TikTok, the Chinese viral video app that is hugely popular among teenagers, has been operating in the US for two years and now plans to ramp up its challenge to the Google-Facebook “duopoly” with an ambitious advertising strategy of its own.

According to Blake Chandlee, the company’s VP of global business solutions, TikTok will increase its spending in the US “across all functions”, including improved ad-targeting capabilities, better automated ad-buying processes and building up third-party monitoring and verification of its ad metrics.

“One of our core goals is to make it as easy as possible to get on the platform and start experimenting, just running campaigns,” he told the Financial Times in an interview.

Chandlee is a former head of advertising at Facebook who now leads TikTok’s efforts in building up ad partnerships in the US and he compared the rise of the video app to his early days at Facebook.

“It’s very similar to when I joined Facebook back in 2007,” he said. “Brands were all interested. They know they want to be there, they know the users are there, the cultural relevance is there and there’s this momentum. They’re just not quite sure how to do it.”

To that end, Chandlee has been advising brands looking to use the platform – some big names include Walmart and Nike – about how to make the most of TikTok’s homespun feel and to work with influencers, who can help to turn content viral.

“In the future, I would love it for brands to be able to … brief creators on almost every campaign they run,” he said, adding that allowing influencers to monetise on TikTok would be a “huge part of our strategy [in] the next couple of years”.

According to an unnamed senior advertising executive, one of the benefits TikTok offers advertisers is its base of highly engaged users, who spend an average of 250 to 300 seconds on the app per session, or almost double the time spent on Instagram.

Separately, Neil Campling, a senior research analyst at Swiss financial group Mirabaud, highlighted a recent 24-hour campaign on TikTok run by fashion label Guess that generated a click-through rate of 16%, compared with industry averages of less than 4%.

“Because you’ve had some of these campaigns being tremendously successful, it sparks [the] interest of others,” he said. “It’s highly likely that in 2020 we will see a significant acceleration of growth.”

Sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff