorithms that match similar content.

Curation (to ensure a brand appears on audience and brand safe content):

a) Moderation of a specialist team, by market, of children, teenagers and family experts,

b) Over 2 million hours of combined child, teen and family expertise working with brands and content owners

c) Audience Safe Content Only – KidSAFE Certification Logo

Enrichment (human by design):

a) Consistent categorization by people who understand content, language, age, gender and life stage – not algorithms,

b) Content is categorized by psychologists and family/educational experts,

c) Security is guaranteed by humans, not a constantly changing algorithm.

The AI ​​startup has teen moderators (all 18+) on teen content. They moderate each piece of its various marketing channels/marketplace and categorize it in its proprietary curation and moderation platform.

In addition, it has a resident practicing psychologist who advises on what is age-appropriate and who consequently helps it shape its products and develop tailored research solutions. This science-backed approach is combined with local language human moderators to ensure brand safety and emphasize human interpretation over AI-based solutions.

Also Read: Unlikely Mentors: What Kids Can Teach You About Entrepreneurship

“Our tailored approach has discovered, curated and moderated over 7,000 ‘KidSafe/TeenSafe’ apps, websites, games and YouTube channels across Asia Pacific, enabling us to reach over 500 million monthly active users, ” says Anstee. “Our products are 100 percent COPPA (The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and Children’s Data and Parental Consent (GDPR-k)) compliant.”

TotallyAwesome, which operates in Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand and APAC, recently raised US$10 million (debt and equity) seed funding from San Francisco-based Partners For Growth and Singapore-based Yefira Group. “We will invest in product development to grow our enterprise advertising platform, increase hiring across its sales, data science and machine learning teams and explore strategic M&A,” he notes.

“We will use the money to strengthen our position in the market while expanding our footprint across key strategic markets such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan and Australia,” concludes Anstee.

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