Publishers and ad agencies are in a race for brands' TikTok ad dollars, as marketers lean heavily on the social platform to engage with Gen Zers.
To this end, over the past few months publishers have created new TikTok-focused content studios, while agencies are beefing up their staff with TikTok creators, as more Gen Z specific agencies emerge.
On the publisher side, the TikTok ventures are largely coming from social-first publications that have seen success with building their own brands on TikTok and then applying their lessons to creating branded content. Now those branded opportunities are being turned into revenue-generating businesses.
Warner Music Group's IMGN Media, a social-first publishing outlet whose 14 brand channels include Daquan, So Satisfying and TryHard, is the latest publisher to announce a new TikTok-heavy offering for brands. The new Vertical Studios offers everything from consulting to content production and influencer services to reach elusive and conscientious Gen Zers. The 14-person operated unit is utilizing learnings from its own TikTok growth: IMGN properties have a combined 60 million followers and report 5 billion impressions and 4 billion video views a month.
“For us, it was driven by brands coming to us and saying ‘hey, we’re not sure what to do here, can you help?’" says IMGN’s Chief Strategy Officer Noah Mallin. “What we’ve realized is that TikTok is only going to continue to grow and the interest from brands is only going to continue to grow. It makes sense. Gen Z is a huge chunk of the population. The oldest Gen Z members are graduating college and they’re starting to bring the loyalties they will bring through life and starting to buy a whole bunch of different things so now is really the time to get in front of them as a brand.”
Vertical Studios has already worked with Levi’s to launch its global TikTok presence; McDonald’s on the roll out of its Crispy Chicken Sandwich; and Adidas on its latest drop for its ZX 2K Boost shoe. IMGN did not disclose how much its services cost.