TikTok’s looking to give users more insight into how their personal data is being used for ad targeting in the app, with the addition of a new ‘About this Ad’ info panel that outlines all of the various targeting elements that TikTok has used to display each ad to each user.
As explained by TikTok:
“We're introducing a new 'About this ad' feature, so users will be able to tap on any ad in their feed and view some reasons why we're showing this particular ad to them. This is another step we're taking to bring more transparency into our advertising practices and help users understand how ads work on TikTok.”
As you can see in the above example sequence, now, you’ll be able to see more info about the ads that you’re shown in the app, by tapping on the ‘About this Ad’ button in the ad info screen. There, you’ll also be able to switch off ad personalization based on third-party data - though whether it’s on or off, TikTok will still be able to use your in-app activity in its ad targeting process.
The update will move TikTok more into line with other social apps, which offer similar ad transparency features - though it’s also worth noting that TikTok has been working to continue utilizing personalized ad tracking, in various ways, despite regulations and restrictions around such getting tighter in certain regions.
The planned update would have seen the app do away with asking users for their consent to run personalized ads, with TikTok seeking to process such data under what’s essentially a legal loophole in this respect, via the provision for ‘legitimate interest’. By implying that personalized ads fall under legitimate interest grounds, TikTok was seeking to circumvent the EU ePrivacy Directive, but authorities called for a review of the process before it could go into effect.
In other words, while on one hand TikTok’s looking to be more upfront about how your personal information is being used for ad targeting, on the other, it’s seeking to avoid restrictions on such, through questionable means.
European authorities will now need to review TikTok’s case before it can go ahead with the change.
In addition to the new ‘About this Ad’ element, TikTok has also launched an updated ad data usage overview to help users understand how they can be targeted with ad content, while users can also now choose whether the ads they are shown are based on estimates of their interests and/or gender.
“For example, users can choose to turn off the interest category "Beauty" so they will receive fewer ads that target to match this interest. Users can change their gender setting or input any gender of their choosing. These updates can be changed at any time in the app and apply only to users' ad settings, which does not affect other TikTok services.”
So, again, this brings TikTok more into line with other apps, which already offer similar ad data control options, which could help to ensure more relevant ads are shown to TikTok users, while also giving users more capacity to manage how they’re targeted with such in the app.
It’s a good update, though it will be equally interesting to see how TikTok works to manage its other data mitigation efforts to avoid the full impacts of Apple’s ATT update and other control measures.
TikTok should give users more control, but the app is also developing a reputation for questionable activity, in counter to accepted moderation and data usage parameters.
You can read more about TikTok’s new ad targeting transparency tools here.