Expert interview: Three minutes with TikTok

Blogs > Expert interview: Three minutes with TikTok

The Bango ‘Three Minutes With’ series talks with app developers and industry experts around the world to get their views and experiences with user acquisition and monetization in the global marketplace. In the latest article, Bango Audiences talks with TikTok.

TikTok is the leading destination for short-form mobile video, with the mission “to inspire creativity and joy”. Based in California, Mike Gubman is on the team that leads business development and distribution partnerships for ByteDance (TikTok) in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

In your experience, do you think UA has changed in the last few years?

Absolutely. Mobile User Acquisition has evolved in response to the way people use mobile phones. Two decades into mobile app experiences, consumers are far more selective than they were in the past. I think the core value proposition of an app needs to be very clearly demonstrated before most people are willing to download a new app.  

Lockdown has seen a new willingness to download apps without reservations, but I think that’s temporary behavior. As the world begins to reopen in some fashion, we’ll see people taking more time to consider downloading a new app. Proving the value to the consumer right away, even before the app has launched, is increasingly important for every app developer. We’re very excited to begin experimenting with the new App Clips and Instant App functionality that will help consumers try an app before downloading.

Do you think UA and monetization should be considered together?

For us, monetization and UA are mostly separate. UA is about bringing new users to our app. Monetization is about helping advertisers reach people on our platform. 

However, it depends so much on the business model. Typically, the business models I’m working on see us focus first on UA at the top of the funnel. Once the users are inside our application, we work to monetize them in a number of different ways, such as subscriptions, advertising and, increasingly, virtual gifting and virtual coins. These days apps have multiple monetization models and it’s not a one size fits all.

At what stage does monetization become your priority?

Apps are so rich and multi-faceted, so there are multiple types of experiences that people have.

All of these experiences are monetized differently. Some people want to pay with their attention; some people want to pay with money; some people want to pay by referring friends or doing other activities within the app. The world is incredibly diverse and it’s our job to cater to a variety of users.

What do you do to capture surges in mobile consumption around seasonal peaks such as national holidays?

Plan early! I start working on the holiday season at the beginning of each summer, if not earlier. If you miss that cycle, it can take more than a year to really get back on track.

It may seem like common sense, but aligning the value your app brings to channel partners is paramount. I always try to imagine the promotion from the partner’s perspective and ask, “How does my UA approach and app further their KPIs?” This approach helps to ensure that our app receives strong promotion as part of their campaigns. It should be a natural fit rather than something forced. A forced partnership is hard to market.

What will you do differently in your UA campaigns going forward into 2021?

I think it will be important to remain sensitive to the needs and issues affecting people beyond the world of mobile apps. There is a real need to help provide educational and entertaining content in an easily and freely accessible way. Focusing on those core needs will naturally drive more UA and encourage partnerships that increase distribution via co-marketing.