Kids’ Ad Revenue for Social Media

Headshot of Zach Ward.

CHDS faculty Zachary Ward co-authored a study revealing that six social media platforms collectively made nearly $11 billion in advertising revenue from US users under the age of 18 in 2022. In the first known study to estimate social media-specific advertising revenue from children in the US, researchers used public survey and market research data to comprehensively estimate Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, X (Twitter), and YouTube’s number of youth users and related advertising revenue. They combined these estimates with market research data on advertising revenue across the platforms in simulation models to assess how much ad revenue the various platforms earned from child and adolescent users.

The study found that in 2022, YouTube had 49.7 million U.S.-based users under age 18; TikTok, 18.9 million; Snapchat, 18 million; Instagram, 16.7 million; Facebook, 9.9 million; and X, 7 million. YouTube derived the greatest ad revenue from users 12 and under ($959.1 million), followed by Instagram ($801.1 million) and Facebook ($137.2 million). Instagram derived the greatest ad revenue from users ages 13-17 ($4 billion), followed by TikTok ($2 billion) and YouTube ($1.2 billion). Because social media platforms don’t disclose user age data or advertising revenue data by age group, the study was limited by relying on estimations and projections from public survey and market research sources. However, the simulation methods can be updated as more data are made available.

Learn more: Read the Harvard Gazette story
Learn more: Read the full article, Social Media Platforms Generate Billions of Dollars in Revenue from U.S. Youth: Findings from a Simulated Revenue Model

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