Despite uncertain US future, TikTok launches Branded Effects for marketers

While the U.S. government debates TikTok’s future following last week’s congressional hearing, the video entertainment platform today announced a new product called Branded Effects aimed at businesses marketing themselves on its platform. The solution will allow brands to collaborate with TikTok effect creators to design custom effects — like AR experiences and other interactive features — to accompany their online campaigns and marketing efforts.

The solution, Effect House Branded Effects, is an extension of TikTok’s existing development platform Effect House, launched roughly a year ago. With Effect House, the company had put the tools needed to develop AR effects into creators’ hands, allowing them to extend TikTok’s existing AR effect library — a competitive feature for its app.

The suite also includes other things AR effect creators would need to get started, like templates, tutorials, and documentation that explains how to create specific types of effects, like Segmentation, Face Mask, Head Tracker, Face Stretch and 3D Face, as well as how to use different textures, materials, lighting and shadows, and more.

Now, with the launch of Branded Effects, businesses can begin to work with TikTok’s top effect creators to build out effects for the brand’s social media and online campaigns that also include specific features, like calls-to-action or custom audience targeting, among other things.

Brands can use Branded Effects to engage users in a number of ways, like offering ways to virtually try-on makeup, change the user’s hair color, have them put on a hat, overlay a sticker or frame onto the video, follow dance moves, use head movements to steer a vehicle, unlock animations by scanning images, text or objects in real life and more.

The company suggests the product makes sense for a range of businesses, including brands working in spaces like personal care, beauty, consumer packaged goods, entertainment and retail.

TikTok says Branded Effects also allow the brand to boost their content to a wider audience through things like paid branding traffic solutions and can place their effects in premium placements on the effect panel’s “Trending” tab for greater visibility. In addition, TikTok says all its ad formats support showcasing the Branded Effects and can drive viewers to the app’s Effects Page, where the Branded Effect could then be selected with a tap.

Brands are also able to control what brand-safe videos appear on the effect’s detail page to ensure that only appropriate or positive videos are showcased when TikTok users look up the effect on the app to see how other people are using it.

“We’ve seen brands use effects on TikTok in all kinds of creative ways to reach new audiences, share stories, and build community,” said Greg Feingold, Effect House Community Lead, in a statement. “By working with top Effect House creators to create effects, brands can further harness the creativity and authenticity of the TikTok community.”

TikTok noted that Microsoft was among the businesses already using effects to reach TikTok’s online community. In a blog post, TikTok said that Microsoft 365’s agency Superdigital had leveraged Effect House to create the WordArt You effect in partnership with Effect House creators Eddy Adams (@eddyin3d) and Jan Trejo (@janmahavan), which resulted in 126,000 TikTok videos featuring the effect and millions of views.

Another early adopter, Mucinex, ran a Branded Effect campaign that saw a 42.7% lift in purchase intent, according to an online case study. Other Branded Effect testers included beauty brand Laneige, gum maker Dirol, Netflix Germany and Shoppers Drug Mart.

The timing of the announcement is interesting, given the threat of a potential TikTok ban in the U.S. has had advertisers scrambling to develop contingency plans as to where to shift their marketing efforts if TikTok is no longer accessible. As Reuters recently reported, brands and agencies have been having meetings, but for some seeing strong performance from their TikTok ads, there’s no plan to pull out as of yet. The report also cited data from Insider Intelligence that claims TikTok’s U.S. ad revenue is expected to reach $6.83 billion this year, from $780 million in 2020.

TikTok had announced just ahead of the hearing its platform now reaches 150 million monthly active users in the U.S.