TikTok may let creators use their own product links in videos

It's banking on creators to sell products and pocket the commission

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A man holding a phone walks past a sign of Chinese company ByteDance's app TikTok, known locally as Douyin, at the International Artificial Products Expo in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China October 18, 2019. Picture taken October 18, 2019.  REUTERS/Stringer  ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. CHINA OUT.
China Stringer Network / Reuters

TikTok is working on new features to let creators promote items in return for a cut of sales. The short-form video app has reportedly briefed advertisers on the tools that allow popular users to share affiliate links to products with the incentive of taking home a commission. Creators won’t necessarily need to have a connection to the brand itself, reports the Financial Times.

Also in the pipeline is a “livestreamed” shopping channel where users can purchase goods with just a few taps. Think QVC, but featuring Charli D’Amelio and the latest celeb-endorsed skincare range. The move is part of a bigger push into e-commerce after the ByteDance-owned app flirted with tests that directed users to shopping sites. TikTok was also offering people the ability to add one URL to their profile page as part of the experiments that began in late 2019.

Since then it’s upped the ante in a bid to take on rival Facebook, which already offers shopping services on its main platform and introduced some contentious design changes to Instagram that prioritised Shops. As the FT notes, TikTok already has a partnership with e-commerce infrastructure provider Shopify and just last week announced its first major deal with an ad agency, WPP.

The app is reportedly leaning on its Gen Z cache by selling advertisers on the exclusivity of its platform, claiming 40 per cent of people on TikTok don’t have a Facebook account and that 63 per cent have skipped Twitter. On the back end, it’s also apparently planning a big upgrade for its ad platform to bring it in line with rival products through more DIY ad placements and improved user tracking.

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