Research Briefing: TikTok tops brands’ holiday wishlist

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In this week’s Digiday+ Research Briefing, we examine how brands have been upping their TikTok investments this holiday season, how Lyft and the MSG Sphere are positioning themselves as ad opportunities beyond OOH, and how publishers are committing to building their events businesses in 2024, as seen in recent data from Digiday+ Research.

39% of brand and retailer pros invest a lot in original content for TikTok

Brands have been spending more on TikTok leading up to the holidays this year, teeing up the platform to play an important role in their holiday marketing efforts. Halfway through 2023, more than a third of brands and retailers (35%) said they purchased advertising on TikTok in the past month, compared with less than a quarter (24%) at the same point last year. This is according to Digiday+ Research surveys of more than 400 brand and retailer pros that took place throughout the year in 2021, 2022 and 2023. 

In addition to increasing their overall TikTok investments, brands are also spending more on creating content specifically for TikTok. This year, 39% of brand and retailer pros told Digiday that they invest a lot in creating original content for TikTok. Last year, less than a quarter (23%) said the same. As brands and retailers put more resources toward the organic content they share on TikTok leading up to the holidays, they’re perhaps also testing the waters of their organic reach in conjunction with the sales potential of TikTok Shop.

TikTok Shop — launched in September — is one of the ways in which TikTok has been making plays to further cement itself as a key holiday platform for driving brand awareness and even converting sales, ​​according to Digiday+ Research’s newly released holiday marketing and commerce report. The platform also sent out sales material to advertisers that included a Holiday Media Plan to be used between October and December 2023.

Insights and stats:

  • “This type of [sales] document looks like something we would have received from Meta four years ago, about how we prepare for holiday and spend money. There’s definitely a push towards seeing TikTok as more of a conversion-based platform that Meta or Google have matured into today.” — Tucker Matheson, managing partner at Markacy
  • Fifty-nine percent of brand and retailer pros said in 2023 that TikTok will grow more important to their marketing plans during the holidays, up slightly from 55% last year. Only 4% said the platform will grow less important to their plans.
  • The percentage of brand and retailer pros who said TikTok is extremely valuable to driving their revenues has been trending up too. This year, 32% of respondents said that TikTok is extremely valuable to driving their revenues, up from 8% in 2022 and 5% in 2021. 

Read more about brands’ holiday spending on TikTok

Digiday+ Research digest

In case you missed it, over the Thanksgiving holiday Digiday reported that Lyft is attempting to grow its ad business with what it calls a “digital retail” advertising strategy — a combination of in-app advertising, video ads, in-car tablets and roughly 800 digital rooftop screens on cars as well as out-of-home placements. Meanwhile, the MSG Sphere in Las Vegas is selling itself as one-of-a-kind ad inventory. Its pitch deck touts its value as a brand marketing vehicle tied to new product launches or major events that is distinct from typical OOH outlets. Out-of-home advertising actually decreases in importance to marketers at this time of year, according to Digiday+ Research’s recent report on marketers’ 2023 holiday marketing and commerce strategies. However, agencies do expect clients to increase their OOH spending in 2024, according to Digiday’s annual media agency report.

Insight and stats:

  • Traditional marketing methods like OOH take a backseat to digital platforms like Amazon during the holiday sales season. Almost one-third of marketer respondents (32%) said OOH advertising grows less important to their marketing plans during the holidays, while only 7% said Amazon grows less important.
  • “With consumers continuing to engage in more activities outside the home, one would imagine that spend in OOH would continue to rise to meet its restored audience. But, with fears of a recession come tightening budgets, and oftentimes branding-focused media tactics like OOH are the first to go if budgets are pulled.” — Joseph McConellogue, associate partner of performance digital at VSA Partners
  • One-fifth of agency respondents (20%) said clients have increased OOH spending in 2023, and nearly one-third (32%) expect clients to increase OOH spending in 2024.

Read more about agencies’ expectations for 2024 client spending

Publishers’ events businesses picked up pretty significantly during the back half of 2023 — and publishers will focus on sustaining that lift into 2024. This is according to Digiday+ Research surveys of over 350 publisher professionals, the most recent being in Q3 2023. This finding tracks with other recent news: Digiday reported earlier this month that several digital publishers are doubling down on events heading into next year. Digiday’s surveys even potentially indicate a pattern of publishers making more money from events in the second half of the year, rather than the first.

The stats:

  • Nearly three-quarters of publisher pros (72%) told Digiday in Q3 2023 that they make at least a very small portion of their revenue from events, up from 57% in Q1. Similarly, in Q3 2022, 71% of publisher pros told Digiday that at least a very small portion of their revenues came from events, an increase from 63% who said the same in Q1 2022.
  • Publishers are expressing a commitment to building their events businesses in 2024. Eighty percent of publisher pros said in Q3 of this year that they will put at least a very small focus on building their events businesses in the next six months, up significantly from 67% in Q1 of this year.

Read more about publishers’ focus on 2024 events revenue

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