Should Regional Businesses Advertise on Tik Tok?

The end of 2016 saw one of the most popular apps amongst todays youth, Vine, shut down its servers (later became a camera tool for twitter). An app that promoted short 6 second clip videos took off and started a wave of users to gain millions of followers and build fame and success and full-time careers. Why did it die? Years of a high-turnover rate in the executive branch of the company played a crucial role, and when brands dealt directly with the influencer as opposed to through the app, Vine had lost interest from the brands and advertisers lost millions of dollars in potential ad deals. Vine resisted monetization and never took a cut from these deals; other successful apps have and continue to do so. Public outcry amongst users and fans to save the company were met with the swift reality of the company closing its doors and rebranding as a camera app through twitter that’s like the camera on your phone. So, what was going to take Vine’s place?

Tik Tok, whom merged with the former app Musical.ly, launched in 2017 as a social media app for drafting and sharing short lip-sync videos. The app is targeted to 13-24 year old’s, with 66% of its users under the age of 30, and it allows the users to create 15 second videos, 9 more then the prior vine. By the end of 2018 it became the most downloaded free app on the Apple App store & Google Play in the US, and third in the world. 2019 hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down, with 1.1 billion installs on smart phones as of March. With the popularity growing, the company decided to add changes to the platform to attract more users, such as: comedians performing stand up, skateboarders showing off tricks, pranks, dancing, and other videos showcasing a talent or some form of influence.

Not only are there everyday users and influencers on Tik Tok, but brands and larger companies, such as the NFL, are creating Tik Toks to market to the younger consumer. There are a few ways a brand can utilize this app. They can create their own account and then upload their own content through their own channel. A second way would be to work directly with influencers who have an existing following, which they can use to spread their content to multiple audiences at once. A third, would be to pay to advertise on Tik Tok, which can be executed in a few different ways.

Advertising on Tik Tok is still in its infant stages, with agencies and brands waiting for the full launch of the platform’s ad options to become available. Currently they have 4 options that are available to use: Biddable Ads, Brand Takeovers, Hashtag Challenges, and Branded Lenses.

The first, Biddable Ads, was launched as a beta version of Tik Tok’s managed service platform, where advertisers can set up and run the ads themselves. This still requires a rep to run the ads, so not full self-serve isn’t there yet, but the in-feed ads are available in CPC/CPM/CPV and have several targeting options.

Next is Brand Takeover, the ad type will appear when the user opens the app, so your ad is fully seen, and the image can be hyperlinked to an internal or external destination. Brand Takeover is limited to one advertiser per day, so until it grows exponentially it will be tough to use.

Third is the Hashtag Challenge. This will encourage the user to participate by creating their own content by asking them to participate in a challenge that revolves around a hashtag, ex: #TransformUrRoom, and they do a bedroom makeover.

The last is Branded Lenses, which is like the lenses on SnapChat where you can put filters over your face, but Tik Tok’s will bring face filters, 3D objects, and more to the user. Lenses bring a large amount of engagement to the app, and given the massive following Tik Tok has, it’s a very popular option to boost brand messaging.

Tik Tok is not Vine, it may have the same short video clip concept, but it incorporates its own twist to the idea, and business has not stopped increasing since its initial launch. Should a regional business start to utilize Tik Tok and move some of its media budget into advertising on this platform? The answer is unclear. There are ways to advertise and reach a large audience on Tik Tok, but most of its ad platform is still in beta, so the numbers and metrics are still very raw to confidently place a large amount of money in the platform. There is no reason not to give it a shot if your media budget has some extra money or a discretionary fund to work with, but until the metrics, targeting, and ad platform are fully launched its tough to invest a decent amount. Tik Tok has the tools and following to continue to grow and succeed, but they need to build their ad platform ASAP, so they do not burn out as fast as they came.