TikTok has gone a long way from being just a testing ground for mobile marketers. For a while now, TikTok has been one of the key ad networks for attracting new users.
But, there has always been some debate surrounding it.
Mainly about how it handles data.
These concerns have recently resurfaced and are now a mainstream topic. Governments all over the world are considering banning TikTok, and some have already applied restrictions.
This is potentially alarming news for mobile marketers, especially for those who heavily invest in TikTok advertising.
What’s all this fuss about the TikTok ban? What would it really mean for mobile marketers?
Let’s answer all the questions you may have.
TikTok’s Advertising Business
How big is TikTok for mobile advertising business right now?
The numbers say it all.
TikTok became a global sensation during the 2020 pandemic. This was also the year when the app launched its ad platform. It didn’t take long for marketers to get on board with TikTok’s viral trends, challenges, etc.
The platform’s ad revenue has been on a growth spurt ever since.
In 2023, it is expected to reach $6 billion, which is roughly 300% more than in 2020. The predictions for the future are equally optimistic — by 2026, TikTok’s ad revenue is predicted to hit $14 billion (Statista).
TikTok’s ad business has even managed to defy global inflation.
Even though the overall social ad spending declined in 2022, TikTok’s ad spending increased by 20% in the first three quarters of 2022 (Digiday).
Does this powerful business have the power to resist the ban threats as well?
Here’s all you need to know about the potential ban.
The Potential TikTok Ban
TikTok is at risk of a ban because of serious concerns over the app’s security and privacy.
The governments of multiple countries view TikTok as a threat to national security. They believe the app could be used by the Chinese government to spy on users and to distribute harmful content via its mighty algorithm.
Meanwhile, ByteDance is working hard to persuade the US government that TikTok isn’t a threat to national security.
To argue against the ban, TikTok’s CEO recently gave a five-hour-long testimony before the US Congress.
He has denied all allegations, saying: “Let me state this unequivocally: ByteDance is not an agent of China or any other country”.
Which Countries Are Restricting TikTok
Despite TikTok’s arguments, the list of countries that have taken certain actions against TikTok is constantly growing. This includes the US, the UK, EU institutions, France, India, Taiwan, and many others.
In most of these countries, the app has been banned on government devices. Others, such as India, have a nationwide TikTok ban.
Due to its influence, the biggest fuss about the ban comes from the US.
The US president is threatening to introduce a countrywide ban if the Chinese parent company behind TikTok, ByteDance, doesn’t sell its stake.
Planning for a TikTok Ban
Speculating about a TikTok ban seems quite abstract, but what if it actually happens? What would this mean for users and marketers? How about a ban in a country advertisers are not focusing on?
Let’s go over some possible scenarios.
At the moment, advertisers don’t seem too concerned about the potential TikTok ban.
Capterra conducted a survey on this among marketers, and these are some of its most interesting findings:
- 56% of marketers believe it’s unlikely that the U.S. government will ban TikTok
- 3 in 4 marketers plan to increase their TikTok ad spending over the next year
- 82% of respondents say the ban would have a moderate to big impact on their advertising goals
One of the main reasons U.S. marketers are skeptical about the ban is that these discussions have dragged on for years already. Because nothing happened during all this time, they believe they won’t need to change their TikTok spending plans.
But What If?
If the TikTok ban actually comes into force, 70% of marketers say they plan to diversify their advertising strategies (Capterra).
Where do they plan to expand?
They listed Facebook (80%) and Youtube (79%) as their primary choices. On top of that, they plan to focus on digital channels beyond social media. For example, email, search, or video.
Of course, things are different for each marketing branch.
Naturally, app marketers would need to focus on what works best for them. For example, if they had success with short-form video formats on TikTok, they might want to focus on platforms that offer similar formats. For example, Instagram Reels, Youtube Shorts, and Snapchat Spotlight.
What Makes TikTok So Special?
One of the reasons TikTok is so popular among mobile marketers is that it helps them reach audiences that don’t use other social media platforms.
For example, 40% of TikTok users don’t have Facebook accounts (Sproutsocial).
This is mainly Gen Z, the so-called TikTok generation.
Gen Z is an incredibly important audience for mobile app marketers. They are vivid mobile gamers and the biggest audience by mobile game consumer spending.
Therefore, it’s important to follow them wherever they go. If TikTok actually gets banned, it would be a logical move to focus on Snapchat and Instagram, their other two favorite social networks.
The Bloom of TikTok Alternatives
All this talk about the TikTok ban has naturally resulted in a discussion about possible TikTok alternatives.
One thing is for sure — users will go wherever content creators go.
And mobile marketers will tag along.
This has already happened in India, where TikTok has been banned since the end of 2020.
According to Statista, after the ban, the majority of Indian users (62%) shifted to Instagram Reels. It is followed by two apps created as TikTok alternatives, Cheez (59%) and Roposo (54%).
Outside of India, there are some other TikTok alternatives that are gaining traction.
One of them is Triller, a short-form video platform that is actively pursuing TikTok content creators. In exchange for joining this platform, it offers them cash awards, partnerships, and other perks.
Another short-form video creation app that is rising in popularity is Likee. This app is owned by BIGO, which has already proven effective for mobile advertising. BIGO has ranked high on the prestigious AppsFlyer Growth Index, along with other rising ad networks like MAF (formerly myAppFree).
What Would a Ban in One Country Mean for Others?
The TikTok ban occurs in the U.S.
But, you’re only focused on the European market. Should you even care about the ban and why?
If a major country like the U.S. bans TikTok, this would undoubtedly result in consequences for other markets.
The thing is, the U.S. is home to a big number of popular content creators.
If they were to switch to other platforms, it’s almost certain that their followers from all around the world would follow. Because of this, mobile marketers would need to head to the same platforms as the users and the content creators.
Key TikTok Ban Strategies for Mobile Marketers
At the moment, TikTok restrictions are shrouded in uncertainty, so marketers aren’t making any definitive decisions just yet.
Most mobile marketers have taken a wait-and-see approach to manage their TikTok ad budgets. In case something happens, they should have a strategy in place. Some options they have at their disposal are:
- Shifting to short-form video formats by established social media channels (Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, etc)
- Exploring other apps built as TikTok alternatives
- Not focusing all advertising efforts on TikTok, but diversifying ad channels
What About Influencers?
Besides marketers, influencers are also becoming quite worried about the future of TikTok. Their accounts drive consumer decisions, and mobile marketers know their worth.
TikTok influencers set and follow trends, and usually promote different brands.
They often do this just for the money, which has started to annoy a lot of people. For this reason, a new trend was born — deinfluencing.
Essentially, deinfluencing is a move where creators tell their followers why not to use a certain product. This way, they are promoting authenticity and honesty over paid partnerships.
Mobile marketers have already started using this trend to make their apps look good in comparison to the competitors.
In case of a ban, this trend will probably expand to other platforms, so we advise app marketers to consider using it — despite what happens with TikTok.
Are You Concerned About a Potential TikTok Ban?
Now that we’ve laid out all the facts about the TikTok ban and its potential impact on mobile advertising, we want to hear your opinion.
Do you think the ban is going to happen? If so, do you have an escape plan?
Drop a comment on LinkedIn and let us know. Meanwhile, subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated on all things mobile marketing!