Advertising agencies have welcomed reports that TikTok, the Chinese viral video app, may introduce a curated content feed to allay brand safety fears – a move that would also enable it to charge higher advertising rates.
Last month the Financial Times highlighted moderation problems on the platform, citing evidence of violence, hate speech, bullying and sexually explicit content as it struggles to keep up with the explosive growth that has seen it hit 1.5 billion downloads worldwide.
But as the app prepares to ramp up its US advertising capabilities – including improved ad-targeting capabilities, better automated ad-buying processes and building up third-party monitoring and verification of its ad metrics – it is having to consider how it addresses the desire of brands not to be seen alongside inappropriate content.
In this matter, TikTok lags behind the efforts of other platforms, which haven’t completely solved the problem themselves, but people familiar with the matter have indicated that it is exploring the launch of a separate stream with selected content.
“If [TikTok] were to take this step, I think it would be a wise one,” said a partner at a large advertising agency with knowledge of the plans.
The FT’s sources were unable to put a timescale on TikTok’s plans. “They are still reliant upon engineering decisions out of China, and so just because they talk about things stateside doesn’t mean it’s immediate,” one person said.
Last week TikTok set out updated community guidelines in which it made clear the categories of videos it won’t allow, including those that promote terrorism or hate speech, depict illegal drug use, feature violent, graphic or dangerous content or seek to mislead people about elections and other civic processes.
While the company said the new rules would be applied globally, an element of doubt crept in when executives indicated these would be implemented “in accordance with local laws and norms”.
Sourced from Financial Times, Business Insider, TikTok, Washington Post; additional content by WARC staff