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What Advertisers Can Learn from TikTok’s Success




November 21, 2018 | Article written by Carly Morris

 
As with any industry, it’s important for mobile advertisers to stay on top of the latest trends in their given vertical. From IGTV to augmented reality and hackvertising, there are constantly new tools and strategies to better reach and engage potential new audiences on their mobile devices.

While major players like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat have long ruled the social world, it’s time to turn our attention toward the latest “it” app, TikTok.

In September, TikTok was reported to be the most downloaded app in the United States, and it’s currently valued at a whopping $75 billion. Now advertisers and app developers alike are wondering how the app climbed the charts so quickly, and how they can replicate its massive success.

 

What is TikTok?

TikTok is an app that allows users to create short-form videos that integrate music or other pre-recorded audio tracks. TikTok also recently merged with Musical.ly, which made it even easier for users around the world to elevate their videos with music.

And, because 50% of Musical.ly’s iOS users & 60% of their Android users were between the ages of 13 and 24, this was a huge move for TikTok in their Gen Z and Millennial audience consolidation.

Now, TikTok is catching the eye of competitors and advertisers as its active user count continues to skyrocket.

 

Why Should We Take Note of TikTok?

Following TikTok’s merger with Musical.ly in August 2018, the app has grown exponentially, including:
 
● User base increased by 30%
 
● Global downloads increased by 20%
 
● US downloads increased by 25%
 
● Ranking overtook YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook in US downloads from the Google Play and Apple App Stores

 
 

What Can Advertisers Learn from TikTok?

TikTok’s app store ranking is undoubtedly impressive, but that’s not to say there’s no room for improvement.

First and foremost, here are a few things we can learn from their success:
 
● Paid Acquisition Pays Off
TikTok attributes its massive spike in downloads to intelligent ad spending on top social channels like Facebook, which helped to expand its network among similar audiences.
 
● Maintain Users by Merging Forces, Not Starting Over
When TikTok merged with Musical.ly, it automatically transferred Musical.ly users to TikTok users, ensuring a seamless transition without risking the loss of users or their data.
 
● Play on Global Trends
In China, over a third of the country’s 1.4 billion population are active each month on apps like TikTok (called Douyin in China). TikTok saw the popularity of video streaming among Chinese mobile users and tapped into this opportunity to make it big.
 
● Know Your Audience
About 80% of TikTok’s sessions come from Android devices. When developing and optimizing your ads for iOS and Android, keep a close eye on where your users are most active so you know where to focus your efforts accordingly.

 
 
On the flipside, it’s equally important to remember:
 
● Downloads Don’t Always Equal Engagement
While TikTok has seen exponential growth in downloads, its engagement rate still can’t quite compare to some of the other major social networks in its playing field. Today, TikTok’s engagement rate runs about 28%, while Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube all have over 90% engagement rates.
 
● Privacy Should Be A Top Concern
Unfortunately, there are a number of privacy concerns with TikTok, due in part to its youth-majority audience. Currently, anyone can watch videos without signing up for the app, there are no parental controls, there have been reports of inappropriate content, and more. While undeniably popular, the app still has a long way to go to prove its safety and privacy features before users are able to fully trust it.

 
 
TikTok’s success is certainly impressive, and offers quite a bit that mobile brands can learn when trying to make it big, especially among younger Millennial and Gen Z audiences. That being said, it’s still a relatively new arrival, and it will be interesting to continue watching the new trends that arise in the space.

Will this breed of short-form video be short-lived? Or is it here to stay? Only time will tell.