Video app TikTok is capturing publishers’ attention.
The smartphone app from Beijing-based ByteDance Technology calls itself “the world's leading destination for short-form mobile videos.” It’s one of the latest apps to quickly grow legions of young aficionados, competing with Snap, Vine, Dubsmash, Instagram, You-Tube and Facebook’s Lasso.
“I downloaded it with a friend to use at sleepovers,” said one American tween girl. “We used it to create lip-synching videos.There are also comedy sketches.” The videos are no longer than 15 seconds and can feature special effects.
In 2018 ByteDance, launched in 2012 by Zhang Yiming in an apartment close to Beijing’s Tsinghua University, was reportedly valued at $75 billion.That unconfirmed figure made it the world’s most valuable startup, Bloomberg and others reported.
The TikTok app, formerly known as, recently passed one billion installs on Google Play and the App Store, according to mobile market research firm Sensor Tower. That number doesn’t include Android installs in China.TikTok was the top non-game app in the U.S. in January 2019, according to SensorTower.
Publishers have taken note. “U.K. publishers are betting on short-form video platform TikTok as a new way to reach younger audiences” reads a recent Digiday headline. U.K. publishers the BBC, MTV and Kyra TV have been looking at TikTok as a source of talent or a content distribution partner, according to Digiday, which points out that the app doesn’t provide a means for publishers to monetize content.
NBC’s Snapchat show “Stay Tuned” has uploaded content to Tik-Tok, and ESPN and iHeartRadio are on the app, as well.
In April the app stumbled when it was banned in India after a court inTamil Nadu state said the app could make children vulnerable to predators and allow children to see pornography or suffer online bullying, CNN and others reported. Google and Apple pulled the app from their stores in India, but users who already had the app could continue to use it.The court lifted its ban after an appeal from TikTok, which said it had moved against inappropriate material.
In another snag, the operators of the app agreed in February to pay $5.7 million to settle FederalTrade Commission allegations that the company illegally collected personal information from children.The payment is the largest civil penalty ever obtained by the commission in a children’s privacy case.
The FTC’s complaint alleges thatviolated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which requires that websites and online services directed to children get parental consent before collecting personal information from children under the age of 13.