Digiday+ Research deep dive: TikTok is getting even more marketing spend from brands and retailers

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TikTok’s seemingly had a rough few months. Marketers are making contingency plans as the platform faces a ban in the U.S. (again). Meanwhile, TikTok lost U.S. users for the first time in Q4, according to a report from Business Insider. (Data.ai reported that its average monthly users age 18 to 24 in the U.S. fell by almost 9% between 2022 and 2023.)

But none of this is affecting how much brands and retailers are spending on marketing on the platform — at least not yet. This is according to a survey of brand and retailer professionals conducted in the first quarter of 2024 by Digiday+ Research. In fact, the survey found that brands’ and retailers’ marketing spend on TikTok is actually growing.

Digiday’s survey found that, overall, nearly three-quarters of brands and retailers are on TikTok. Seventy-three percent of brand and retailer pros said their companies currently use TikTok, putting the platform in third place compared with other social marketing channels, behind Meta siblings Instagram and Facebook. Brand usage of Meta’s platforms is over 90%, according to Digiday’s survey.

Digiday’s survey also found that engagement is far and away brands’ and retailers’ main measurement of success on TikTok — which is a different look, compared with Facebook and Instagram, where brands measure success with sales. Forty-one percent of brand and retailer pros said engagement is the main measurement of success for their marketing efforts on TikTok, making it the No. 1 measurement for the platform among brands.

Engagement’s top spot on TikTok isn’t really a surprise, considering how the social platform works. But it’s worth noting that the second-place spot went to commerce and sales, according to Digiday’s survey. More than a quarter of brand and retailer pros (27%) said that commerce or sales is their main measurement of success on TikTok.

This datapoint is noteworthy because of its likely connection to the launch of TikTok Shop this past fall. Already in Q3 of last year, a Digiday survey found that more brands were putting marketing spend toward TikTok. And heading into the holiday season, 59% of brand pros said the platform would grow more important to their end-of-year marketing plans. Brands’ and retailers’ emphasis on TikTok-driven commerce and sales will be worth watching, because it’s a potential indication that they’re utilizing TikTok Shop as part of their marketing strategies.

Regardless of brands’ and retailers’ interest in TikTok Shop, Digiday’s survey found that this group’s marketing spend on TikTok is growing. In the last year, the percentage of brand and retailer pros who said their companies spend at least a very small portion of their marketing budget on the platform has grown from just over half (54%) in Q1 2023 to more than three-quarters (79%) in Q1 2024. (The majority of that growth happened by Q3 of last year, when 78% of brand and retailer pros said their companies spent at least a little on TikTok marketing, bringing us back around to the launch of TikTok Shop.)

Notably, the percentage of brands and retailers spending a lot on TikTok marketing has been trending upward. In Q3 2022, just 7% of brand and retailer pros told Digiday their companies spent a large or very large portion of their marketing budget on TikTok. That percentage rose to 12% in Q1 2023, and rose again to 17% in Q3 2023 before hitting 29% in Q1 of this year.

Breaking that data down a bit further, the percentage of brands and retailers who spend a large portion of their marketing budget on TikTok has been growing steadily for the last year. Nineteen percent of brand and retailer pros said in Q1 2024 that their companies spend a large amount on TikTok marketing, up from 13% in Q3 2023 and 6% in Q1 2023. Meanwhile, the percentage of brands and retailers who put a very large portion of their marketing budget toward TikTok saw significant growth in just the last six months. Four percent of brand and retailer pros said in Q3 2023 that their companies spent a very large portion of their marketing budget on the platform, compared with 10% who said the same in Q1 2024.

Interestingly though, despite the growth in brand and retailer spending on TikTok, Digiday’s survey found that the platform doesn’t rank very high when it comes to driving conversions or branding. Fewer than a quarter of brand and retailer pros (22%) told Digiday that TikTok is the social channel that is best for driving conversions, putting TikTok in third place in this category, behind No. 1 Instagram and No. 2 Facebook. For context, first-place Instagram came in at 41%.

Even fewer brand and retailer pros said TikTok is the best social platform for branding. Just 16% of brands and retailers chose TikTok as their top choice for branding. TikTok does come in second place here, but significantly behind Instagram, which holds the top spot with 55% of brand and retailer pros saying it’s the best social platform for branding. Facebook and YouTube came in behind TikTok, both at 12%.

https://digiday.com/?p=538839

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