As it awaits its US fate, TikTok doubles down on its revenue funnel with marketing partners
There’s a big question mark hanging over the future of TikTok right now, in the form of what exactly will happen to its U.S. business come September 20, when President Trump said he plans to shut down the Chinese-owned app over security concerns.
But in the meantime, it seems to be business as usual for the app.
Today, TikTok — which has 100 million users in the U.S. — announced a slate of marketing partners to help brands create and measure the impact of campaigns on the app. The company, owned by ByteDance in China, is kicking off the program with 20 partners that include companies for campaign management (e.g. Sprinklr and Bidalgo); for creative development (e.g. QuickFrame and Shuttlerock); branded effects around VR and AR (e.g. Bare Tree Media and Byte); and measurement (Kantar). The full list is below.
This is the latest expansion of TikTok for Business, the company’s advertising platform, which launched officially in June to bundle together TikTok’s existing marketing products alongside a new AR product it launched to rival Snapchat’s.
TikTok confirmed to us that this is a global initiative — that is, it’s set up to create marketing campaigns for wherever TikTok is available.
And I’m going to be honest. It feels a little like an alternate TikTok reality, like the kind you might see in a split-screen meme on the app itself.
On one side, adding marketing partners is very, very standard for a social media app that’s doubling down on making money through adtech based on its growing and engaged (and young) audience. Facebook (and the apps in its stable like Instagram) did it. Twitter did it. Snapchat did it.
And now TikTok is doing it. It speaks to the company’s ambition to expand its platform to work with the biggest brands and at scale, leveraging its strong audience growth to build advertising units to sell brands and products to them in innovative and sticky ways that are uniquely “TikTok.”
On the other side, of course, TikTok is having anything other than a standard growth trajectory right now.
It’s in the middle of a messy bidding process for ByteDance to sell TikTok’s U.S. assets (along, potentially, with others) to U.S. owners. The company has had to deal with the abrupt departure of its U.S. head. And now the situation seems to be spilling over into speculation over what might happen in other parts of the world, such as India. All of this means that it’s unclear what will happen to marketing relationships, and where advertisers and partners will be left if and when the app has to splinter.
Or indeed, how ad products and other IP would be passed on in a potential sale. (Right now, reportedly, one of the sticking points for a deal has been the possibility that China might limit which algorithms, which form the basis of how TikTok works, would be passed on in a sale.)
“With the launch of TikTok For Business, we’re building new opportunities for marketers to be creative storytellers and meaningfully engage with the TikTok community,” Melissa Yang, head of Ecosystem Partnerships, TikTok, noted in the blog post. “We’re thrilled to collaborate with some of the most strategic and trusted leaders in the advertising industry and continue giving marketers access to more tools to successfully create, measure and optimize ad campaigns on TikTok. We can’t wait to collaborate with partners to bring a creative and joyful experience to our brand partners and the broader TikTok community.”
We asked TikTok if it can comment on how marketing programs like these would be affected if and when the company does split up into regional operations, and it declined to comment specifically. “Unfortunately we’re not able to comment on speculation,” said a spokesperson. “In general we along with our partners are excited to kick off these partnerships and continue bringing more solutions to the marketing community.”
Here’s the full list of partners in the meantime, per TikTok:
Campaign Management to plan, create, optimize and measure marketing campaigns
- Bidalgo – Bidalgo drives growth and reduces user acquisition complexity for mobile marketers, leveraging AI to generate actionable insights and powerful automation capabilities for creative production and media buying.
- BidShake – Empowers fast, efficient and reliable campaign management by enabling real-time, automated cross-channel actions based on aggregated data all from one platform.
- Sprinklr – The world’s leading Customer Experience Management (CXM) platform.
- WinClap – The marketing company that provides advanced AI analytics, expertise and creative production to boost the performance of your campaigns.
- MakeMeReach – Multi-channel ads management platform optimized for scale.
Creative Development to build assets like videos that work on TikTok
- QuickFrame – More than a marketplace connecting brands to video creators. We help businesses grow by transforming the way they produce video content at scale.
- Shuttlerock – Transforms existing brand assets into stunning handcrafted video ads.
- VidMob – Leading creative analytics & post-production platform that uses data to understand your creative, improve your ads and increase marketing performance.
- Vidsy – Helping brands achieve their business goals with effective digital ad creative.
- Cohley – Helps brands and agencies cost effectively scale the creation of UGC videos for ads.
Branded Effects for AR and VR content
- Bare Tree Media – A full-service creative agency enabling brands to reach, engage and entertain consumers through the creation and digital publishing of augmented reality (AR), emojis, messaging stickers and GIFs within popular messaging platforms.
- Byte – Global specialists in branded AR, Byte is a martech agency that combines technology and creativity to help solve brands’ challenges.
- Happy Finish – Global creative production collective studio, creating realities. We specialise in cross-platform services including Retouch, CGI, Animation, VFX, VR, AR & Mixed Reality and Creative AI, and craft experiences for some of the biggest brands and agencies in the world.
- IgniteXR – Ignite XR is an end-to-end creative solutions group for augmented reality, creating integrated AR campaigns for brands and translating ideas into engaging immersive creative experiences.
- Poplar Studio – A global creative platform that makes the creation of 3D and AR campaigns easier, faster, affordable and fun — including face filters, world effects, mini-games, portals and image trackers.
- Subvrsive – Subvrsive is an immersive innovation studio focused on creating content, software and experiences that transform businesses on a global scale.
- Tommy – A modern communications agency that uses technology, strategy and award-winning design to help brands earn the attention of their audiences.
- Unit9 – A production studio focusing on AR/VR, Digital, Experiential, Gaming, Innovation and Film projects.
Measurement to target and analyse campaigns
- Kantar – The world’s leading data, insights and consulting company.
TikTok is opening the program to other interested partners, it said.