TikTok points to HP, the computer maker, as an example of an advertiser that recently used OpenSlate to help manage suitability settings for an in-feed ad campaign. A case study of the campaign on TikTok’s website claimed HP verified that 99.5% of the impressions would be considered brand safe.
DoubleVerify purchased OpenSlate earlier this month for $150 million. IAS and DoubleVerify both measure viewability and brand safety controls, among other digital ad auditing services. IAS works with Nestlé, Coca-Cola, Disney, Mars, Samsung, Sanofi, American Express, Bayer, LVMH and Adidas.
TikTok is a challenging environment for advertisers, partly because of its young user base. The app is mostly known for popularizing dances, lip sync parodies, video mashups, hashtag challenges and music. But TikTok has run into similar criticism as Instagram in terms of its effect on its youngest audiences. Teens can run into imagery that glorifies eating disorders or depicts drug use, for example.
Mistrust and verify
The rush to bring in third parties to verify brand safety is essentially borne out of mistrust. Brands no longer take platforms’ word that they are clean, and they want independent arbiters. No setting has been more complicated to moderate than within “feed” environments like Facebook and Instagram, Twitter’s timeline and TikTok’s “For You” page. These are all algorithmically controlled channels, serving personalized streams of content to tens of millions and billions of users, depending on the app.
“This all feels like a must-have at this point, particularly as more and more ‘social’ investment is being pushed into TikTok,” said Ellie Bamford, senior VP and global head of media and connections at ad agency R/GA. “We have demanded, and rightly so, a massive shift in brand safety and responsibility from Facebook over the past two years. TikTok should be held to the same standards, particularly when adults in the U.S. are spending more time there every day than on Facebook.”
Facebook has taken the lion’s share of criticism for its apps’ effects on the internet and society at large. Facebook recently came under fire from whistleblower Frances Haugen, an ex-employee who leaked documents from the company. There were internal studies that showed Facebook knew about potentially harmful effects that Instagram had on some teens’ self-esteem. Last week, a group of states attorneys general, including from New York, California and Texas, said they were investigating Meta over how social media apps impact teens.