TikTok, the popular short-video app, is getting more serious about advertising.

TechCrunch reports that TikTok is testing sponsored video ads that direct users to advertisers’ websites. According to TechCrunch,

The test was spotted in the U.S. TikTok app, where a video labeled “Sponsored” from the bike retailer Specialized is showing up in the main feed, along with a blue “Lean More” button that directs users to tap to get more information.

Presumably, this button could be customized to send users to the advertiser’s website or any other web address, but for the time being it only opened the Specialized Bikes (@specializedbikes) profile page within the TikTok app.

In addition, TikTok has been reportedly testing other ad formats ranging from a hashtag challenge to lens filters.

TikTok Exports Douyin’s Best Practices

At Moonshot, we are not surprised to see TikTok testing this kind of advertising. That’s because TikTok is the international version of an app, Douyin, which is already showing the world how to monetize short-form video with forms of advertising.

As I wrote on the Moonshot blog recently, Douyin is the hottest video app in China, owned by Bytedance. What many people don’t realize is that TikTok is Byedance’s version of Douyin for audiences outside of China. This distinction is important because businesses wanting to succeed on TikTok outside of China need to understand Douyin’s evolution inside China. That evolution includes advertising.

Examples of Douyin Advertising

As I wrote in January, Douyin monetizes itself through several forms of paid content. For example, Douyin offers clickable content that provides consumers access to a brand’s own e-commerce website. Brands can now post their detailed retail store information and visual content within their official Douyin account. Users can reach out to the business with one click.

Douyin has also mastered the hashtag challenge as a form of advertising. Brands such as Dior can also post challenge topics to create engagement. For example, Ctrip, China’s leading online travel agency, partnered with Douyin to initiate a hashtag challenge during National Day holidays, which consists of a week of heavy travel. Ctrip encouraged users to share their creative traveling experience with Ctrip’s sticker and tagged cities. Not only Ctrip harvested more than 4 billion views within just a week, the company also collected the top traveling city data for further marketing purpose.

What Businesses Should Do

If you aspire to capitalize on branding opportunities with TikTok, read my post on Douyin for a clue as to how those opportunities will look. In addition, if your brand is looking for better exposure in China’s large consumer market, consider creating a presence on Douyin, learning from Douyin, and transferring those learnings to TikTok outside of China. Adopting a test-and-learn approach will help you experiment with creating lovable experiences on Douyin to ensure “fit” with your target audience. At Moonshot, we work with businesses that are trying to embrace new ways to build lovable products and experiences in China on apps such as WeChat and Douyin. One of the ways we help businesses efficiently explore and validate the potential of doing so is through design sprints. With design sprints, businesses take four days to rapidly develop a product prototype based on input from real customers. We’ve incorporated the design sprint into our FUEL methodology, which helps companies not only develop product prototypes but then develop actual products at scale. To learn more about FUEL, check out the following blog post. And contact Moonshot. We are happy to help.

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