TikTok Shop is Open(ing) for Business

TIKTOK DOES MORE BUSINESS THAN ANY OTHER APP, AND IT’S JUST GETTING STARTED

What was once written off as a silly lip-syncing app just did over $1 Billion of in-app purchases in a single quarter, which put it at the top of the app stores worldwide, and they haven’t even started selling stuff.

But first, what exactly are in-app purchases? Turns out that it’s almost entirely something called TikTok Coins.

We’re not talking about purchases that people make when they click on a Zara ad and then buy on Zara.com. Instead, the Billion dollars we’re talking about changing hands for three specific purposes:

  1. Sending gifts on TikTok Live

  2. Sending gifts in comment sections

  3. Buying a TikTok promotion

Weird, right? Those all feel like pretty niche use cases, and yet more people spent real live currency on TikTok Coins than even the most popular mobile game or streaming platform.

I should offer a bit of a caveat here. To me, the number feels counterfeit because of that third point: TikTok promotion. Creators can use their TikTok Coins to effectively boost their posts in front of more people. They’re buying advertising, which every other platform is categorized differently, so the numbers are artificially inflated, but I digress.

The next step is to let businesses in on this spending frenzy, which they’re doing with TikTok Shops. If you’ve ever used Tmall, which is China’s largest platform for brands to sell directly to shoppers, then TikTok shops will look familiar. They’re creating a marketplace where registered sellers can list and sell products to users without them ever having to click out of the app.

Facebook, Google, and Amazon all have similar marketplaces, but none of them have the cultural significance or the absolute grip on our attention spans that TikTok does.

If you sell just about anything online, you’ll want to check this out, because it’s still very early, and the early days are typically when the competition is lowest, margins are greatest, and brands can entrench themselves into a position that is difficult for competitors to replicate.

Apply to be a TikTok Seller here

Read more about the program here

THE BRIEF WINS THE CSUITE AWARD FOR TOP NEWSLETTER

This is more than a humble brag, it’s a thank you. The Brief only happens because we have so many smart, creative, and generous folks who read and share their thoughts every week, so I just want to say that I appreciate you letting us into your inboxes every week.

It’s also a perfect opportunity for me to shine a light on the team that made this email happen. While some people may associate these ideas as coming straight from my head, it is very much a team effort, so I’d love to take a moment to introduce to the people whose work you know very well already:

Flynn Lowry — he runs our client projects, manages the eLearningU platform, and scours the internet for the stories we write about each week. Just about every story that shows up here is because Flynn dug it up, researched it, and/or taught us all something new before we were able to write about it. He’s also the last set of eyes that reviews each week’s email before we hit Send.

Martina Benvegnu — she manages our client relationships, conducts research, and organizes our findings into client-facing reports/presentations. Martina is the reason that The Brief looks as good as it does, and she also helps to share our content, translating it into the Articles on our website, and the Stories on our IG.

So the next time this email makes you think, teaches you something, or inspires you to try something new, I hope that you give at least as much credit to Flynn and Martina as you do to the name that appears in your subject line.

You can see more winners and learn more about the CSuite Awards here.

SHOPIFY IS STANDING UP TO THE TAX POLICE

CEO TOBI LUTKE CALLS IT “LOW-KEY-OVERREACH”

The Internet (or at least Tobi’s followers) were up in arms this week when the CEO of Shopify tweeted:

“I don’t particularly want a fight with the CRA (Canada’s tax authority)- but we got asked to backchannel them 6 years of records for all Canadian Shopify stores. This feels like a low-key overreach to me. We will fight this.”

There is no official statement from the CRA yet, but the implication is that, if you are based in Canada and selling anything on Shopify, now would be a good time to make sure that your taxes are in order.

The question everyone’s asking is: Can they do this? While it may feel like a violation, it is actually fairly common practice for the Canadian tax police to gather records from both sides of the transaction. Most recently, the CRA dropped a similar order for information on PayPal in 2017 and eBay in 2008.

According to @TheTaxHeroes on Twitter, the order is likely to stick, and he offers some advice to anyone who may be concerned for their own tax records:

  • They’re probably realistically only looking at like the top 5% of stores

  • Sometimes they’re willing to negotiate

  • If you have a Shopify store and have not reported earnings, this is a good time to reach out to an accountant or tax attorney

META & GOOGLE ARE GOING TO HAVE TO PAY JOURNALISTS

A RECENT CANADIAN LAW REQUIRES COMPENSATION FOR NEWS

It’s called Bill C-18 and the Canadian legislation has been getting a lot of attention around the world. While the law is limited to Canadians, it is also a continuation of a fight that has been going on in Europe, Australia, and other places as we try to figure out how to maintain journalism in a world dominated by a small number of massively powerful news distributors.

As is the case with online information, not all of what’s been shared about the bill is accurate. I saw some particularly inflammatory statements going around, so I read the bill for myself. It’s publicly available here (and it’s a pretty easy read).

I then took to Instagram to share my thoughts in a Story posted to @heyjunction. We’ve given the story its own highlights so you can jump straight to it.

Here’s the TLDR;

  • Bill C-18 requires large tech platforms that distribute news stories to compensate the news organizations responsible for that content.

  • It does not dictate how, or how much, they should pay. They’ve left that to be negotiated among the companies.

  • It does not censor any publication or news organization.

  • Meta and Google are threatening to block Canadian news in Canada rather than negotiate.

  • They pulled the same thing in Australia, and gave in after 1 week.

If Meta and/or Google do go through with their threat(s), it will likely happen on the date when the bill goes into action, which is not yet known.

We’ll keep you posted as this story develops.

PINTEREST’S NEW TOYS

PREMIERE SPOTLIGHT AND TRAVEL CATALOGS

For digital marketers, Pinterest is one of the most valuable and least talked about platforms, and they’ve just announced two new features that are going to make their offering even more interesting:

  1. Premiere Spotlight is a new, high-impact awareness ad solution designed to help advertisers reach audiences at scale. It allows advertisers to buy high value real estate, such as specific search results, placing their video ads in front of users for a specified period of time. Imagine, for example, a kitchen brand could see a TikTok trend and then search for the results for that recipe or technique.

  2. Travel Catalogs builds on Pinterest’s product catalog technology, allowing travel brands to easily upload their products to the platform. Once their catalog is uploaded, Pinterest automatically turns each listing into a dynamic product Pin with relevant travel booking information, such as hotel brand name, pricing, images, descriptions and more, as well as a link to the booking website. Brands can also target users based on location data provided in their feed to reach more travelers.

Learn more about the Pinterest updates here

A FEW FOR THE ROAD

MORE NEWS TO KEEP YOU ON THE CUTTING EDGE