TikTok, the short-form video platform dominated by teens, is now moving steadily into sponsored content. TechCrunch reported today that the app will now let viewers buy products associated with sponsored hashtags without leaving the app. Called Hashtag Challenge Plus, the new feature allows companies who run influencer campaigns on TikTok to directly sell products to the app's users.
Kroger became the first company to test out the new feature last week with their #TransformUrDorm challenge. TikTok users were asked to post before and after videos of their dorm makeovers. They were also invited to buy products such as a toaster and a popcorn maker through a dedicated Kroger brand page on the TikTok app. The hashtag now has over 447 million views across hundreds of different videos.
Companies have already experimented with their own influencer campaigns on the app. As Buzzfeed noted in a recent profile, teenage TikTok influencers have been approached by music labels to use certain songs in their videos. Beauty brands are using TikTok to corner the under-24 market. Both Sephora and TooFaced have launched campaigns on the app in recent weeks, reported Glossy.
Venturing into ecommerce is a bold move for the relatively new TikTok, which recently celebrated its one year anniversary. But the app's international scope and primarily Gen-Z audience will no doubt be irresistible for advertisers. Much like Instagram in 2013 before the advent of sponsored posts and hyper-targeted ads, TikTok remains one of the few places on the internet where young people can be free from advertisers. With sponsored hashtags and dedicated brand pages on the way, that's likely to change.