TikTok says its impressions are undervalued by 73%. Will advertisers adjust their measurements?

By 09/13/2023
TikTok says its impressions are undervalued by 73%. Will advertisers adjust their measurements?

TikTok is arguing that its marketing power extends far beyond its home platform. In a recent post on its TikTok for Business blog, the ByteDance-owned app urged advertisers to adjust their campaign measurement strategies if they want to recognize the true value of a TikTok view.

The blog post specifically calls out click-based attribution methods, which track the progress of campaigns by noting clicks that lead from sponsored posts to landing pages. That model is widely used in the ad world, but TikTok is making the case that “discovery does not mean clicks.” The short-form video app believes that its highly engaging videos and deep communities drive consumer intent, even for users who don’t immediately convert their clicks into purchases.

“Click-based measurement makes more sense in an environment where the user is actively searching for a product and is already one click away from a purchase,” reads the post. “However, it severely under-attributes platforms like TikTok where users are immersed in a steady stream of content and engage with brands or discover products while being entertained.”


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According to TikTok, that under-attribution is massive. The platform estimates that it’s only getting credit for 21% of the purchases it informs. For the other 79%, TikTok still plays a significant role in the purchase process, even if search platforms, social media sites, or email campaigns ultimately record the critical click. In total, TikTok believes click-based measurements undervalue its conversations by 73%.

To correct that discrepancy, TikTok wants its ad partners to adopt hybrid measurement models that mix click-based attribution with “view-through” tracking. The later model records the number of purchases made during a specific “attribution window,” which can be as short as one day or as long as one week. The platform is also advising its partners to be patient. Advertisers who wait for the most accurate measurements can adjust their campaigns based on the resulting data.

TikTok’s blog post arrived days after the U.S. launch of the TikTok Shop platform, which offers deals on cheap goods from China. That timing doesn’t seem like a coincidence. As ByteDance brings its expansive ecommerce operation to the West, it is hunting for brands that are willing to get on board. Advertisers who buy into the TikTok Shop hype could be in for big returns, but they might want to check the math on their campaigns first.

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