When 2020 started out, a third of brands and agencies were planning to increase their spend on TikTok. But many have now been forced to take a wait-and-see approach, given the popular app’s future in the U.S. remains uncertain. Microsoft has until September 15 to work out a deal to acquire TikTok from its China-based parent ByteDance, else President Trump’s executive order, issued on Thursday, that prohibits transactions with ByteDance will effectively ban TikTok from operating in the States.
Meanwhile, alternative TikTok apps seem to be cropping up like a game of whack-a-mole—battling for active users and for advertising dollars. So, which of these copycats will benefit the most should TikTok actually be banned? While contenders like Dubsmash, Likee, and Triller are gaining traction, three apps in particular are in the advertising spotlight right now.
Not to be confused with ByteDance, Byte is commonly referred to as “Vine 2.0” as it’s the brainchild of the co-founder of Vine. When it launched this past January, the app surged in downloads because of the anticipation, nostalgia and loyalty to Vine. However, expectations were quickly tempered by a user experience that fell flat—likened to a “lesser than” TikTok because of its clumsy UI and far fewer creator tools. Byte is working hard to continuously roadmap and ship new features but its biggest challenge is building up its user base from scratch. However, TikTok’s questionable future is giving Byte a resurgence in popularity as it hit the #2 spot on Apple’s App Store this past week. The company even tweeted that it’s ready to fill TikTok’s void, and the general population tends to agree—at least on Twitter.
In a poll I conducted with more than 3,000 votes, the majority thinks that Byte will benefit the most from a TikTok ban. Francisca Moliere, a senior media planner at Mediahub Global, tends to agree, “Considering the audience size of Byte and its similar user experience with Vine, it has similarities to TikTok. Instagram is already cluttered with advertisers now. To add more to it can become tiring to the user. Advertisers can benefit from a ‘new’ platform that's not yet saturated.” Certainly Nike, in partnership with R/GA seized the opportunity of Byte’s newness and untapped whitespace when the app first launched. Yet most advertisers I spoke with wouldn’t necessarily place their bets on Byte. Why? It’s all about scale, which is something that Instagram undeniably has.