TikTok, the short-form video app from Bytedance, has grown increasing popular among video creators, ad agencies and tech employees and publishers are also jumping on the band wagon with many using it a a way to extend content.
TikTok, like Snapchat in its early days, is a new way for publishers to reach young consumers.
According to TikTok’s pitch deck to U.S. agencies, about 60% of its monthly active users in the U.S. are between 16 and 24 years old.
Also like Snapchat, users are heavily engaged with the app, spending 46 minutes per day on TikTok, on average. While TikTok doesn’t have a way for publishers to directly monetize on the app, such as through sharing ad revenue, some publishers are still choosing to experiment.
As of February, NBC News’ “Stay Tuned” has posted 26 videos on TikTok. The 15-second videos feature one of the show’s three hosts — Savannah Sellers, Gadi Schwartz and Lawrence Jackson — commentating on news like the season premiere of “Game of Thrones” or participating in challenges like pineapple pulling.
Last month, ESPN joined TikTok with a video set to TikTok-sensation-turned-billboard-hit “Old Town Road” featuring ESPN sports analyst Stephen A. Smith in a suit and then a cowboy hat.
ESPN’s next video is a montage of basketball players getting hit by imaginary Pokeballs. The network’s fifth and most recent video is a back-and-forth staring contest between Bran of “Game of Thrones” and basketball player Draymond Green.
Meanwhile, Group Nine’s The Dodo has animal videos on TikTok that are more than a year old. The publisher was active on Musical.ly, and it continued sharing videos on the app after the transition in August. But it has stopped contributing as of January.
An ESPN spokesperson said the publisher is still in the early stages of its TikTok strategy but it’s willing to experiment with new formats where its consumers are.
For now, ESPN’s goal is to create “fun” content on TikTok. GroupNine said it plans to “ramp back up” on TikTok this year, but declined to offer specifics.
Publishers have been known to jump onto hot new platforms. But the question, as always, is how many resources they can afford to put toward an experimental platform, especially one like TikTok that doesn’t yet have a clear monetization path.
Publishers’ early strategies don’t require too much time and effort. For example, “Stay Tuned” is simply having one producer record one host per 15-second video on TikTok.
Advertising is limited on TikTok at the moment. A biddable option for media buyers will be available in beta next week and to all this summer, per a buyer, and could open the door to more monetization options for publishers in the future.
Last week, iHeartRadio shared a video featuring rapper Lizzo and another one with Korean boy band BTS, which received about 60,700 hearts.
While media companies have gravitated to new platforms quickly in the past, some have stayed away from TikTok.
Publishers like CNN and BuzzFeed which are active on other social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat don’t have verified accounts on TikTok. A BuzzFeed spokesperson said the company is still looking into TikTok as a potential platform for entertainment content.