Recommendations for TikTok’s Political Ad Strategy (Part 1): Executive Summary

In January 2020, I was asked to provide recommendations for TikTok’s political ad strategy. This research was conducted using publicly available information and is accurate as of February 2020. Part 1 is the executive summary. Part 2 elaborates on strategic considerations. Part 3 elaborates on specific measures. Another version of the content covered across these three posts can be found here.

This post contains the executive summary of the research as well as an overview of the political ad strategies adopted by Facebook, Google, Twitter and Snapchat. The subsequent two posts will elaborate on the strategic considerations and concrete measures recommended for TikTok’s political ad strategy.

Executive Summary

First, this paper provides a high level overview of TikTok’s ad placement, ad formats and ad targeting and TikTok’s current policy on political advertising and an overview of the political ad strategies adopted by Facebook, Google, Twitter and Snapchat is compiled into a table.

This paper provides two types of recommendations.

The first is a list of strategic considerations that should inform the development of TikTok’s political ad strategy. They are:

  1. Monetization should not be the emphasis of TikTok’s political ad strategy.
  2. TikTok’s political ad policy must cohere with product strategy, content moderation policy and localization strategy. This has significant organizational implications as coordination among the teams working on these different aspects of TikTok is necessary.
  3. Rightly or wrongly, TikTok is perceived as a “Chinese app” and should expect to receive extra, perhaps even unfair, scrutiny of its ad/content moderation policies.

The second is a list of high-level measures TikTok should adopt. They are:

  1. Emulate the best practices by US tech companies.
    • Require identity verification, disclosure, disclaimer and ad labelling for political/issues ads
    • Roll out country-specific rule-setting and rule-enforcement
    • Limit targeting capabilities for political/issue ads
    • Build out an ad archiveThe extent of TikTok’s investments in these measures is a function of how much it expects to grow and the scrutiny it expects to receive.
  2. Use internal alignment and external transparency to mitigate complexity.
    • Internal alignment: ensure rules, processes, and priorities are simple, transparent and widely publicized
    • External transparency: communicate with external stakeholders with a presumption towards transparency and assume internal decisions will receive external scrutiny
  3. Advocate for government regulations
    • Many issues of political advertising (and content moderation) are really public policy issues that should be determined by governments, not companies
    • Such regulations are likely to consolidate the position of incumbent companies


首先,本文对 TikTok的广告位置、广告格式当前的政治广告政策进行了初步概括。

其次,本文对Facebook,Google,Twitter 和 Snapchat 的政治广告政策进行了详细的分析,将其根据几个维度分解,并把结果汇总在一个表格中


建议一:关于 TikTok 在制定政治广告政策的战略考量:

  1. 变现不应该是 TikTok 政治广告政策的重点。
  2. TikTok 政治广告政策必须保持产品战略、内容审核政策及本地化策略的一致性。这意味着在组织层面,TikTok 必须确保负责这些不同工作的团队之间有足够的协调。
  3. TikTok 在国外被认为是个“中国APP”,因此其广告政策和内容审核政策,一定会收到更多、甚至是双重标准的外界审查。

建议二:关于TikTok 应该采取的具体措施:

  1. 效仿美国互联网公司的最佳实践:
    • 要求刊登政治广告的广告商满足身份验证、强制性披露、免责声明和广告标签等要求
    • 制定和执行细化到不同国家层面的规则
    • 限制政治/议题广告可用的定位受众群体
    • 建立对外界开放的广告档案馆

TikTok 在这些措施上投入多少资源,取决于其增长预期以及受到外界审查的程度。

  1. 利用内部协调和外界透明来应对广告政策的复杂性
    • 内部协调:规则、过程、和优先级别要简单、透明、公开
    • 外界透明:保持和外部 stakeholder 的良好沟通,并假设内部决策将受到外部审查
  2. 提倡各国政府实施更严谨的管制
    • 政治广告(及内容审核)涉及到的很多问题其实是公共政策问题,应该由政府和社会决定,而不是由公司解决
    • 更严谨的管制将有助于巩固已拥有一定市场份额的公司的地位