Bloomberg’s goal to turn TicToc, its 24/7 news brand, into a fully fledged media network is taking shape.
Launched on Twitter December 2017, TicToc now has a presence on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, WhatsApp, Amazon Echo, as well as a podcast and newsletter. By the end of this year, it will have a presence on over-the-top streaming services too.
“The mission is to live across all platforms that make up someone’s daily news diet,” said Jean Ellen Cowgill, MD at TicToc. “If you look at the projection for the OTT ad market, the writing on the wall is pretty clear. There’s a lot of competition because it’s the next big explosion, we want to be part of that.”
TicToc is in a promising position, benefiting from the deep reporting and data resources of Bloomberg which helped it to reach profitability in its first year. Currently, TicToc has 70 people in New York, London and Hong Kong. Around 10 of its employees are in sales and business development. Hiring is underway to staff up for its OTT programming.
Exactly how TicToc’s streaming show will look is still being decided. What the company knows for sure is that people aren’t happy with the current general news offering on streaming services, which tend to replicate linear news shows from cable TV. Global audience research from Bloomberg found that 34% of those who spend more than 10 hours a week streaming content are dissatisfied with how news is presented. Another finding: only 27% watch news as part of their streaming content mix.
“People want experts, but they don’t want talking heads,” said Cowgill. “They want a more narrative-storytelling style and more analysis but with the immediacy of the news world.” According to Cowgill, 90% of the TicToc audience is between 21 and 44 years old. It’s a younger and broader audience than Bloomberg’s typical cohort, which has helped attract new advertisers.
There are a lot of differences to consider when programming for streaming services rather than social media. Aside from length, the OTT show will be less frequent, viewed on bigger screens and needs to suit being viewed live or on-demand. It also needs to be efficient. A strong component of the revenue will be advertising, although TicToc is talking with potential partners with subscription video-on-demand services.
On social platforms, the show has been growing. Twitter is still the majority of its views, racking up 54.4 million views in April, according to Tubular Labs. Also, 99 of its most-viewed 100 videos are on Twitter. This is hardly surprising given how important live video and news is on Twitter.
Instagram, the second-most-popular social platform by views, had 8.7 million views. Facebook has only had only 600,000 views in April, but views have increased by 81% compared to the same period last year, per Tubular. Partly because overall content output has increased, TicToc has published nearly 17,000 more videos to social platforms this year compared with the same time period last year.
Last year, TicToc was proving itself to the market, launching with seven founding partners who had category exclusivity. Now, it has attracted more advertisers who are spending more on longer campaigns.
Like Bloomberg before it, TicToc recognizes the value in forming deeper, longer-term partnerships with clients. Cowgill, former president of Atlantic 57, The Atlantic’s consultancy, has helped replicate consultancy practices within TicToc, hiring account director roles that partner closely with clients. It’s also been working with its data science and engineering team to display campaign reporting in more intuitive ways.
TicToc has introduced a six-second video product, called Snapshot, for clients who are on their way to creating a more in-depth branded custom solutions. It also offers branded content, sponsored editorial and pre-roll placement in front of timely news clips. Often clients either want to align themselves with a theme they care about, like 5G or the internet of things. Or they want to align themselves with a major event like the World Economic Forum.
TicToc will replicate this monetization model blend on streaming services too but will need to work hard to grow a global audience across a fragmented ecosystem. As news is a commodity it needs to establish its tone of voice and authority ahead of others, said Ben Sinden, content and consultant at Sinden Media consulting.
“If TicToc can establish its identity and grow a wider audience on existing platforms, an OTT product could be the logical next step. But delivering on their brand will be essential,” he said. “Given Bloomberg’s data, tech, scale and heritage, it has as good a chance to cut through to a streaming news audience as anything before it.”
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