What’s making TikTok tick?


As its breakout stars storm the charts and newspapers of repute join its ranks, it’s fast becoming clear that you can no longer ignore TikTok. But is the short-form mobile video app a surefire fixture or a passing fad? Our Paid Media Manager, Zeb Smith, heard you were looking for an explanation…

Tik what?
TikTok is the love child of Musical.ly and Vine. It’s a 15-second video focused platform that allows users to overlay sound or special effects on top of their video (essentially, lip syncing), while also providing them with the opportunity to engage with other users videos through participating in ‘duets’.

The app isn’t just making waves amongst its 500 million global users, with trending memes and challenges crossing over to YouTube and Twitter, where hundreds of reaction and compilation videos revel in the best and the worst memes on TikTok.

At the time of writing, some in the former camp are, ‘You was in the club‘, ‘I heard you bitches were looking for me‘ and ‘Clown check‘, all of which are now likely declining in popularity as a result of the platform’s high video consumption rates.

What’s happening in Australia?
Australia and New Zealand aren’t immune from the global phenomenon. TikTok boasts 1.4 million monthly active users in the region, driving 1.6 billion video views every month. Though that audience pales in comparison with Facebook’s 16 million, Instagram’s 9.7 million, Snapchat’s 6.4 million and Twitter’s 2.6 million monthly active users, it’s nothing to be sniffed at. Data from TikTok indicates that each of its 1.4 million monthly users amasses a whopping 1,300 video views and an average watch time of 46+ minutes, suggesting that the platform is the perfect place for content binging thanks to its sole focus on vertical video and sophisticated AI driving its content recommendation algorithm.

Beyond the growing local user base there is a lot of talent popping up, like Olivia Plant, who has racked up one million followers already, or parkour pro Nick Rowley and his 760K (and quickly rising) followers. There’s a great opportunity to partner with emerging talent to get in front of audiences that aren’t necessarily spending the bulk of their time on Instagram.

Who else is using it? And what opportunities exist for advertisers?
The audience on TikTok isn’t just young teens, as many publications are asserting. Whilst TikTok data confirms there’s a huge audience base of 16-24 year olds, 25-44 year olds account for a further 25% of audiences. When you consider the younger skew of the platform, combined with Facebook’s decreasing youth audience which is causing internal restructures, the platform’s trajectory becomes, undeniably, one to watch.

But are advertisers actually going to use the platform? In short, yes. TikTok is now an approved app within the Audience Networks placement, meaning Facebook ads can appear on TikTok when selected. Unfortunately, self-serve isn’t quite ready yet, with agencies and brands likely having to wait until Q4 for the scheduled rollout. Fortunately, direct brand take-overs, challenges and other opportunities are available directly with a $10K minimum – similar to Snapchat’s initial offering – in order to get in the market.

The platform’s growth is extremely interesting, offering advertisers an alternative platform with a captive audience. TikTok’s rise in Australia and New Zealand suggests that it may very well overtake Twitter’s position, making it a potential rival to Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat in the long run.