In the Press: 'Advertisers ask if it's worth the risk': users flock to troubled TikTok, but will brands?

by Angus McLean, Director of Digital
Thursday, August 1, 2019

TikTok became the first Chinese social media app to be the most downloaded in the US. But it hasn't all been smooth sailing. In fact, TikTok's data and safety protocols have attracted international scrutiny. These troubles haven't seriously affected user growth yet but could impact brands considering the platform. In February, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued it a fine of $5.7m. It cited predecessor app Music.ly's "disturbing practices, including collecting and exposing the location" of children. It said “a significant percentage of users were younger than 13" and identifiable information like age, birthday and school was visible. The UK Information Commission is currently running a similar probe.

Angus McLean, director of digital at marketing and media consultancy Ebiquity says TikTok is improving its brand safety policies and guidelines and that it has a chance to:

learn from those that have come before and stand on the shoulders of giants. It is facing all the same challenges of rapid growth and the need to scale technology, people and policies while building a business. Challenges around privacy, content moderation, misuse of the platform by sexual predators, drug dealers, and teen bullying are not new and are still faced by Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube daily."

On the additional scrutiny due to the young userbase, McLean said:

Even though it has a 13+ policy, any parent or teacher knows that is not the case in reality. To pretend otherwise is irresponsible." MediaKix data said that 60% of TikTok’s monthly app users are between 16-24 years old.

Ebiquity's recent brand safety report found that 65% of the UK’s top 100 advertisers had run ads in potentially non-brand safe environments.

 

To find out more, read our Brand Safety in the UK: Willing to risk it? A report on Brand Safety and advertiser preference, here.

To read the article in full in The Drum, please click here.

First featured on 31/07/2019.

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