TikTok Wants More Ad Dollars, and It Has a New Plan to Get Them

“It’s an old technology on a new medium, and it’ll be interesting for the traditional agencies of the world to embrace,” he said.

TikTok has been popular in the United States for less than five years, but it has spawned a cultural economy that includes coalitions of influencers, marketing agencies dedicated solely to the platform and, the company said this week, more than a billion monthly users around the world.

Without the app, the musician Lil Nas X would probably not be a Grammy winner ascending the Met Gala steps in golden armor. Leggings would not be flying off the shelves, and trend-watchers would not struggle to decode what the “cheugy” aesthetic really means.

This year, the share of people who were exposed to ads on TikTok nearly doubled, to 37 percent from 19 percent last year, according to the research firm Kantar, which surveyed more than 14,500 people in 23 regions. The platform was considered to have the most entertaining ads — but more people complained that they were encountering too many of them on the app.

“We don’t want to interrupt the experience,” said Blake Chandlee, TikTok’s president of global business solutions. “We want users to look at an ad and go, ‘That was amazing,’ not, ‘I watched that because it was in my feed.’”

When Mr. Chandlee joined TikTok in 2019 after more than a decade at Facebook, the app had only a few dozen advertisers. Partway through the pandemic, TikTok became a serious competitor to television and other platforms, he said. Now it has hundreds of thousands of advertisers, he said.

Advertising is responsible for the “lion’s share” of TikTok’s revenue, Mr. Chandlee said, adding that the company is also testing subscriptions and tipping. And yet TikTok draws less than $1.3 billion in annual ad sales in the U.S., compared with $2.2 billion for Twitter, $2.6 billion for LinkedIn and $48 billion for Facebook and Instagram, according to the research firm eMarketer.

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