Triller is building an ad business that plays heavily on its ties to the music industry and inroads with celebrities, which it showed off in its announcement of TrillerTV. The video offering names Jennifer Lopez, DJ Khaled, the D’Amelio family, and 2 Chainz among its stars. It seems like a star-powered mix of shows, which Triller said will run in the form of weekly live streams on the app.
But when Triller pointed viewers to a website, Triller.TV, promising a schedule of shows, the domain had nothing to do with the TV project. It was a parked domain, meaning it was inactive and it displayed a handful of Russian-language links. (A parked domain can redirect to other sites, too, so each visitor may see a different page. None of them appeared to be owned by Triller though.)
When asked about the mixup on the evening of the announcement, Triller’s press team at Hitzik Strategies confirmed Triller.TV was the right address. “Triller.TV is the website and it should be up and running within the next hour or so,” a Triller spokesman said by email. But the website was not up and running within the hour. The same domain was still inactive days later, as well. The parked website was appearing as of Wednesday, nearly a week later. A Triller spokesman said that the domain would transfer at some point, but in the meantime pointed people to go.triller.co/live to get the schedule for the programs that were supposed to start on Triller on Feb. 18.
The show descriptions resemble the type of work Triller has been doing with brands lately, creating digital properties that could attract sponsorships.
In fact, Triller recently developed a show with Pepsi called "Your Wildest Dreams," a hip-hop talent competition that runs on the app. One of the shows being promoted on TrillerTV is “Fat Joe’s Masterclass,” which promises a livestream of the artist teaching his creative process.
Video series are content and advertising machines on social media. Some platforms have had success with such programs, like Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, and they promote the shows during periods like the IAB Digital Content NewFronts, which are yearly digital entertainment showcases for brands to consider.
Triller has also worked with L’Oréal’s NYX, E.l.f. cosmetics and Levi’s.
Then there are the boxing matches. Triller produced the Mike Tyson-Roy Jones Jr. comeback match in November. By entertainment standards it was certainly a success, drawing 1.6 million pay-per-view signups, one of the largest in history. Weedmaps sponsored the bout.
“The sponsorship was a significant inflection point for the broader cannabis industry,” Juanjo Feijoo, Weedmaps chief marketing officer, said in a statement. “The driving objective for many of our consumer marketing efforts is to dismantle the negative stigmas associated with cannabis through education and social advocacy, and this sponsorship provided one of the largest, and arguably, one of the most diverse platforms where we were able to further address those stigmas and promote social justice.”
“Weedmaps saw a record day for new web traffic, and hit an all-time high for single-day app downloads, surpassing even 4/20 numbers,” Feijoo said.
Ad world insiders have doubts about whether boxing, or other similar live events, can be a core part of digital video service looking to run with the likes of Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and TikTok. The smallest of those, Snapchat, has 265 million daily users, the type of consistent audience that major marketers demand in order to shift more than experimental ad budgets.
“For all the hype with the fight back in November, it’s an interesting event but it kind of had nothing to do with the app,” says a digital media exec who has had negotiations with Triller. The exec spoke on condition of anonymity but is close to Triller investors and people who have worked at Triller. “A lot of it is entertaining to a degree, but it had nothing to do with the app itself.”
The exec says that Triller has had some big moments with brands that have dabbled in the app, but “I don’t know if those are just one-offs.”
Triller declined to comment for this story, but it offered an email with a statement attributed to Noah Beck, the social media star. “The Triller audience may be smaller but it consists of relevant culture and trend setters,” the statement said. “This separates them from the competitors.”
But execs at agencies that work closely with creators, the ones whom Triller sought to win over, say the platform never delivered on the types of numbers it promised. Triller had been promoting its ability to give the newcomers top visibility in the app. That would mean big view counts and community. “It was a disaster,” says one social media talent executive, who has had direct dealings with Triller. “It was a very confusing mess and they couldn’t deliver what they said they could deliver to the creators.”