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TikTok’s days in the U.S. may be ticking down. On April 24, President Biden signed into law bipartisan legislation that gives the social media giant’s Chinese-based owner ByteDance until January 19, 2025 to sell TikTok or face a ban.

Yes, these developments represent an historic manifestation of how global politics and national security will continue to clash in an increasingly online and interconnected society. But let’s dodge that rabbit hole to focus on a more tangible and timely question… 

How will advertisers like you achieve their goals without TikTok advertising?

TikTok boasts 150 million U.S. users, and more than 52% of users worldwide are between the ages of 18 and 24, as of January. With such access to the next generation of consumers, it’s no wonder brands spent nearly $4 billion on TikTok ads in 2023. While pundits debate the likelihood that such a culturally influential entity could disappear come January, smart advertisers will plan ahead. 

Let’s dive into our three-step experiment-led digital advertising strategy to de-risk a TikTok ban and realize untapped potential.

1. Test into alternative platforms poised to claim TikTok’s displaced users. 

The digital advertising duopoly of Google and Meta are well situated to capitalize on TikTok’s woes. 

Meta launched Reels in 2020 to directly mimic the functionality of – and compete with – TikTok, and the product gained traction. Meta Reels drove more views than TikTok, according to a recent study. Meanwhile, Google’s YouTube, the second most used search engine in the world (after Google itself), also touts a rapidly growing TikTok clone, YouTube Shorts. Shorts averaged over 70 billion views per day in 2023.

If Google and Meta’s TikTok alternatives already exist in your media mix, give careful consideration to smaller platforms and the new iterative platforms inevitably coming. 

We encourage our clients to maintain a dedicated testing media spend budget to enable systematic identification of growth opportunities like this one. Test budgets and performance expectations for this spend are treated separately from the primary media spend budget and are often approximately 10% of spend.

2. Scale winning experiments by reallocating spend.

Upon finding a winning experiment on an alternative platform, reallocate primary budget spend from under-performing TikTok campaigns to sustain and steadily scale the winner. 

Your objective is to boost program performance, diversify your placements, and stay ahead of your competitors – not to sacrifice what’s working on TikTok today. Determine which campaign investments to reallocate from TikTok based on your unique performance and goals; if you have a paid media agency, they should be able to provide a data-backed prioritization. To further reduce risk, take a laddered approach to reallocating your budget, rather than making quick, dramatic changes.

Oh, and don’t forget to keep the experimentation cycle spinning by exploring another opportunity with your dedicated testing budget!

3. Flip the switch (as needed) come TikTok ban.

If the TikTok ban occurs, advertisers who already built like-for-like performance campaigns on other platforms will be well-situated to weather the loss and capture market share from unprepared competitors. 

If TikTok circumvents the ban, experiment-led advertisers like you will continue to reap the benefits of the platform as well as a more diverse, flexible, and scalable digital advertising program.

What actions are you already taking to prepare for TikTokmageddon? If you want to share or learn more about our recommended approach, send me a message and let’s chat. We can also perform a complimentary opportunity analysis for your digital advertising program to identify optimizations and prioritize budget reallocations.

Example summary dashboard of a Cro Metrics Paid Media Opportunity Analysis.