TikTok’s relationship with advertisers also is complicated because of its ties to its Chinese-based owner ByteDance. TikTok has been under a microscope in the U.S. because of its influence in social media and its foreign ownership. In some cases, advertisers have been slower to adopt some tools, such as tracking pixels, which marketers put on their websites to measure when ads from apps sent consumers their way.
“TikTok being a self-attributing network isn’t surprising,” another executive at a measurement firm said. “Them being a Chinese company and a self-attributing network could be the part that raises eyebrows.”
TikTok’s move to a self-attributing network “increases privacy, but it also decreases transparency for advertisers,” said another executive at a TikTok measurement firm. The measurement partners won’t get access to “user-level data for view-through campaigns,” this person said.
Marketers still need the measurement partners, however, as part of a multipronged approach to measurement, so the partners don’t feel they are being squeezed out, according to Charles Manning, CEO of Kochava, another measurement partner.
“A lot of people will be really negative about a self-attributing network, because it allows the publisher to grade their own homework,” Manning said. “But any marketing measurement partner worth their weight is cross-comparing multiple self-attributing networks to validate ad performance.”
The digital advertising world is moving to more forms of aggregated data for privacy reasons, Manning said. “The pendulum is swinging from advertisers having all the insights to premium publishers having control over what insights are available and all of that is over privacy reasons.”