TikTok, with over 100 million monthly active users in the U.S., insists no platform has that reach without “something for everyone” as it looked shake up perception that it’s a Gen Z phenomenon.
In a pitch to marketers at the Digital NewFronts, TikTok showcased soft stats like how happy it makes users, how much less content they consume elsewhere and how many more brands are engaging with its 31,000 vetted content creators. The platform said advertisers running campaigns in the U.S. have increased 500% in the past year.
“It’s not just dancing and lip-synching Gen Z-ers. There’s comedy and science, parenting and cooking,” said head of U.S. advertising Sandie Hawkins. “We reach all demographics.”
Users “check Facebook,” she said, but “they watch TikTok.”
Research done with Kantar had 93% of TikTokers in the U.S. feeling happy after spending time on the service and 88% saying they intend to spend the same amount of time or more on TikTok over the next six months. Some 30% said they watch less TV, streaming or other video content since joining the platform.
Execs touted #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt, a trending tag that’s helped sell out items from American Eagle legging to Ocean Spray cranberry juice, and feta cheese. It’s tagline to brands, “Don’t make ads, make TikToks.”
TikTok moved into aggressive advertising mode last year with its first NewFronts presentation. Since then, rivals have been pushing into its space. Facebook rolled out a short-form video service called Reels within its Instagram app, YouTube launched YouTube Shorts and smaller rival Triller, backed by former Relativity Media honcho Ryan Kavanaugh and billed as his big comeback, is growing quickly.
An eventful year sees TikTok entering this week’s NewFronts with a new CEO and out from under a cloud of being forced to sell itself or banned from the U.S. as the Biden administration backs off from his predecessor’s aggressive stance.
After eight months without a steady leader in place, TikTok earlier this week named Shou Zi Chew as chief executive. He became CFO of TikTok’s parent company ByteDance in March and will keep that post too. He replaced Vanessa Pappas who had been TikTok’s interim CEO ever since Kevin Mayer stepped down abruptly last August after only three months.
Pappas is now chief operating officer and former Disney exec Mayer is now chairman of DAZN Group. He left TikTok after former President Donald Trump executive ordered the platform to sell itself or be banned from the U.S. There followed a bizarre series of talks with Microsoft, then a quasi-deal with Oracle and a group ByteDance investors.
Trump called the company, which is owned by Chinese group ByteDance, a security risk. The issue was U.S. user data. TikTok has always insisted that there’s a firewall between the app and its corporate owner in China and that no U.S. user data is stored on Chinese servers.
Trump’s order followed a June incident where TikTok users reportedly prank registered for hundreds of thousands of tickets to a Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa then didn’t show, embarrassing the president with low attendance at the event.
The Trump administration filed several lawsuits against TikTok that were decided in the platform’s favor and are in appeal. However, TikTok appears to be out of Washington’s crosshairs as the Biden DOJ signaled in February that it could stand down.