The most hotly anticipated debut at this year’s Cannes Lions festival will be TikTok, a Chinese viral video app that is plotting a raid on the advertising dollars flowing to Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube.
The app, which has now been downloaded more than 1bn times according to third-party estimates, will address advertisers from the main stages, where Stefan Heinrich, its US brand director is speaking, and in a series of invitation-only roundtables.
Owned by the $75bn private Chinese company ByteDance, TikTok lets users watch, create and share quick-fire videos, usually set to pop music, of anything from dances to songs to make-up tutorials. It has become hugely popular with younger users, and is now attracting the attention of brands including Burberry and Pretty Little Thing.
TikTok由估值750亿美元的中国民营企业字节跳动(ByteDance)所有，其用户可以观看、创建和分享短视频，这些短视频通常配有流行音乐，囊括舞蹈、歌曲、美妆教程等各种内容。这款应用非常受年轻用户的青睐，目前也吸引了博柏利(Burberry)及Pretty Little Thing等品牌的关注。
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“It’s a platform that has spiked the interest of a lot of advertisers not just because of their scale but also because of the type of volumes they have: Generation Z,” said Simona Marmina, senior director of paid social at WPP’s Mindshare.
Until now, TikTok has kept its strategy under wraps, as it focused on building its audience, often advertising on rival platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram. “TikTok is playing a customer acquisition [game] right now — driving engagement around the product,” said Greg Bettinelli, a partner at LA-based Upfront Ventures.
These include standard vertical video ads typically offered by rivals such as Instagram, ads that splash across the screen before the main content feed loads and branded camera filters, similar to those available on Snapchat.
Another novel advertising format known as a “hashtag challenge”, where advertisers can attempt to start their own viral video campaign, has been generating plenty of interest, according to two people in the industry.
“It is a new digital creative canvas that we can play with that allows for totally new ideas that weren’t possible before . . .[including] new ways to blend in,” said Kris Hoet, global head of innovation at ad agency Foote, Cone & Belding.
“TikTok only has a subset of the features of its sister app in China,” said Connie Chan, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, in a blog post. “A larger focus on livestreaming and ecommerce give creators financial incentives to broadcast and create great content through these mechanisms. So, it will be interesting to see how TikTok evolves on the social front.”
TikTok would not confirm details of its ads offering but a spokesperson said that it was “exploring a variety of opportunities for brand partners” and that the most successful brands were embracing “the creativity and authenticity of the TikTok community”.
例句：The authenticity of her story is beyond doubt. 她讲述的事情的真实性不容置疑。
Meanwhile, the company has been hiring tech and media veterans as it builds its business.
Earlier this year, it brought in Ms Pappas, YouTube’s former global head of creative insights, as its first general manager in the US, while Sameer Singh, former chief executive of South Asia at global media investment firm Group M, was recently tapped for the position of vice-president of monetisation in India.
It also appointed Mr Chandlee, Facebook’s first employee in Europe and its former vice-president of global partnerships, last month to a vice-president role overseeing business strategy in the Americas and Emea.
One hurdle to its expansion is the lack of a platform where advertisers can buy and track ads online, said analysts and advertisers. Advertisers currently have to seek information from TikTok’s sales team.
“That will definitely be something that opens the door to other opportunities for them,” Ms Marmina said, adding that TikTok has “limited” metrics around the performance of ads. But the company intends to introduce these “self-serve” tools this year, she added.
Other critics pointed to the youth of TikTok’s user base and whether they will prove a fickle audience. “There’s a lot of challenges in terms of the short nature of the content . . . and very young consumers,” said Rich Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG. “The further you age down, the harder it is to monetise.”
TikTok has also battled with regulators over safety concerns, particularly because of its audience. The app was banned temporarily in India, one of its largest markets, in April over allegations that it was “degrading culture and encouraging pornography”.