Advertising on TikTok in the Age of Coronavirus

Though the video-sharing app has been around for four years, TikTok's downloads skyrocketed in 2020's quarantine phase. It gained more than 12 million unique US visitors in March. By the end of March, TikTok had generated over 300 million downloads in 2020 alone, the most for any app ever in a quarter.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, people are spending more time at home. TikTok's users are turning to the app to fill their free time, with its US users averaging 46 minutes a day on the app. The addicting appeal of the app's personalized "For You" page combined with its 30 million monthly active users in the US proves TikTok a prime medium for advertising. 

Companies that can capitalize on quarantine-friendly activities have taken to advertising on TikTok. For example, a recent Amazon Prime Video ad has surfaced promoting an upcoming movie release on their website, inadvertently offering users an option to safely watch films at home. 

Walmart has also begun advertising their Express Delivery, a new service that delivers items from the store to customers' doors in less than two hours. This ad also inadvertently offers users an option to shop for groceries and necessities safely. 

Meanwhile, other brands are generating general TikToks for their company accounts. TikTok’s algorithm pushes content to users based on past videos they have interacted with, so for businesses who are not interested in purchasing ad space, this can be a successful alternative.

Chipotle’s TikTok account is a prime example of brands engaging with users of the app without spending a dime. In a recent post, Chipotle promoted its limited-time free delivery for food orders on Mondays. While this video wasn’t an official ad, it garnered over 250 thousand likes and more than three thousand shares. Yet again, Chipotle’s promotion is another example of a brand offering users an option to eat from restaurants safely during the pandemic.

It’s clear that TikTok is an effective space for companies to increase engagement, traffic and sales during COVID-19, but the pandemic won’t last forever, and it isn’t the only disadvantage for businesses looking to begin advertising on the app. President Donald Trump’s administration is considering banning the app after concerns of a national security threat arose, prompting advertisers to seek out other apps for their marketing.

Once masks and social distancing guidelines are a thing of the past, and if the app is still available in the future, should brands continue to advertise on TikTok? Let us know on one of our social pages @TXADPR! 


Morgan Dubose