The Potential Ban of TikTok: What’s on the Line For Marketers


Will The U.S. Ban TikTok?

On March 23, Tiktok’s Chief Executive Officer Shou Zi Chew appeared before a U.S. House Committee where he was grilled for five hours surrounding the security concerns of the popular short-form video-sharing app. The trial began when results surfaced from an internal investigation released by ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese-based parent company, where it was confirmed four of its employees in China picked up the data of two TikTok accounts belonging to two U.S. journalists.

Since the hearing, U.S. lawmakers continue to heavily weigh the possibility of banning the use of TikTok in America. Representative Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, the Republican chair of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, even told ABC News on March 26th, Chew’s appearance, “actually increased the likelihood that congress will take action.” 

Why Should We Care About a TikTok Ban?

You might think of the TikTok generation as a few dance-obsessed teens, when in actuality, 1 in 3 Americans use the app. Chew even boasted during his trial that the App had achieved 150 million American users, which is up 100 million from the amount it had in 2020. And while the platform is known for its entertainment, niche cultures have formed as a result. From beauty standards and finances to books and music, Tiktok has shaped the way individuals interact, communicate, and understand one another. 

However, more than TikTok’s ability to connect individuals, it’s ability to spread news, and people’s use of it as a source is something to take note of. According to Katerina Eva Matsa, an associate director of research at Pew in a 2022 report: “In just two years, the share of U.S. adults who say they regularly get news from TikTok has roughly tripled, from 3% in 2020 to 10% in 2022.” And if we’re taking into account the millions of TikTok users, 10% is a lot of people and information. 

What Would A TikTok Ban Mean For Marketers?

While the spread of information on an app controlled by a Beijing-based company has the Biden Administration worried, the potential for a ban has marketers scrambling. According to research firm Insider Intelligence, TikTok’s U.S. ad revenue is expected to reach $6.83 billion this year, from $780 million in 2020.” TikTok has become a landscape where many marketers have invested significant amounts of time and money, and while there are uncertainties about the impact a ban would have, many marketers would be sure to take a hit if the government follows through. 

According to a survey conducted by Marketing Dive, 82% of respondents believe a ban would have a moderate to significant impact on social media marketing or advertising objectives, with 70% expecting to expand in other digital channels outside of social media in the event of a ban. And while the big brands might just expand to other platforms, for smaller brands who first became established on TikTok or who can’t afford to lose money to an advertising mishap, the loss of advertising spending could be detrimental to them. 

Which way the tide will turn for the ban of TikTok is still unknown, but Plan B believes staying in the know can help marketers prepare for what’s to come. 

Have any thoughts on the topic? Leave a comment below or on our social pages @thisisplanb.

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