U.S. marketers prepare contingency plans amid potential TikTok ban

by Anna Munhin Mar 21, 2023 News
U.S. marketers prepare contingency plans amid potential TikTok ban

The story was published on another publication. Kristina Monllos is a writer

Some marketers and agency executives are prepared for the possibility of a TikTok ban in the U.S. The uncertainty of a potential ban makes it hard to forecast where spend would be moved.

Han said that having multiple contingency plans for everything that could happen is part of what the company does. As one of the largest advertisers in the U.S., we have to be very practical when we think about the direction our investment can take, so having contingency plans is part of everything we do for every media partner we have.

There is a renewed sense of uncertainty when it comes to TikTok in the U.S., especially after President Biden demanded that the Chinese owners of the app sell their shares or face a ban in the U.S. With the likelihood of a ban still up in the air, marketers and agency executives are choosing between making contingency plans and waiting for a firm answer.

We know that we aren't in a position to read the tea leaves with any certainty. The only thing we can do is make sure we have our plans in place. We have plans for all of the scenarios.

The conversation about contingency plans tends to focus on other short-form video apps, according to marketers.

The impact on potential spending is likely to be diffuse according to Liz Cole, executive director, U.S. head of social at VMLY&R. We can expect the content to be adapted to other short-form video platforms. For brands further upstream in the creative process, they may choose to tell their story in other formats.

It wouldn't be the only consideration for marketers if TikTok were banned. Joshua Lowcock, UM global chief media officer, said that if TikTok were to be banned, the first priority for advertisers and publishers would be to get rid of TikTok tracking.

The impact of a possible ban on TikTok isn't the only thing that could go wrong.

It is not a TikTok ban according to Lowcock. If you look at the proposed legislation, it is really about foreign government ownership and control, this could play out as a challenge for other companies that are Chinese owned, controlled, or have China as a substantial investor.

Advertisers are already at risk due to the ban.

Cole said that if TikTok became a non-viable channel for advertisers, it would increase hesitance among brands to try new social platforms. Not every advertiser had the confidence to leap onto TikTok when its popularity first surged, and I could see some of the slower moving people viewing this as confirmation that a more cautious, less experimental stance is needed.

This year, the uncertainty of the longevity of a social platform has been made clear. Cole said that they can't take the longevity of any social platform for granted. "That doesn't mean brands shouldn't try new things, but they need to have a strategy that's grounded in the brand itself and the behaviors of consumers, not just the features of specific channels."