September 25, 2023

Digital Marketing Education

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TikTok’s out-of-home marketing approach as it aims beyond mobile

“We’re leaning into digital out-of-home because we feel the content showcased on TikTok shouldn’t necessarily just belong on TikTok,” said Dan Page, head of global distribution for TikTok’s so-called New Screens team, which since 2021 has worked to distribute TikTok videos across “as many screens as possible outside of mobile.” 

“Yes, our platform is the place to consume content through your For You page. That is important,” he told Ad Age. “However, we also recognize there are 2 billion additional screens outside of mobile, and these are the screens that should feature the content that we have—the education content, the book content, the food content. You should be able to have that experience wherever you are.”

More: BookTok influencers revamp publisher’s TikTok strategy

TikTok worked with tech consultancy firm Omida to identify those estimated 2 billion global screens, which include digital OOH displays, screens within vehicles and cinema screens, according to a TikTok spokesperson. 

Bringing TikTok videos to noisy locations such as airports, gas stations and grocery stores has required the platform to curate a continually updated library of video content that can be appreciated and understood without sound. On mobile, audio is a crucial element of TikTok content, with users and marketers alike often incorporating trending songs and other audio clips into their videos in hopes of achieving greater reach. In fact, in 2021, TikTok commissioned a study from Kantar which found 88% of TikTok users consider sound “essential to the TikTok experience.”

Gas stations and grocery stores

Page and the New Screens team are regularly picking out and licensing video content “meant to be viewed without sound, which includes art, sports, practical jokes” and other “lighthearted content that’s supposed to amuse you,” he said. TikTok gives attribution to creators whose videos are included in that content library, he added. Marketers, too, can capitalize on TikTok’s out-of-home expansion by extending their paid ads created for a mobile TikTok experience to these new digital out-of-home mediums, Page said.

For Sean McCaffrey, president and CEO of gas station video network GSTV, which announced its partnership with TikTok in June, marketers bringing their TikTok-optimized video content to new digital mediums helps brands remain at the forefront of consumers’ minds as they go about their day instead of solely while they’re scrolling through social media. He likens this broadening of TikTok consumption to a modern form of sequential messaging, where marketers can bring their ads designed to engage younger, digital-native consumers to screens they encounter closer to the point of sale in retailers such as convenience stores.

“We, as consumers, now live very fluid lives between the so-called digital and physical worlds,” McCaffrey said. “A lot of our brand partners—our client base is automotive, financial services, entertainment, QSR and a few other things—are using TikTok. And we think the partnership with TikTok is an opportunity for those brands to extend those campaigns to a real, larger audience.

“I think sometimes, as media strategists, we get a little too hung up on things like, ‘What is this called? Where does it fit in the budget?’” he continued. “Versus, as a consumer, if something is a relevant product to me, hitting me with it a few times in a few different places is going to be valuable.” 

GSTV distributes video content on roughly 30,000 gas pump screens across the country, and the network will incorporate both user-generated and branded TikTok videos into its daily rotation of content, McCaffrey said. By bringing its videos to GSTV’s 116 million monthly viewers, TikTok is essentially evolving into a “broadcast viewership network as much as it is a digital platform,” he said.


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