TikTok’s Katie Puris Says There’s Too Much Focus on Tactical in Digital Ads Sector

Short-term goals make some work less profound, managing director said at Brandweek

Katie Puris
TikTok's Katie Puris reminds marketers, 'You don’t need to be perfect on TikTok.' Adweek

When it comes to digital advertising, there has been too much focus on the container and not enough on the content, TikTok managing director and global head of business marketing Katie Puris said during a Brandweek session Wednesday.

Puris didn’t provide any details on the elephant in the room for the company (a Brandweek presenting sponsor)—the status of its “trusted technology partner” agreement with Oracle—only saying, “I read all of the same news that you read and everyone else reads, as well.”

She did, however, offer gratitude for the support that the video creation platform has received from its community, as well as “brands and agencies rallying around TikTok.”

Puris discussed the digital ad sector as a whole, saying that there is too much focus on performance metrics and not enough on the actual work.

“If we are skipping the very craft, the very work within our own industry, why should other people care?” she asked.

With new opportunities, ad units and containers complicating the process, Puris sees more focus on the tactic and the container, and not as much on the content.

The availability of more and more data has sharpened marketers’ short-term focus, and she believes this “makes the work less meaningful, less profound, less memorable.”

TikTok was a newcomer at the 2020 Digital Content NewFronts in June, and the theme of its presentation was, “Don’t make ads: Make TikToks.”

Puris expanded on that theme, saying at Brandweek, “There’s so much to learn as a marketer just by simply being on the platform, watching people, listening to their stories and understanding how craft works on the platform.”

She added that the TikTok community welcomes brands, giving marketers an equal voice, and the full-screen, sound-on format in the application means that “people are completely immersed.”

“Tactics aside, it’s so important for a marketer to get back to their core, their values, what they believe in,” Puris said. “People will participate with your brand executions and create their own commercials—they very much celebrate brands. You don’t need to be perfect on TikTok, but you do need to be who you are. Know who you are and leverage that to fuel how you show up.”

Puris wrapped her session with three key takeaways for marketers looking to hitch a ride on the TikTok bandwagon:

  • Consumer behaviors have changed. A lot of this has been fueled by Covid-19. The expectations for how people connect have changed. People want realness.
  • Get back to great storytelling and storytelling over time. Look at TikTok as an opportunity to really be strategic and don’t think about it as a tactic.
  • Don’t divert, don’t create a separate experience: Be a part of the flow.

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.