pic @solenfeyissa on Unsplash

1. It’s big

TikTok, freshly formed from incubation with a user group of 440 million in China, is a tantalising representation of the new global ‘geotechpolitical’(is that a word?) landscape emerging. For most of the internet’s history, US companies (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix) were all when it came to global adoption. This is no longer the case. TikTok’s video app, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is the fastest growing consumer platform and the most downloaded app in 2020. In the US, the company is quickly learning to adapt to American tastes, behaviours and legislators. As regulators begin to work out how they can knuckle down on big tech, TikTok is playing a delicate game as a less toxic alternative. Its global reach is, undoubtedly, phenomenal.

2. It’s popular

TikTok is all about popular culture. Advertisers LOVE to be associated with popular culture. Of course fame costs, but you can buy it right here. Content is more ‘scrappy normal’ than Instagram’s polished selfie world, and it’s pretty easy to make a TikTok with friendly ‘no code’ creator tools. Memes arise out of nowhere, and content cuts across a whole range of stories and topics of the weird and wonderful. Who would have imagined #seashantytok taking off, Ratatouille The Musical being such huge hit or yet more Bieber dance efforts getting such traction? Even the Travoltas are getting in on the act.

It’s a pretty bad commercial, but you see what I mean.

3. It’s going to make a lot of money

But for who, exactly? TikTok is putting proverbial tanks on the lawn of its Silicon Valley rivals with the latest round of advertiser offers. It’s soon to introduce a tool to let the most popular creators link directly to product pages, and earn a commission, affiliate style. It’s considering a self serve ad sales model (cf Facebook ad manager) to allow it to scale up. Next will come e-commerce livestreams and a partnership with Canadian unicorn Shopify to make it real. It’s even hired Blake Chandlee, ex Yahoo and Facebook who knows how to cut an advertiser deal or two.

Blake Chandlee with some other people at Cannes 2008. Yours truly on the left.
Algorithmic Valentine’s special. A celeb, a talking product, Boots shopping page. What more could your average Gen X want?




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Alastair Duncan

Alastair Duncan

20+ years helping brands grow. I like Hackney and start ups. Agency of the year founder; Digital Hot 100; Cannes Lion winner etc etc.