Tik Tok too instant to attract advertisers

Blew-up short video platform, Tik Tok encounters obstacles finding advertisers as its fast and instant characteristics make advertising hard for users and advertisers.

Tik Tok influencers are unable to show their characteristics and sell the products in details, Mr Edwin Wong Kong-yuen, the co-founder of an online marketing platform said. While Tik Tok users observe growing disparity of the view counts between them and established influencers.

Tik Tok had highest downloads among non-game apps on the Apple app store globally in the first quarter of 2018, according to market research company SensorTower. Massive traffic comes with potential business opportunities, however, Tik Tok's 15 seconds long video is enough for creating a relaxing lip-synching video, but definitely too short to present products for sale in details.

Research conducted by Tencent's Penguin Intelligence shows Tik Tok users are mostly young female under 24. The purposes of sharing videos are for entertaining and to record life.

Launched in September of 2016, Tik Tok, also known as Douyin from ByteDance Technology in China, allows users to watch musical clips, shoot, edit short clips and add special effects to videos. Being one of the most fast growing apps in the world, Tik Tok has more than 500 million monthly active users all over the world and become the most downloaded free app in App Store (Hong Kong).

Having a massive number of teenage audiences, Tik Tok is a heavenly advertising platform for brands who desperately need to expand their youngster market or want to promote themselves through viral videos. However, advertisers are not thrilled at this new marketing opportunity.

Seconds long videos can't attract advertisers

Limited brands were interested in Tik Tok, said Mr Edwin Wong Kong-yuen, the co-founder of Cloudbreakr, a platform matching influencers with brands by analyzing social data. The main difficulty comes from its instant nature and monotonous video theme.

Cloudbreakr helps brands to explore social influencers. Edwin observed that Tik Tok was not popular among his customers from Asia Pacific.

Cost of advertising was also one of the considerations. Wong pointed out that the cost of advertising on Tik Tok was not cheap because the ads were too short. The most effective way was to pay for the splash ads, a full-page interstitial ad that is displayed immediately after the application is launched, which costs at least hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was too risky for the advertisers as putting an advertisement on Instagram only costs thousands of dollars.

Wong believed that the most appropriate and common way to advertising on a live streaming platform was embedded advertising.

Embedded advertising is highly acceptable for Tik Tok users as a research conducted by Tencent’s Penguin Intelligence shows. About 33 percent accept ads embedding in the tutorial video. And 74 percent like to see ads promoting products in a funny and creative way.

However, advertisers find it difficult to recruit suitable Tik Tok influencers to become their product endorser. With only seconds-long videos, the type, positioning and target audience of a Tik Tok influencer are unclear. As the co-founder of an influencer marketing platform, Wong said, “Most of the time, when you want to sell a product, you need to present the experience of using that product in details and show the features. However on most of the live streaming platform, they can only introduce the product plainly because of the time limitation, they cannot describe the item in details.”

Even though 74 percent of respondents like funny ads on Tik Tok, Wong found out that advertisers liked to promote in an aesthetic way instead of being humorous. Instagram is still the most popular platform to Wong’s clients because they like to see beautiful things and content of decent quality, which are more long-lasting and sustainable. Tik Tok is not a platform suitable for every brand as they may promote different values.

Tik Tok's creators cannot keep audience

Once the users open Tik Tok, a video will start playing right away without you even selecting one. The videos that played automatically are featured videos, labelledd “For You,” which are viral videos recommended by an algorithm. Tik Tok’s creator complains that this causes polarization of view counts.

Simon thought that Tik Tok account can be operated like YouTube channel, but he hopes there will be more functions like live-stream and reward system.

Mr Simon Lee Cheuk-ming is the founder of Barkids, a local street workout team. He created a YouTube channel 5 years ago, and his tutorial video of street workout helps him recruit students and gain business cooperation and performance opportunities. He has started playing Tik Tok for 3 months and his most-viewed video has 17.6 thousands of hearts. But he soon found out it is hard to keep the audience's attention with the same trick. “I think maybe they like something exciting and new, so I started posting video of me doing a street workout. But the audience has already been complaining my video boring. So I have to think of some new tricks. ”

Simon's first street gym video on Tik Tok went viral at instant. But the audience's attention is hard to keep.

The loss of audience was not only caused by the repetitive content but also caused by the “For You” function, Lee said. The popular influencers are more likely to get recommended while the others get less and less opportunity. Lee also complained the search function of Tik Tok was not as comprehensive as YouTube, which is still his favorite platform.

Simon recruits his students mainly from YouTube by sharing street gym tutorial, he thinks Tik Tok cannot be a replacement as the app is not targeted at local users. (From Barkids Facebook)

Tik Tok's users prefer less advertisement

There are around 66 percent of total Tik Tok users from female and 75 percent of total Tik Tok users from teenagers under 24, they mainly watch short music videos to kill time, according to Tencent’s Penguin Intelligence. Hong Kong secondary school students Ms Mandy Wong said that she knows Tik Tok from her friends. She has used the app for a month and she spends 2 hours on it every day. “It is unstoppable using Tik Tok, it automatically jumps to the next video when one ends, and every video is as fun as the last one.” Mandy thought that there is less ad on Tik Tok than other social media like Facebook and Instagram, so it is acceptable for her.

Addictive “swipe” interface provides users with unlimited videos and make your fingers unstoppable. Mandy Wong spends two hours on Tik Tok every day.

Lee hates commercialization, he can only accept product placement and embedded advertising in his favorite influencers' video. Non-skippable video ads are totally unacceptable. “Time is very precious, I waste 30 seconds of my life if the ad does not fit me.” Also, he said that Facebook and Instagram were already flooded with ads, he does not hope Tik Tok to be the next.

Tik Tok attracts 500 million monthly active users all over the world, but the instant nature of short video platform makes video creators difficult to show their personalities and promote themselves. Advertisers also think advertising on Tik Tok is risky and shallow. “Make every second count” is the slogan of Tik Tok, yet it is a long way to persuade the advertisers.

《The Young Financial Post 新報人財經》

新報人財經(TYFP)為香港浸會大學新聞系財經專業的實驗平台,由學生自主編採,為社會大眾提供中港相關的金融財經消息。

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