How CoComelon Became The Third Largest Channel on YouTube

YouTube
Instagram
Brand & Positioning Strategy
Content & Messaging
Organic Search & SEO
Cross-Channel
Amazon
January 1, 2021
News & Media

Key Takeaways

Audience Insights:

  • YouTube Audience: CoComelon’s YouTube Audience is evenly split between male and female, with 65% concentrated between the ages of 18-34 and 39% residing in the US (highest concentration).
  • Instagram Audience: CoComelon’s Instagram Audience is mainly female (82%), with 42% between the ages of 25-34, and 48% residing in the US (highest concentration). 22% of CoComelon’s Instagram audience is of African American descent.

Content Insights:

  • Education & Entertainment: At the highest level, CoComelon’s videos focus on a mix of education and entertainment. Top performing content themes include parental support (e.g., helping teach kids to eat their vegetables), classic nursery rhymes, compilations, and new songs. CoComelon differentiates their content from competitors through the use of song duos (i.e. both parents & kids can sing along), repetition, friendly animation, a host of recognizable & relatable characters, and storytelling. Parents like the education & entertainment aspects of CoComelon, while the topic of their music is contentious—with some finding it calm and gentle, and others annoying.
  • Focus On Long Form Content: Over the past several years, CoComelon has slowly increased the length of their videos to an average of 20.5 minutes in 2020. 50% of 2020 video uploads were longer than 30 minutes which accounted for 56% of total 2020 video views. Of the videos greater than 30 minutes, 78% were between 35-40 minutes long. These long form videos take the form of song compilations which typically start with a popular tune. CoComelon may be switching to a longer form video strategy to capitalize on parents who want to entertain their kids for longer without having to switch the videos or monitor what their kids are watching. 

Digital Strategy Insights: 

  • Web Traffic Focus — Organic Search, Direct, & Social: CoComelon derives the majority of their web traffic from Organic Search, Direct, and Social. CoComelon does not do any Paid Search, Display Ads, or Email Marketing (no newsletter) to drive traffic to their website.
  • Paid Channel Focus Allocation — Minimal Facebook Spend: In the past three years, CoComelon has not spent a significant amount on digital ads—spending only $2.8K on three Facebook ads. These ads focused on their merch (CoComelon album), a new video series called Family Time where parents share stories about their kids experience with CoComelon, and the launch of their baby food products & delivery service.  
  • Organic Social Focus Allocation — YouTube & COPPA Regulations: CoComelon experienced significant subscriber growth (+2910%) between Jan 2018 and Jan 2020. In April of 2018, YouTube was found to have violated federal children’s privacy laws. This led YouTube to launch, and aggressively market, their new app YouTube Kids—which was specifically tailored for babies, toddlers, and young children. As a result, CoComelon’s content was moved to the new app where there was less competition, as they no longer had to compete with videos that were not focused at kids. CoComelon also benefited through YouTube’s increase in advertising for the app which resulted in more app downloads and potential viewers for CoComelon. 
  • Content Focus Allocation — Streaming Platforms: In recent years, CoComelon has focused their efforts on getting into a variety of streaming platforms outside of YouTube such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime—which helps to spread brand awareness—rather than focusing their efforts on digital advertising. CoComelon was the top show on Netflix in 2020, beating out popular shows such as Tiger King and The Office. More and more parents are choosing to stream children content on Netflix—or heavily monitored apps such as YouTube Kids—rather than YouTube in an attempt to avoid inappropriate autoplay content that may appear on YouTube.

Audience

On YouTube, CoComelon’s audience is evenly split between male and female, with 65% concentrated between the ages of 18-34. This age concentration is most likely representative of parents and siblings whose devices are being used to access the content.

Audience

CoComelon’s YouTube audience is primarily concentrated (39%) in the United States, followed by the Philippines (15%) and India (5%). African countries such as Kenya, South Africa, & Algeria only make up <1% of CoComelon’s audience.

Percent of Audience

On Instagram, CoComelon’s audience heavily skews female, with a significant female concentration (42%) between 25-34.

Gender Pecentage

CoComelon’s Instagram audience is primarily concentrated in the US (48%), followed by Brazil and the UK. On Instagram, African countries command a larger share of the audience than on YouTube, with Nigeria, South Africa, & Tanzania making up 3% of the audience.

Percent of Audience

Interestingly on Instagram, 22% of CoComelon’s US audience is of African American descent.

African American Audience

The average income is $36K/yr for CoComelon’s Instagram audience.

Percent of Audience

Brand affinities for CoComelon’s audience include:

Affinities for CoComelon

Content

CoComelon’s YouTube views peaked in May 2020 during the pandemic, increasing +25% from January to May. Views then decreased -26% from May to July, and have remained relatively stable since at around 3.5B views per month.

Views

Top performing content buckets include:

Parental Support. Videos that help make parenting easier (e.g., taking a bath, eating their vegetables, going to bed).

Views: 2.6B

Classic Nursery Rhymes. CoComelon’s spin on classic nursery rhymes such as “Wheels on the Bus” or “Old MacDonald.”

Views: 2.4B

Compilations. Video compilations typically longer than 30 minutes which play songs in succession (allows to entertain kids for longer) and begin with a popular song.

Views: 1.3B

New Songs. CoComelon originals that riff off of both classic nursery rhymes & contemporary tunes (i.e. a combination of “Itsie Bitsie Spider” & Baby Shark).

Views: 1.7B (Avg. CoComelon YouTube Views: 143M)

In the last ten years, CoComelon’s average video duration* has steadily increased to an average of 20.5 minutes in 2020.

Average Video Duration
*Note: Excluding live streams

In 2020, 50% of uploads were over 30 minutes long which accounted for 56% of total views for the year.

Number of Upload

Zooming in on videos over 30 minutes in 2020, 78% were between 35-40 minutes (avg. 36 mins.), which accounted for 68% of views for videos greater than 30 minutes long (or 39% of total video views for 2020).

Number of Upload

CoComelon uses song duos, repetition, friendly animation, and a host of recognizable & relatable characters to try and make their content more unique than competitors.

  • Song Duos. Songs have specific singing parts for parents and kids, which presents the opportunity for parents and kids to sing & learn together.
  • Repetition. CoComelon pairs the same melody in many of their songs with simple lyrics which helps to develop a rhythmic familiarity for preschoolers.
  • Recognizable & Relatable Characters. CoComelon has created a family of characters that are both relatable and easily recognizable.
  • Animation Style. CoComelon’s animation style is very similar to Pixar/Disney which has been proven to be successful with young kids.

CoComelon’s content incorporates storytelling and puts their own spin on classic nursery rhymes. This is in contrast to other channels, such as Little Baby Bum, that do not stray far from the original narrative.

CoComelon tells a full narrative on how the kids got the star to get back into the sky. The video shows multiple ways that the kids tried to solve the problem (i.e. introduces problem solving skills). Overall this format is more engaging and like a short film. 

Little Baby Bum’s video does not have as elaborate of a story and mostly focuses on a star singing on stage.

CoComelon’s storytelling is a lot more sophisticated and engaging compared to Little Baby Bum. CoComelon typically includes multiple ways that the main character attempts to achieve their goal which helps to keep the narrative entertaining.

The mouse tries out several different methods of getting up the clock before finding the final solution of getting help from a friend (who the mouse helps get a peanut). This helps teach that sometimes you need help from others to achieve things.

Little Baby Bum incorporates more of a story in this animation. Though, the mouse tries to run up the clock the same way three times and is finally successful after being shot out of a rocket (i.e no lesson).

Parents like CoComelon content because it strikes a balance between entertainment & education.

CoComelon’s songs and music is another element that parents enjoy about their content. Though, this is a contentious issue with some parents tolerating the songs and others banning CoComelon content in their homes due to them finding it to be annoying.

Digital Strategy

On average, CoComelon’s website generates 70K site visits per month (desktop and mobile combined). CoComelon saw a -73% decrease in site traffic in May 2020, which was driven by mobile.

Web Traffic

CoComelon’s main marketing channel is Organic Search, followed by Direct and Social (Youtube). CoComelon does not do any Paid Search, Display Ads, or Email Marketing (no newsletter) to drive traffic to their website.

In the past three years, CoComelon has not spent a significant amount on digital ads—spending only $2.8K on three creatives.

Ad Spend

The few FB ads that CoComelon ran were for their merch (CoComelon album), a new video series called Family Time where parents share stories about their kids experience with CoComelon, and the launch of their baby food products & delivery service.

Although CoComelon’s channel started in 2006, they did not see exponential growth until 2018, when they went from 3.4M subscribers in January 2018 to 30M subscribers in January 2019.

Number of YouTube Subscribers

Zooming into the past two years, CoComelon saw a large surge in subscribers in August of 2019 (+5M), with follower growth experiencing slight fluctuates after, but leveling out at an average of 2.7M new subscribers a month.

Number of New Subcribers

So how did CoComelon become the third most subscribed YouTube channel of all time with minimal to zero digital advertising? It all started with COPPA violations in 2018.

In April 2018, YouTube was found to have violated federal children’s privacy laws. This led to a series of new regulations on YouTube that began to slowly roll out throughout the year and into 2019. 

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In September of 2019, YouTube announced new regulations for all creators to comply with COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) laws. These new regulations required all creators to mark their video as “Made for Kids” or “NOT Made for Kids”. YouTube also removed all advertising on content created for kids.


With new COPPA regulations in place, YouTube began to aggressively advertise YouTube Kids, which is an app created exclusively for babies, toddlers, and young children. YouTube ran 178 search ads in 2019 for YouTube Kids.

YouTube also ran display ads directing users to the Youtube Kids website.

The COPPA regulations were beneficial for CoComelon in three ways:

  1. The promotion of YouTube Kids led to a spike in downloads for the app. This, in turn, increased views for CoComelon as all their content was uploaded into the YouTube kids app.
  2. There was less direct competition on YouTube Kids, as CoComelon was no longer competing against “not-for-kids” content that children may have been unknowingly watching.
  3. Cocomelon did not have to spend advertising dollars, as YouTube was essentially promoting on their behalf

In recent years, CoComelon has focused their efforts on getting into a variety of streaming platforms outside of YouTube such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime—which helps to spread brand awareness—rather than focusing their efforts on digital advertising. CoComelon took the #1 spot in 2020 outranking popular shows such as Tiger King.

More and more parents are becoming more cautious about their children streaming content on YouTube and prefer heavily monitored apps such as Netflix in an attempt to avoid inappropriate autoplay content that may appear on the platform.

There is a subreddit dedicated towards parents investigating a series of videos that contain inappropriate content aimed towards children. This phenomenon has been dubbed #ElsaGate.


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