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PMG Digital Made for Humans

TikTok Catapults to the Top as #1 Social App Among Gen Z

2 MINUTE READ | April 14, 2022

TikTok Catapults to the Top as #1 Social App Among Gen Z

Investment bank Piper Sandler’s semi-annual survey of American teens was released this week, confirming what many advertisers already knew to be true: TikTok is the #1 social app among teens, officially eclipsing Snapchat for the first time. Despite the release of countless copycat short-form video features by rival platforms over the last few years, TikTok’s growing popularity and influence on culture show no signs of slowing down. Advertiser interest in the platform is skyrocketing in parallel, as global advertising revenue is estimated to triple to over $11 billion this year, surpassing the ad revenue of Snap and Pinterest combined. 

According to eMarketer, half of all TikTok ad revenue will come from U.S. advertisers as the app continues to gain on more established social platforms in the market. TikTok's revenue is forecast to reach $23.58 billion by 2024, nearly tying with YouTube’s ad business. Coincidentally, App Annie reported late last year that TikTok officially overtook YouTube in U.S. average watch time as users watched over 24 hours of content per month, compared with 22 hours and 40 minutes on YouTube. According to the Guardian, TikTok surpassed one billion users in 2021, four years after its global launch, and in under half the time it took Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram. It’s been predicted that TikTok would reach 1.5 billion monthly active users this year.

“TikTok’s user base has exploded in the past couple of years, and the amount of time users spend on the app is extraordinary,” said Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst at Insider Intelligence. “It has moved beyond its roots as a lip-syncing and dancing app… [creating] trends and [fostering] deep connections with creators that keep users engaged, video after video.” 

As TikTok continues to invest in its Creator Fund to support a new generation of creators, and social commerce features for brands to sell directly in-app, the app’s algorithm maintains a laser focus on populating relevant videos to keep users more engaged. For brands, these product developments translate into better access to the TikTok audience, which in turn, drives brand awareness and offline sales. According to Ad Age, to date, the hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt now has over 10.7 billion views. Separating it from competitors are TikTok’s social commerce features, which are rather unique and, in part, responsible for fueling advertiser interest as the capabilities connect brands with creators to help develop authentic brand storytelling opportunities.

The TikTok team maintains that for brands to succeed on the platform, they need to make TikToks, not ads, as unique creative and engaging personalities via in-app talent serve as cornerstones to TikTok’s global success. Last summer, the “TikTok made me buy it” craze took the world by storm, with brands utilizing tactics like Live Shopping and creator partnerships to help products fly off shelves. Recent collaborations with Shopify and Walmart support the popular theory TikTok aims to be a true shopping destination and leader in social commerce. 

“Influencer content has proved to be a critical component to any brand’s paid social strategy on TikTok,” said Danielle Dirkx, social account supervisor at PMG. “Through strategic talent identification and paid amplification, brands have the opportunity to reinvent their brand voice and how they engage with users in a way other platforms aren’t able to match. Influencer marketing is definitely on the rise overall, but has emerged as a core component that can drive impact on TikTok.” 

For advertisers eager to test into the platform, it’s important to remember that TikTok burst onto the scene nearly ten years after Facebook, meaning the platform has a lot of catching up to do to match competitors’ sophistication. TikTok auction capabilities are still limited relative to the competitor set, and high-impact units like Hashtag challenges and one-day TopView Takeovers can come at a premium price. 

“While TikTok ad auction capabilities are still limited compared to other platforms, the speed at which TikTok is making updates and improvements to the TikTok ads manager matches the rate at which TikTok took off in popularity, which was insanely fast,” said Dirkx. “Currently, TikTok is a strong player for mass reach and awareness support, but TikTok could soon match Facebook in full-funnel impact with the recent addition and continuous improvements to TikTok’s dynamic offerings.” 

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Investment bank Piper Sandler’s semi-annual survey of American teens was released this week, confirming what many advertisers already knew to be true: TikTok is the #1 social app among teens, officially eclipsing Snapchat for the first time. Despite the release of countless copycat short-form video features by rival platforms over the last few years, TikTok’s growing popularity and influence on culture show no signs of slowing down. Advertiser interest in the platform is skyrocketing in parallel, as global advertising revenue is estimated to triple to over $11 billion this year, surpassing the ad revenue of Snap and Pinterest combined. 


Posted by Abby Long