Good News for Advertisers: TikTok is Developing a Curated Content Feed
In many ways, TikTok represents the Wild West of social media where anything goes. That’s why some advertisers have been hesitant to embrace the platform and risk seeing their ads placed among TikTok’s more controversial content. (For example, the social network recently came under fire after an investigation by the BBC revealed that moderators were slow to suspend accounts of sexual predators.) However, TikTok is now working to develop a curated content feed where advertisers can feel better about how their content is placed on the platform.
Similar to SnapChat’s Discover feed, the curated content would be selected by moderators and would consist of original videos from TikTok creators alongside that from professional publishers. This added level of human scrutiny would prevent advertisements from appearing next to controversial posts.
SnapChat vs. TikTok Discover Feeds
The Downside of TikTok’s Meteoric Rise
TikTok has been downloaded over 1.5 billion times worldwide, and it was the 4th most downloaded non-gaming app in 2018. TikTok’s viral success has been a boon for parent company ByteDance, but it’s also brought a lot of scrutiny and criticism.
As with any new app, there’s a learning curve. Balancing on that line between moderation and censorship has been especially difficult for the Chinese company as detractors express concerns over government involvement. In a misguided attempt to curb cyberbullying, TikTok moderators were even advised to cap the reach of videos that featured disabled, overweight, or LGBTQ+ people. However, that policy has since been abolished.
Now, as TikTok aims to grow revenue as quickly as possible, it will have to grapple with the ghosts of its past mistakes.
Does Curated Content Go Against the Spirit of TikTok?
It’s possible that some users may be turned off by TikTok’s attempts to sanitize the app for advertisers.
TikTok is appealing to many because it currently does not just boost popular accounts. While the exact details of TikTok’s algorithm are unknown, users note that popularity does not seem to play a substantial role in whether or not a video goes viral. The quality of the individual video, not the person who uploaded it, is what matters most. That means you don’t need to be famous to succeed. If you put out a high-quality video, you have a shot at becoming a viral sensation. It also means that users’ “For You” feed doesn’t end up clogged with a bunch of bad content from popular accounts.
While a curated stream may slightly undermine that underlying philosophy, it’s worth noting that it will likely be an additional feature, not a replacement. Users will likely have the option to check out top content in a separate feed.
This could serve to keep brands, influencers, and users happy (while, of course, also boosting TikTok’s revenue). Brands get a safe place to display advertisements alongside popular content. Influencers get a space where their content is highlighted and celebrated. And, everyday users get the best of both worlds with a curated stream separate from their normal “For You” feed.
As noted, it will be a challenge to strike that balance between the quirky, untamed social network that users have grown to love and an advertiser-friendly platform where brands feel confident placing their content, but it’s possible. As of now, the TikTok app is far less saturated with ads than competing social networks, and many brands, both big and small, have already seen huge success advertising on the platform, and more success stories are sure to follow.