TikTok goes after nano-influencers with its latest advertising product

  • TikTok is testing a new ad format that allows nano-influencers to participate in brand content challenges.
  • Brands post “missions” inviting creators with at least 1,000 fans to create videos on their behalf.
  • Participants whose videos perform well will be compensated in cash and gain more views on their account.

TikTok is testing a new advertising product that allows users with as little as 1,000 followers to be paid to create sponsored videos, the company announced on Wednesday.

The feature, called “Branded Missions,” rewards creators with cash payments for creating a particular style of video that outlines a brand in a campaign briefing.

Brands set “mission requirements” that prompt participants to perform an action, such as doing a dance, including a particular hashtag, adding a brand effect, including a product or logo in a video, or adding a song to a message. If a user’s video performs well and is considered brand safe by TikTok, the company will reinforce the post as a sponsored ad and the creator will receive a cash payment.

Creators can preview the potential earning opportunities to determine if they want to participate in a mission. A mock-up of the feature featured in a video shared with Insider shows creators what percentage of the campaign budget remains with a description stating they’ll be paid on a first-come, first-served basis .

When asked whether all payments to creators would be made on a first-come, first-served basis, a TikTok spokesperson said the company is testing several models and “boosted traffic” will also be considered a form of compensation.

For brands, it is a way to capitalize on viral content on the platform. TikTok is unique because the many successful moments for brands seem to happen by chance, such as Ocean Spray getting attention for a viral skateboarding video.

Brand missions are currently being tested in more than a dozen markets by creators who are at least 18 years old and have at least 1,000 followers.

Why sponsored ‘challenges’ are taking off on TikTok

TikTok isn’t the first to try crowdsourcing ad campaigns on its platform.

Startups like Pearpop and Preffy (owned by music marketer Songfluencer) launched similar tools last year that reward creators for participating in TikTok challenges. Users of those two platforms are paid on a sliding scale based on the number of views or “likes” they drive.

In a current Preffy contest designed to promote the song “El Teke Teke” by Carlos Vives, Play-N-Skillz and the Black Eyed Peas, creators are offered $150 if their TikTok video is in the top 5 most “liked” of all state participants. In another campaign on Pearpop’s platform, shoe rental brand KYX World pays participants based on the number of views their videos get.

TikTok’s move to the video challenge format shows how important user-generated content has become to brands on its platform.

Hiring traditional influencers for campaigns has recently become more expensive for marketers. And as TikTok’s user base has grown to more than 1 billion monthly users worldwide, it becomes difficult for brands to predict whether a top influencer’s sponsored video will even be able to break through the noise.

“The First Way”


influencer marketing

would work, it would be that you were going to pay a few people with big followings, but it would be like throwing some big logs on a nonexistent fire,” Pearpop co-founder Cole Mason told Insider in September. “With challenges is there a way to actually light the fire.”

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