TikTok, which has achieved rapid growth with the potential to be used by 1 billion people worldwide, is also making a name for itself in the business field.
TikTok, which has been enjoyed mainly for entertainment videos, has diversified in the user base and content over the past few years, and is being used globally by companies and brands regardless of scale or industry. In the digital advertising market where various formats compete for supremacy, its presence is increasing more and more.
Another big reason for the leap forward in the advertising field is that “TikTok is a platform that can provide the joy and happiness that people want, and its uniqueness creates an opportunity to start dialogue with brands.” Sam Shin, Vice President of Global Business Solutions, APAC at TikTok for Business. What kind of uniqueness does TikTok demonstrate in advertising, which Mr. Sam, who has been in the advertising industry for many years, compares as ‘a big change that doesn’t happen so often’? What kind of value will it bring to the Japanese digital advertising market? I spoke with him when he came to Japan.
—Sam has a long career and achievements in the advertising industry, but first, please tell us about your career so far and how you joined TikTok.
For more than 30 years, I have worked in various countries such as Dubai in the Middle East, Europe, the United States, and China, but my career started on the client side, such as P&G and GlaxoSmithKline. The next step was to move to a global digital platform, an agency. In a nutshell, I’ve worked with clients, agencies, and platforms in the advertising industry, so I’ve been able to see things from multiple perspectives.
As for why I joined TikTok, when I was working at an agency, I had the opportunity to speak with TikTok employees several times, but at that time I had no particular thoughts of moving to TikTok. But over time, I started getting more and more inquiries about TikTok from clients, which made me want to learn more about TikTok. In addition, when I talk to TikTok’s CEO and executives, I realize that the emergence of new formats like TikTok, which uses short-form videos, is a big change that doesn’t happen very often. . TikTok got a lot of media attention, and this format deserves it. This thought prompted him to join TikTok.
–Did you feel that the change TikTok brought about was that big?
On a slightly macro level, I believe there were three phases in media before TikTok came along.
The first stage is situational awareness and context.Age of contextNewspapers are a typical medium. For example, if you want to get information about sports, read the sports column. If you are interested in movies, read the movie introduction page, and if you want to know about overseas current affairs, read that page. Each piece of information is in its own context, and without knowledge of that context, you can’t get the information you need. To put it the other way around, you can only get information if you know the context.
and the second step isage of knowledge. With search engines like Google, you can find the information you need without knowing what context you want to know or check.
the third issocial ageis. We all have social connections with many people, including family, friends, co-workers, and former alumni. Then, instead of actively seeking information about yourself, you will be exposed to what you have seen and experienced through social media, and that will be the driving force behind your consumption. Here, you don’t need to do your own searches, let alone knowledge of the context.
And the fourth is that TikTok is showing explosive growth right now.Age of contentis. At this stage, the content is based on your interests rather than what your friends like. Users don’t have to search for specific contextual pages to find the content they want to read. You don’t have to search for the information you need or look for connections with anyone. In other words, it can be said that we have entered an era in which users come to find users from the content side through apps, rather than users searching for content.
I think there have been many changes to get here. For example, today we are flooded with an enormous amount of information that reaches people’s eyes and ears. However, for many people, time is finite, and the ability to concentrate on information does not last long. For example, looking back about 15 years ago, people thought that a 30-minute TV program was long, and a 2-minute long video was a short video. But these days, two minutes is already long, and what’s called short is a video in a 15-second format like TikTok. In this way, the way people think about the media is changing. People are very efficient when it comes to viewing content and interacting with others. That’s why I favor the shorter TikTok format. We are entering such an era.
Sam Shin(Sam Singh) / TikTok for Business Vice President of Global Business Solutions, APAC. In his nearly 30-year career, he pioneered innovative marketing and advertising solutions. He has held key leadership positions at Google, GlaxoSmithKline, Procter & Gamble, and IPG. Prior to joining TikTok for Business, he served as Chief Executive Officer for South Asia at GroupM, a major advertising agency, where he spearheaded the business by providing clients with digital leadership and a competitive advantage in content. Incumbent since 2019. I am from India.
— As you say, I feel that “short length” is a demand of the times. So, other than that, what was the point that TikTok was able to achieve explosive expansion?
TikTok’s slogan is “INSPIRE CREATIVITY AND BRING JOY”. To achieve this, TikTok is designed so that anyone can easily create and share original short video content without the need for special techniques or tools. And the video occupies the entire mobile screen, plays with sound on, and engages the viewer with full attention. As a result, people who were previously just watching content will react to what they see and create and share their own videos. In this way, it can be said that TikTok has expanded greatly.
Another point is that the design and functionality of the app should be mobile-first. Many applications and platforms are designed based on the PC, and it is necessary to change the specifications from there to a vertical design for mobile. But TikTok has been optimized for mobile from the start, making it easier to use and easier for new users to get on board. I think that is one of the reasons why we were able to achieve such dramatic growth.
— Certainly, I have the impression that TikTok makes it easy to create video content. By the way, when it comes to content categories, I get the impression that there are a lot of entertainment-related content, but what is the actual situation?
Certainly, in the beginning, in many cases, entertainment content such as music and dance was shared and spread. However, over the past few years, the number of users has expanded both qualitatively and quantitatively, and as a result, TikTok’s user base has come to reflect the diversity of society. Looking at the age groups, the composition is becoming more balanced. Along with that, not only people with special skills such as music and dance, but also anyone can participate and use, and the content itself has diversified. In addition to music and dance, the genre has expanded to include anime, games, and manga, and more recently, educational videos, self-development, travel recommendations, and videos introducing tools useful for baby care.
@01310mu All the colors are nice and cute!! Which color is your type??✨ #Lipmonster ♬ Lipmonster – KATE
–What kind of impact does the spread of content have on TikTok as an advertising platform?
Over the last four years, we believe that the number of users, user demographics, and breadth of content has grown, making us even more attractive to clients.
In fact, TikTok advertising has attracted interest and many inquiries from clients in all industries, including beauty, beauty-related, fashion, general consumer goods, automobiles, and fintech. In terms of partnerships, we have received requests from all major and influential agencies to build relationships with us. In this way, TikTok advertising is expanding rapidly in Japan and other countries. In particular, the speed of increase in the number of clients is remarkable, increasing fivefold in the past year. Clients range in size from large enterprises to small and medium-sized businesses, and each client has a different primary marketing objective and requirement. For the upper funnel, there are requests to expand user reach and deepen engagement, and for the lower funnel, there are requests to improve acquisition rates, app download rates, and optimize retargeting. Advertising has a full-funnel solution.
–From the client side’s point of view, the last few years have seen a strong demand for improved advertising quality. What is TikTok doing in this regard?
What we are focusing on is so-called brand safety. We carefully scrutinize content for brand appropriateness. And even if there is no problem in other countries, if there is content that becomes a problem in a specific country, we will take solid measures to prevent critical situations from occurring. It’s designed to ensure that the right ads reach the right audiences, every time.
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–How will you approach the Japanese market?
Naturally, the first priority is to make a profit as a business. Japan is the first market TikTok has entered as it expands its business globally. It is one of the world’s leading countries economically, yet culturally very sophisticated and evolving at the same time. It’s a dynamic, highly dynamic market. Japan is a very important market for us.
And the members of the Japanese team are very capable and talented people, just like the rest of the world. We will continue to focus on the Japanese market.
–Specifically, what would you like to focus on?
Marketing-related requirements from clients remain the same on a global level. I want to connect with consumers, I want to expand my reach and expand the scale of my business, and I want to invest in media with a high ROI. That is common in every country. However, there are differences due to the unique cultural and economic conditions in each country’s market. Regarding the Japanese market, I am thinking of the following.
For brands, we dive deep into specific industries to provide customized solutions, best practices, trends and insights for their needs. The categories we are considering to focus on include games, e-commerce, consumer goods (CPG), and media & entertainment.
Measuring advertising effectiveness is also important. Building the right solutions to help brands measure impact and make more cost-effective decisions. We work with partners like Nielsen and Kantar to measure the impact of campaigns on TikTok and use that to help companies achieve better results.
Regarding creatives, we have built an ecosystem of partners in Japan that can meet the needs of our clients, and we strive to create the most reliable environment for brands based on safety, transparency, and accountability in terms of securing advertising quality. To go.
–There are social platforms that incorporate specifications similar to TikTok, but how do you perceive the competition?
Frankly, we don’t have any competitors or peers. Because the uniqueness of our platform stands out in every way. For example, just taking the point of interaction with the user, as I mentioned earlier, there is a mechanism that the content finds the user instead of the user looking for the content. With this alone, I think you can understand that TikTok is not a so-called social media or social platform.
One thing I want to emphasize about our track record so far is that TikTok is a highly engaged and actionable platform. While watching short videos, users try to interact with them by commenting on the videos and posting new videos.
And there are many users who feel JOY through such interactions. Today, more than ever, there is a need to find joy and to be happy in one’s life. Looking back over the past few years, society has been in turmoil and economic uncertainty has arisen. People want happiness. TikTok is a platform that can provide the happiness that these people are looking for, and at the same time, its uniqueness makes it easy to provide opportunities to start dialogue with brands.
In fact, TikTok ads have made remarkable achievements in measuring advertising effectiveness as well. It delivers outstanding ROI results compared to other platforms in the industry. A study by Nielsen also revealed that TikTok advertising achieves 1.6 times higher ROAS than other platforms (Source: Nielsen “Marketing Mix Modeling (MMM) Survey_Japan”, 2022 July).
–In the Japanese market, TikTok advertising seems to have room for further growth, but planning and strategies to maximize the effectiveness of TikTok advertising for digital marketers of Japanese companies who want to advertise If you have any advice on how to set it up, please let me know.
First of all, I would like to convey to Japanese companies and brand digital marketers that our platform is open and welcoming.
One thing I want you to know is that TikTok as a platform is constantly changing. What was right yesterday may be denied today. Over time, the TikTok platform has continued to change. With that in mind, I would like you to think about what kind of video you should use and what kind of message you should deliver.
Another important thing is that scale is extremely important when choosing a platform. If you want results, you need some scale.
TikTok is not a small platform where innovation accumulates small changes. It is the type of platform that expands the scale at once. Precisely because of such a platform, there are a huge number of users who have a keen sense of video. Brands that are adept at storytelling with video will have a better chance of succeeding because they are sending messages to such users.
Again, TikTok is a full-screen, always-on-music platform dedicated to short-form videos that engage users strongly. We would like you to create content and advertisements suitable for this platform and lead to success.
Sponsored by TikTok for Business
Written by DIGIDAY Brand STUDIO (Masashi Takiguchi)
Photo by Yukikazu Watanabe