On a day when most of Madison Avenue was focused on the TV Upfronts, TikTok launched Branded Mission this morning. It’s an innovative (and subversive) way for brands to crowdsource authentic (and creative) content from the TikTok community.
Branded Mission empowers creators to engage directly with brands to create (and monetize) their content for marketing campaigns.
This launch illustrates that TikTok is willing to provide digital marketers with new ways of reaching Gen Z and millennial audiences – with or without an advertising agency of record (AOR) – while simultaneously enabling creators to monetize their creativity on TikTok.
In turn, it eliminates the need to go through one of the thousands of agencies and firms that have popped up to offer influencer marketing services.
Talk about cutting out the middleman! So, what’s the likely impact of TikTok’s digital disintermediation?
Well, as is often the case, the devil is in the details.
TikTok has more than 1 billion monthly active users worldwide. TikTok took the top spot for most downloaded app in the first three months of 2022, beating Instagram and Facebook.
For digital marketers, Branded Mission enables brands to invite creators to contribute to a campaign – if they can create content that resonates both with their brand and their communities on TikTok. For example, brands can:
For creators, Branded Mission gives the broader creator ecosystem the opportunity to get selected by digital marketers to create branded content. For example,
Now, why do people watch TikTok videos?
Although many traditional marketers still think of it as a Gen Z platform for dance challenges, TikTok says people come to be inspired by a broad spectrum of diverse communities as well as to discover new brands, products, and ideas.
Creators who seem to have their finger on the pulse of the latest trends and appear to represent a new generation of storytellers are breaking boundaries of entertainment and defining culture.
So, if storytelling is actually what brings communities together on TikTok, then this has the potential to create a valuable opportunity for brands and creators to work together to create engaging content. TikTok thinks the participatory nature of the platform has created an entirely new way for brands to engage with creators and connect with diverse communities all around TikTok.
We’ll see if they’re right.
That’s why TikTok has launched Branded Mission. It’s a flanking attack on advertising agencies that believe Connected TV (CTV) has become the go-to spot for people to kick back and enjoy their favorite content. And, over 50% of ad-supported streaming watch time happens on YouTube CTV for people ages 18 and up, according to Nielsen.
TikTok doesn’t have a CTV option, so they’ve doubled down on inspiring brand and creator collaborations. To get an idea of how they are positioning Branded Mission, watch the overview that they’ve uploaded to Vimeo.
In other words, it’s a new way for brands and creators to collaborate on creating branded content.
Now, this new matchmaking service has the potential to help brands discover emerging creators broadly across TikTok – if that’s what they’re interested in doing. Some brands will test the waters – and others will wait and see what happens. So, it’s difficult to predict whether Branded Mission will take off as quickly as TikTok itself has.
Up to this week, the brands that have seen the most success on TikTok have been the ones that have taken the time to watch and listen to the TikTok community before engaging with specific creators.
Branded Mission has the potential to bring more brands closer to communities on TikTok if – and only if – they are willing to empower creators they haven’t already vetted to contribute to a campaign.
I expect challenger brands are the most likely ones to fit this profile. And I expect that most market leaders and niche brands will wait and see what happens next. I also expect a similar phenomenon will take place on the creator side of the matchmaking process.
The most likely creators to check out a challenger brand’s Branded Mission page to see if it represents an opportunity to monetize their next video will be nano-influencers (1,000 to 10,000 followers) or micro-influencers (10,000 to 100,000 followers). And I expect that most macro influencers (100,000 to 1 million followers) and mega or celebrity influencers (over 1 million followers) will wait and see what happens next.
This may make the early days of Branded Mission as awkward as a middle school dance. But, it may also produce some surprising results. Who knows, things could snowball quickly.
Branded Mission is currently in beta testing and only available to brands and marketers in a dozen markets around the world. But, TikTok expects Branded Mission will become available in additional markets starting in late 2022.