Place strategy

TikTok explains OOH and CTV plans: ‘There’s a place for us on every screen’

TikTok recently struck a deal to have its shortened videos distributed on out-of-home (OOH) sites. That, coupled with recent moves on TV, shows that TikTok can find new life beyond smartphone screens. The Drum talks to Isaac Bess, Senior Director and Global Head of Channel Partnerships, about his expansion ideals.

Earlier this month, TikTok reached an agreement with streaming TV company Atmosphere, helping it enter the world of OOH. Atmosphere will curate tens of thousands of TikToks for the screens of 18,000 restaurants, bars, gyms, doctors’ offices and more, reaching approximately 20 million unique visitors per month. You can watch one of those streams here.

Bess has other projects in the works. After 20 years in the music industry as a journalist, record label boss and digital distributor, his background puts him in a unique role at TikTok where he oversees a broad expansion mission to shift the levers of business development, strategy, telecommunications, infrastructure, product, and trust and security. He explains, “There is a place for amazing videos from the TikTok community on every screen on the planet.”

A big part of his job is to secure hundreds of partnerships around the world. He says: “TIC Tac’The growth of s since our launch in the summer of 2018 has been spectacular, and I am delighted that we have been able to forge deep and meaningful alliances to contribute to this growth.

It is expected to reach 1.5 billion monthly active users this year. To avoid a plateau, however, it must look beyond previously tapped marketing channels. Bess explains, “We believe – and continue to believe – that there is something for everyone on our platform. And yet, while ICT Tac has matured as a product and our community has grown and diversified, there are still people around the world who have yet to experience what our platform has to offer.

Eyes on expansion

When Quibi moved to CTV, we knew it was doomed – Roku then gobbled up its originals. When TikTok moved to CTV, the vibe was different. People were probably already consuming TikToks on TV through other platforms like YouTube or maybe Facebook Watch.

So Bess says CTV was a “natural first step,” in part because so many of its partners are active there, whether “telcos, OEMs like LG and Samsung, and operating systems like Google TV and Amazon Fire TV”.

ICT Tac TV came to Europe, UK, US and Korea in 2021, and more regions will be enabled in 2022. Meanwhile, could TikToks live in the linear TV space? Movistar in Spain is ready to try it, just like the in-flight entertainment experience on AirAsia.

Telecommunications providers are also natural partners.

“As we have grown, and as these relationships with Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica and Telenor and many others have grown in turn, we have expanded beyond the more transactional models to include more innovative concepts.”

The latest benefit is that the promise of instant, bottomless TikToks could theoretically help displace many 5G bundles. At the other end of the scale, there are also advantages. “In markets where the cost of data is a bit higher, we are partnering with the telecom space to unlock access to established and emerging markets.” There are more drivers to come on that front, Bess added.

Meanwhile, getting relevant TikToks on these platforms is a priority. Bess says, “We’re taking the data from each of these pilots and putting it on a global scale.” Context is key… do you personalize TikToks based on location (restaurant v airline), or do you try to determine the demographics of people most likely to frequent these places and fit in? The hyper-personalization of the TikTok feed doesn’t seem to land so well when released to a wider audience in public spaces.

Bess explains, “Your For You stream might not resonate with the extended family gathered around the TV, for example. And that’s okay – we’ve found the right experience to bring that same recommendation magic to an audience that includes spouses, children, grandparents and more.

TikTok in general will also be more interactive in the future. The team is working on setting up the “last mile” experience for users to “add a layer of richness, encouraging users to take particular actions.” This includes engaging with meditation like the Breathwrk integration, quizzes like the Quizlet integration, or recipes. These features could also be creatively deployed beyond mobile with a little imagination.

Based on Bess’ pitch, it looks like TikTok more comfortably carries the niche once envisioned for Quibi. “A curated set of incredible ICT Tac videos is a great way to spend a few minutes. The same goes for the dentist’s office, a slow elevator, queuing at the supermarket – these are all great times and opportunities for short videos.

It is clear that seeds are planted to ensure growth. The most relevant question is on which screens will you not be able to watch TikTok?