Potential TikTok ban sends advertisers scrambling

In a section of the email titled “Can the Chinese government request TikTok US user data?” the company wrote that Project Texas “prevents inappropriate access to that data, including no approval mechanism by which US data would be shared with the Chinese government”.

A TikTok spokesperson said the company is engaging with advertisers “in open, fact-based, and ongoing dialogue that includes providing regular updates and addressing questions about the ways we’re working to build a trusted entertainment platform for users and brands”.  

Even with talk of a ban, most advertisers have not changed their spending plans on TikTok, media buyers said, because discussions of a ban have lingered since 2020 without any result.

TikTok CEO Chew plans to tell lawmakers on Thursday that the company has never, and would never, share US user data with the Chinese government, according to written testimony posted by the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee.

But it is a critical moment for TikTok, which has grown exponentially in importance to advertisers as the app’s user numbers have surged in the two years since then-President Donald Trump first explored a ban of the app.

The renewed concerns over TikTok seem to have escalated quickly in the past few weeks, catching some brands off guard, D’Altorio said.

Some clients that are publicly-traded companies had been reluctant to buy ads on TikTok since 2020, and their wariness has only continued. “They say ‘we don’t want to touch this,'” he said.

Vinny Rinaldi, Hershey Co’s head of media and analytics, said on Wednesday that the Reese’s Cup maker built a contingency plan if TikTok is shut off in the U.S.

Hershey spends the least on TikTok compared to other social platforms, Rinaldi said, but it’s an “area of growth (that is) working well.” His bet is that TikTok users switch to YouTube if the platform shuts down. 

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