TikTok Tells Brands Not to ‘Make Ads’ at First-Ever NewFronts

It announced new ways marketers can use the platform

three cellphone screenshots: left is a odg on a bed, middle is a man in front of a mirror bent over, right is a woman standing with her arms raised
TikTok presented at NewFronts for the first time Thursday. TikTok
Headshot of Scott Nover

Ahead of TikTok’s presentation at the 2020 Digital Content NewFronts, the company released a new umbrella brand called TikTok for Business for its advertiser offerings. TikTok, a newcomer to NewFronts, adapted its vertical-first format for a horizontal presentation.

The main message to brands in today’s presentation was to understand the platform before running ads, hence its NewFronts slogan: “Don’t make ads, make TikToks.” 

“Brands have taken notice that being yourself is good for business, and we aim to continue providing a platform so they can build a meaningful presence,” Katie Puris, managing director and global head of business marketing at TikTok, wrote in a blog post. “We champion authenticity, creativity and expressiveness because it’s who our users are and how they stand out.”

TikTok for Business will include five current options for marketers using the platform, according to the company’s director of communications, Laura Perez: TopView, a 60-second ad when users open the app; Brand Takeover, a three- to five-second ad served to the entire TikTok community; in-feed video ads; branded hashtag challenges with shopping integrations; and branded effects.

The branded effects feature, which previously allowed advertisers to use 2D and 3D images for their campaigns, will now offer an augmented reality integration, Puris announced at NewFronts. Branded effects can be used as part of an advertiser’s hashtag challenge campaign.

All major social media platforms have seen a spike during the Covid-19 pandemic due to stay-at-home orders and other restrictions on movement, but TikTok may stand out from the rest. TikTok recently beat records for mobile downloads, according to app analytics firm Sensor Tower, which found that in the first quarter of 2020, it accumulated 315 million installs worldwide across the App Store and Google Play.

Already on an impressive growth trajectory before the pandemic hit, the mostly Gen Z app also accumulated a large swath of millennial users, according to recent Comscore data analyzed by Adweek last month.

One downside to TikTok for marketers has been in measurement capabilities. Media buyers Adweek has spoken to in recent months said that while they are urging many clients to foray onto TikTok, the app lacks the targeting and measurement capabilities of Facebook and Instagram.

During the NewFronts presentation, Blake Chandlee, vp global business solutions for TikTok, addressed that elephant in the room. He said TikTok is doing a lot of “beta-testing” with third-party measurement providers.

“We recognize that for every minute and every dollar you spend with us, it could be spent somewhere else,” Chandlee said. “We have to deliver business impact. We have to deliver business outcomes. And we are in the early stage of that. We are a young company, and we’re getting there.”


@ScottNover scott.nover@adweek.com Scott Nover is a platforms reporter at Adweek, covering social media companies and their influence.
{"taxonomy":"","sortby":"","label":"","shouldShow":""}