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TikTok Pledges $250 Million to Support Various Groups Impacted by COVID-19



Rising video app TikTok has announced a new $250 million donation to assist frontline workers combating COVID-19, which comes in addition to the app’s $10 million donation to the World Health Organization, which it announced last month.

As per TikTok:

We are committed to playing our part in that global outpouring of mutual support and giving. We want to magnify all we are seeing across our community and translate it into concrete relief for those most affected by this crisis.”

TikTok’s latest donation will be split into several elements:

  • $150 million in funding will go towards medical staffing, supplies and hardship relief for health care workers
  • $40 million in cash will be allocated to local organizations which serve diverse user communities, including musicians, artists, nurses and educators
  • TikTok will also match up to $10 million in donations from its user community to support initiatives launched by TikTok users
  • And an additional $50 million will go towards grants for educators, professional experts, and nonprofits that are working to provide distance learning resources during the global lockdowns

​​In addition to this, TikTok will also provide $100 million in ad credits to help businesses get back on their feet once they’re able to resume normal activity, while it’s also allocating $25 million in “prominent in-feed ad space” to NGOs, trusted health sources, and local authorities to help them distribute key health messages in the app.

In total, the funding takes TikTok’s commitment to more than $385 million to assist with the COVID-19 outbreak. That seems like a lot, especially for a platform that’s not yet generating significant income – though TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, and sister app ‘Douyin’, are generating significant revenue, enabling it to make these funding pledges.

ByteDance reportedly brought in $20 billion in revenue in 2019, while Douyin, the Chinese-only version of TikTok, generated some $122 million in revenue for the year, largely fueled by eCommerce integrations within the app. 

Douyin eCommerce

That’s likely where TikTok will also be heading with its own monetization tools. Thus far, no app has been able to successfully monetize short-form video, as the time limits make disruptive ads non-viable, meaning that they require a different approach to regular video content.

TikTok, which reportedly generated around $36 million in revenue in the US last year, has already started moving towards eCommerce tools within the app. It’s testing product links in clips, and external linking options, in order to provide more revenue generation options for creators. TikTok also recently shared this video in regards to its monetization focus, which highlights eCommerce integration.

TikTok’s seen a big jump in usage amid the COVID-19 lockdowns, and its charitable donations will help to amplify its outreach efforts, while also providing support for relevant communities. The next stage, however, is for TikTok to maximize the attention it’s getting by integrating revenue-generation tools for creators – because if it doesn’t, those popular users will quickly learn that they can make more money on other platforms, and abandon TikTok, leaving it to the same fate as Vine before it. 


Strategy aside, TikTok’s donations are significant, and will provide assistance to many in need, and the platform should be praised for taking positive action. They’re also helping to solidify TikTok’s place within the wider social media landscape – and if TikTok can improve its brand reputation, and deliver better monetization tools, it’ll be on the way to making itself a more important consideration moving forward.



Instagram Tests Out New Ad Options, Including Explore Placement and Interactive AR Displays



Instagram Tests Out New Ad Options, Including Explore Placement and Interactive AR Displays

As we head into the holiday shopping push, Instagram has announced that it’s testing out some new ad options, in the hopes of maximizing its revenue intake, while also providing new opportunities for brands.

Though I can’t imagine that these will be entirely popular additions with users.

First off, Instagram’s adding new ads into Explore, with the first page of Explore now set to feature a new ad unit in the content feed.

As you can see in this example, that’s a pretty big ad. Instagram hasn’t clarified if all of these new Explore ads will be featured as prominently as this, but the option will provide another means to reach IG users ‘in the earliest stages of discovering new content they care about’.

It could be a good consideration, with a chance to get your products featured in the main discovery feed in the app.

Instagram’s also testing ads in profile feed – ‘which is the feed experience that people can scroll through after visiting another account’s profile and tapping on a post’.

So now, if you check out someone’s profile, and tap on a post, you’ll also be eligible to be served ads in that dedicated stream of their content, essentially inserting ads into another surface in the app.


Instagram’s also looking into whether this option could also be used as a monetization opportunity for creators, as that activity will be tied back to an individual profile and content.

Instagram’s also testing what it’s calling ‘Multi-Advertiser Ads’, which will display more promotions from similar businesses to users after they’ve engaged with an ad.

Instagram ad updates

As per Instagram:

“When a person expresses commercial intent by engaging with an ad, we deliver more ads from other businesses that may be of interest, powered by machine learning.”

So Instagram’s looking to push even more related businesses at you, stacking ads upon ads. I don’t know how effective that will be, but in theory, it could get your brand in front of interested users based on previous ad engagement.

Finally, Instagram’s also launched an open beta of its AR Ads, which will be available in both feed and Stories in the app.

Instagram ads update

As you can see here, Instagram’s AR ads, built in its Spark AR platform, will invite users to interact with their ad content, which could also include positioning virtual furniture in their home, or test driving a car in the app.

Which Meta also says will help brands align with future engagement shifts:

“By giving businesses tools to create more personalized and immersive experiences today we’ll help them drive performance and prepare for the metaverse.”

I mean, AR and the metaverse, which is largely VR-based (going on the examples we’ve seen thus far) are not the same thing, but the creation of 3D objects will play a part in that next stage, and could help to advance your thinking on ad approaches.


These are some interesting ad considerations, but they’ll also see a lot more promotions being squeezed into your Instagram feeds, which, as noted, likely won’t be welcomed by users.

But with parent company Meta under rising pressure, Instagram has to do its part. And while leaning into further Reels, and forcing in more ads, may not be a great play, long-term, the usage and engagement data will ultimately tell the tale.

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