The TikTok Boat Has Left The Dock; DirecTV Is Back On Its Ad Game

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TikTok Rocks The Boat

TikTok ad budgets went from experimental to critical overnight.

Brands are ramping up their TikTok budgets – rapidly. It’s why TikTok expects its ad revenue to triple this year to $12 billion.

Buy-side platforms are also gearing up for the short-form video shift, because TikTok has “grown like a weed” in the last year, System1 CEO Michael Blend told investors.

Many brands you wouldn’t expect, like Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, announced TikTok ad spend for the first time this year – “which I never thought I’d say out loud,” the discount chain’s CEO said during its earnings call. Other brands upping spend across verticals include Vera Bradley, Abercrombie and even Pizza Hut, Insider reports.

Digital spend is already trending upward as linear TV declines. TikTok holds an edge over direct competitors – because of Apple’s new AppTrackingTransparency privacy move, its front-runner Meta is severely handicapped due to its reliance on a network stitched together with in-app SDK integrations and site pixels. Unlike Meta, TikTok hasn’t built up its ad business in the before times of identity. 

But TikTok’s biggest advantage might be its inroads with younger audiences. The platform beats Instagram in popularity for Gen Zers and is a powerful place for brands to tout celebrity sponsorships and put their products in the hands of influencers.

Direct To The Point

DirecTV named Amy Leifer its first-ever chief advertising sales officer.

DirecTV spun out of AT&T last year, though AT&T retains a 70% stake. 

As an independent company (wink wink), DirecTV can commit to its video streaming service and its own stand-alone advertising offering, with new leadership to boot. Another example: One month after DirecTV exited AT&T proper, the company launched DirecTV Stream, a live TV and on-demand video service. 

“The team has obviously been doing other things the last few years,” Leifer tells Adweek. “But what we’re really excited about is bringing that focus back to DirecTV and leading with our data-driven products and portfolio.”

DirecTV’s ad business fell by the wayside as AT&T packaged AppNexus with its own AdWorks addressable TV unit. Leifer, who has held roles at the same company under three different business names (AdWorks, WarnerMedia and Xandr), knows this shuffle well.

“Amy possesses a unique understanding of the advertising marketplace,” says DirecTV CEO Bill Morrow in a statement. 

The Spon Con

Small sellers on Amazon are struggling to break through Amazon’s results page. 

A survey of more than 900 online sellers by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a local business advocacy group, surfaces a growing tide of frustrated companies that are boxed out of Amazon searches, even in cases when shoppers explicitly search for their brand or product. 

These sellers are compelled to participate in the Amazon market and Amazon advertising because Amazon controls too much of the online shopping market to miss, and organic traction on Amazon isn’t possible without parallel paid media investments. 

On Amazon, sellers must compete with larger brands with deeper marketing pockets. They also face Amazon’s private-label brands. OK, fair enough.

But sponsored product placements have absolutely taken over Amazon feeds. Three years ago, two of the top 10 products on average listed in Amazon results were sponsored. A year ago, it was 40%. It may be half by now. 

Considering Amazon-owned brands always sit atop the charts “organically” wherever they compete, breaking into open search spots has become almost as tough (and expensive, in ad costs) as breaking into app store top download charts. 

But Wait, There’s More!

Scrutinizing the fortunes of ad tech on the public markets. [Digiday]

Amazon workers in New York vote to form the company’s first US labor union. [WSJ]

Why Google’s test to replace cookies may face hurdles. [Ad Age]

Big hugs to boring companies that actually help people. [NYT]

You’re Hired!

Olivia Mills joins Claravine as senior manager of people and culture. [release]

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