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TikTok Files New Petition in U.S. Court of Appeals

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TikTok, the controversial video-sharing app owned by Chinese tech conglomerate ByteDance, is expected to be officially banned in the U.S. as of today, per an executive order issued by President Donald Trump in August. The White House views the platform as a threat to national security, charging it could share sensitive information on U.S. consumers with Chinese authorities — an allegation TikTok fiercely contests, including through a lawsuit against the government.

But while the deadline for TikTok to secure a sale that could preserve its business in a key market is finally here, one would be hard-pressed to tell the platform is facing an existential crisis on the surface. Marketing Dive easily downloaded and accessed TikTok from the Apple App Store Thursday morning, and marketers, too, appear to be holding fast with their efforts on the app.

“TikTok has continued to grow and thrive through multiple past ‘deadlines,’ and we believe we’ll see that again now,” Evan Horowitz, chief executive at Movers+Shakers, an agency that develops TikTok campaigns for brands like e.l.f. Cosmetics and NYX, said over email. “All of our clients are moving full speed ahead with their TikTok campaigns and TikTok channels.”

Even TikTok seems perplexed by the state of affairs, The Verge reported. ByteDance and TikTok on Wednesday filed a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals claiming they’ve stopped receiving communication in recent weeks from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, the agency group reviewing the app’s business, after asking for a 30-day extension to iron out an agreement. The companies are hoping the appeals court grants them some additional lead time to work out a deal, as one tentatively cleared by Trump involving Oracle and Walmart taking on ownership of TikTok remains in flux pending the stamp of approval from Chinese officials, per Quartz. Additionally, the government still has until midnight tonight to issue an extension, Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond, told Bloomberg.

Which is to say that marketers hoping Nov. 12 would bring some finality to the TikTok saga are likely to be disappointed, if they’re still paying careful attention to the months-long imbroglio at all.

“My suspicion is that most marketers will care more about brand safety from the perspective of inappropriate and offensive content than anything relating to accusations around national security,” Alex Bronwsell, media editor at the researcher WARC, said over email. “As long as TikTok offers mass scale and helps them to engage otherwise hard to reach consumers, advertisers will likely be content to ride the waves of any political controversy — until such a time, of course, that consumer sentiment sours in a meaningful or lasting way.”

No signs of slowing down

When President Trump first issued an executive order pressing ByteDance to divest TikTok’s U.S. business over the summer, it set off a mad scramble speculating over the fate of one of the most exciting and innovative apps to hit the market in years.

TikTok has experienced explosive growth and become a favorite of young consumers who are elusive on traditional media channels, an enviable position that’s been strengthened as social media usage continues to spike during the pandemic. Marketers have subsequently flocked to the platform in droves, while TikTok has built out a stronger advertising business, including by introducing its first global marketing platform over the summer. The app in recent weeks has signed extensive deals with Sony Music and the e-commerce platform Shopify.

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Upward momentum for TikTok has been steady and strong enough that aggression from the White House has almost become a secondary consideration, as suggested by Brownsell. The Trump administration has also experienced some key setbacks.

An order that intended to prevent new downloads or software updates to TikTok starting Sept. 20 was blocked by Judge Carl Nichols of the U.S. District Court in Washington, ensuring the app could continue to acquire users and maintain its functionality. Then, late last month, a federal judge in Pennsylvania issued a separate injunction against restrictions against the app that were set to go into effect today, while not preventing the entire ban order from taking hold.

“There’s been some level of uncertainty about TikTok’s future for over a year now, and the demand for TikTok among marketers has grown exponentially,” Horowitz said, noting that his agency has recently signed blue-chip companies like Amazon and Disney to make their TikTok debuts.

The executive added that Movers+Shakers has “a big pipeline of launches” planned for the first quarter of next year as well.

‘Arbitrary and capricious’

In the petition to the U.S. Court of Appeals, TikTok and ByteDance described the Trump administration’s actions as “arbitrary and capricious” and pleaded with the court to review the situation and stop the forced divestiture of the app’s operations, per The Wall Street Journal.

If the White House remains as inattentive to the issue as the companies allege, and if the administration of projected president Biden is friendlier to Chinese businesses, it’s possible that TikTok will be able to land on sturdier footing in the months ahead, helping to enshrine its dominant status in the video app space. However, marketers should still be planning for any scenario, including an outright shutdown.

“Most U.S. marketers, in tandem with their agencies, will have put in place contingency plans in the event of a ban — while seeming unlikely, it won’t come as a total shock,” Brownsell said.

“We would expect most brands to redirect investment towards other platforms that can deliver youthful audiences, including Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube,” Brownsell added. “A temporary ban would allow advertisers to measure the contribution of TikTok to its marketing effectiveness, which is no bad thing. A longer ban, however, would result in further fragmentation of Gen Z audiences, making life harder for marketers chasing those audiences.”

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YouTube Tests Improved Comment Removal Notifications, Updated Video Performance and Hashtag Insights

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YouTube Expands its 'Pre-Publish Checks' Tool to the Mobile App

YouTube’s looking to provide more context on content removals and violations, while it’s also experimenting with a new form of analytics on average video performance benchmarks, along with improved hashtag discovery, which could impact your planning and process.

First off, on policy violations – YouTube’s looking to provide more context on comment removals via an updated system that will link users through to the exact policy that they’ve violated when a comment is removed.

As explained by YouTube’s Conor Kavanagh:

“Many users have told us that they would like to know if and when their comment has been removed for violating one of our Community Guidelines. Additionally, we want to protect creators from a single user’s ability to negatively impact the community via comments, either on a single channel or multiple channels.”

The new comment removal notification aims to address this, by providing more context as to when a comment has been removed for violating the platform’s Community Guidelines.

In expansion of this, YouTube will also put some users into timeout if they keep breaking the rules. Literally:

If someone leaves multiple abusive comments, they may receive a temporary timeout which will block the ability to comment for up to 24 hours.”

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YouTube says that this will hopefully reduce the amount of abusive comments across the platform, while also adding more transparency to the process, in order to help people understand how they’ve broken the rules, which could also help to guide future behavior.

On a similar note, YouTube’s also expanding its test of timestamps in Community Guidelines policy violation notifications for publishers, which provide more specific details on when a violation has occurred in video clips.

Initially only available for violations of its ‘Harmful and Dangerous’ policy, YouTube’s now expanding these notifiers to violations related to ‘Child Safety’, ‘Suicide and Self-Harm’, and ‘Violent or Graphic’.

If you’re in the experiment, you’ll see these timestamps in YouTube Studio as well as over email if we believe a violation has occurred. We hope these timestamps are useful in understanding why your video violated our policies and we hope to expand to more policies over time.”

On another front, YouTube’s also testing a new analytics card in YouTube Studio which will show creators the typical amount of views they get on different formats, including VODs, Shorts, and live streams.

YouTube average video performance

As you can see in this example, the new data card will provide insight into the average amount of views you see in each format, based on your the last 10 uploads in each, which could provide more comparative context on performance.

Finally, YouTube’s also launched a test that aims to showcase more relevant hashtags on video clips.

“We’re launching an experiment to elevate the hashtags on a video’s watch page that we’ve found viewers are interested in, instead of just the first few added to the video’s description. Hashtags are still chosen by creators themselves – nothing is changing there – the goal of the experiment is simply to drive more engagement with hashtags while connecting viewers with content they will likely enjoy.”

So YouTube will be looking to highlight more relevant hashtags in video clips, as a means to better connect users to more video clips on the same topic.

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Which could put more emphasis on hashtag use – so it could be time to upgrade your hashtag research approach in line with the latest trending topics.

All of these updates are fairly minor, but they could impact your YouTube approach, and it’s worth considering the potential impacts in your process.

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