While TikTok continues to grow, it still remains at risk of losing its top creators to other, more established platforms if it's not able to provide adequate monetization tools and options.
Both YouTube and Facebook provide more ways for creators to make money, and while TikTok now has the audience, its advertising system is not up to the same stage to compete on this front, which will become a bigger problem over time, if that gap can't be addressed.
Key to this will be eCommerce options, and establishing more direct connection between creators and monetization opportunities. TikTok has already taken steps on this front, via its initial integrations with Shopify and Walmart. And now, according to a new report from The Financial Times, the platform's looking to add some new tools to facilitate more eCommerce opportunity, and maximize its revenue options on this front.
As per FT, TikTok has briefed advertisers on three new eCommerce integrations coming soon to the app:
- A tool that lets its most popular users share links to products and automatically earn commission on any sales
- The ability for brands to showcase catalogs of their products on the platform
- “Livestreamed” shopping, a mobile phone version of television shopping channels, where users can buy goods with a few taps after seeing them showcased by TikTok stars
All of these tools have been in testing, or live development, for some time - though not all in the US market.
The first option has been a key element in the monetization of the Chinese version of TikTok, called Douyin, which now generates the majority of its income from in-app commerce (as opposed to ads).
The new process will simplify such listings, and formalize the link/commission process, which will make it easier to facilitate partnerships with top creators - and crucially, provide an immediate, direct way for users to monetize their on-platform efforts.
TikTok has also been testing in video commerce links for some time, which, as noted, was advanced last year with its new Shopify partnership.
The new catalogs option would provide another presentation advancement on this front, likely via an added tab on selected profiles and video clips, linking through to an in-app showcase of sorts.
Which could look similar to the last innovation - live-stream shopping - which TikTok tested with Walmart back in December.
As you can see in this example, posted by Turner Novak, TikTok's live-stream shopping experience adds a product overlay on the video playback, which can be expanded to see more products that viewers can immediately buy in-stream.
As noted, given the need to ensure that its creators can make money, in order to stop them drifting off to other, more lucrative platforms, and the established path for eCommerce already in place within Douyin, its little surprise to see TikTok looking to follow a similar path, and you can expect to see these innovations coming sooner rather than later as a result.
Despite the app's ongoing growth, last year was hugely disruptive for TikTok, with the ban in India, the almost ban in the US, and various other challenges, outside of the over-arching pandemic. Those additional challenges likely slowed the development of its monetization options, but as noted, in order to keep its big stars posting, it needs to ensure that they can generate similar income to what they'd be able to on other platforms, or it risks losing a massive chunk of its audience very quickly.
That's what happened to Vine, and TikTok is well aware of that failure. As such, it needs these options to be added soon to further its ongoing growth.