By Catherine Wolf ↗  •  March 21, 2024  •  5 min read  •

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This research is based on unique data collected from our proprietary audience of publisher, agency, brand and tech insiders. It’s available to Digiday+ members. More from the series → ↗

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In this week’s Digiday+ Research Briefing, we examine how a U.S. ban on TikTok could cause agency investments to move to other platforms, how publishers are focused on direct-sold ads this year and how the ANA is instituting a “programmatic benchmarking report,” as seen in recent data from Digiday+ Research.

Creators received over 128,000 views per Shorts video, on average

With a bill to ban ByteDance-owned TikTok in the U.S. moving through Congress, social and influencer agencies are putting measures in place to protect from losses in audience, commerce business and other traffic from the app. Influencer agency Socially Powerful, for example, always utilizes at least three platforms per influencer to minimize risks and ensure they have audiences in different apps.

In the short term, a TikTok ban could cause investments to move to Meta platforms, YouTube, Amazon ads or even some emerging apps like Flip — sort of “a TikTok Shop on steroids,” explained James Hacking, Socially Powerful’s founder. “We’ll see a lot of diversification from brands who are looking to deploy budgets onto other platforms.”

Many U.S. brands and creators have already been experimenting with YouTube Shorts to expand their social media reach. Digiday+ Research recently analyzed a list of beauty and fashion influencers ↗ making waves on YouTube to assess their performance as brand partners. A key observation from that analysis was influencers’ ability to bring together niche communities and communicate brand messages through YouTube Shorts. With less need to highly curate and edit these shorter videos, creators have more flexibility to be creative and court genuine interactions with viewers.

In Digiday’s analysis, all of the 11 influencers included in the study received high viewership numbers from the Shorts videos they posted, with each individual garnering, on average, thousands to hundreds of thousands of views per Shorts video. Across all videos posted by the influencers, the group received an average of 128,786 views per Shorts video. Seemingly, this short-form content is helping influencers gain new viewers and also new subscribers — positioning influencers for brand partnerships and brands themselves to find an audience on a short-form video platform other than TikTok.

Insights and stats:

  • “Should the [TikTok] ban happen, it would be a disaster for brands that have developed huge audiences — especially for those where TikTok is a crucial driver for traffic to e-commerce websites.” — James Hacking, founder of influencer agency Socially Powerful
  • Shoppable Shorts debuted in June 2022, providing viewers with the ability to shop for products shown in the short-form videos. Only four of the 11 influencers posted sponsored or Shoppable Shorts videos, but shoppable videos are proving to be a growing business opportunity for influencers and brands.
  • Influencers hoping to grow their Shorts audiences have been repurposing content from TikTok or Instagram for YouTube. However, brands are starting to develop separate strategies for YouTube Shorts, and influencers are beginning to create more original content for Shorts specifically — and some of it is shoppable.

Read more about how brands and influencers are using YouTube Shorts ↗

Digiday+ Research digest

Publishers’ revenue priorities lie with direct-sold ads this year, while they’re letting up on the gas for other areas of their business, including subscriptions and affiliate commerce. More than three-quarters of publisher professionals (76%) said in Q1 2024 that they will put a large or very large focus on growing their direct-sold ads business in the coming months, up from 63% in Q1 2023. Direct-sold ads also remain the top revenue source for publishers — 84% of publisher pros said direct-sold ads account for at least a very small portion of their revenue in Q1 2024. That is according to Digiday+ Research surveys of more than 150 publisher professionals.

The stats:

  • Affiliate commerce saw the biggest drop in share of publishers’ revenue between last year and this year. In Q1 2023, nearly two-thirds of publisher pros (62%) said affiliate commerce accounted for at least a very small portion of their revenue. In Q1 2024, less than half (45%) said the same.
  • Revenue from subscriptions also took a hit. This year, 56% of publisher pros said they get at least a very small portion of their revenue from subscriptions, down from the 62% of publisher pros who said the same in Q1 2023.
  • Only 58% of publishers said that they would put at least a very small focus on growing their affiliate commerce business in the next six months compared with 70% of publishers who said they would last year. Similarly, 59% of publishers said they would put at least a very small focus on building their subscriptions business in the next six months, down from 73% of publishers last year.

Read more about publishers’ 2024 revenue priorities ↗

The Association of National Advertisers is kicking off a transparency initiative, or “programmatic benchmarking report,” that aims to help its members better account for their media spending. The new ANA initiative will initially invite marketers who participated in the ANA’s 2023 study ↗ to evaluate the efficiency of their programmatic supply chain in conjunction with TAG TrustNet. ​​A recent report from Adalytics ↗ uncovered that hundreds of major advertisers unknowingly placed ads on so-called “made for advertising” websites — a major problem highlighted in the ANA’s ad tech audits of the last year. Nevertheless, agency clients still see programmatic as an important part of their marketing budgets ↗, according to Digiday+ Research surveys of over 350 agency professionals throughout 2022 and 2023.

The stats:

  • Ninety-eight percent of agency pros whose clients put marketing budget into online display ads spend at least a very small portion of their budgets on programmatic ads.
  • Nearly two-thirds of agency professionals (61%) said their clients spend a moderate, large or very large portion of their budgets on programmatic display ads, versus just over one-third (35%) who said their clients spend a moderate, large or very large portion of their marketing budgets on direct-sold display ads. 
  • The percentage of agency clients who spend a lot on programmatic display ads has been trending downward. In Q3 2022, nearly half of agency pros (43%) said their clients who invest in online display ads spend a large or very large portion of their budgets on programmatic ads. That percentage fell to 35% in Q1 2023, and to 30% in Q3 2023.

Read more about agency clients’ programmatic spending ↗See research from all Digiday Media Brands:

Digiday+ Research ↗

Glossy+ Research ↗

Modern Retail+ Research ↗

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