Carol Huang
Aug 27, 2020

Douyin to disallow links to external e-commerce sites from livestreams

ByteDance's video-sharing service is taking a step to favour its own e-commerce site rather than those of rivals.

Douyin to disallow links to external e-commerce sites from livestreams

ByteDance's Douyin—the China short-video app that became TikTok when exported to the rest of the world—is taking a step to keep to itself the revenue from goods that are sold during livestreams on its platform. The platform will disallow links from livestreams to third-party e-commerce sites starting in September.

The change does not apply to short video posts, where users can still link to third-party platforms.

Specifically, starting on September 6, KOLs will not be able offer direct links to external platforms. However, outgoing links that are placed through a Douyin-run service, for which it charges a fee, will still be allowed. On October 9, all third-party product links on livestreams will be disallowed.

Douyin started development on its own e-commerce platform last year and accelerated it this year. The company officially formed its e-commerce department before the June 18 sales festival this year.

Douyin's relationships with third-party platforms are best characterised as love-hate relationships, and will remain so. Last week, for example, the company formed a partnership with Taobao to cooperate on advertising and e-commerce. Since Douyin is an advertising distribution platform, it's not really contradictory for it to be starting its own e-commerce platform (and forcibly directing traffic to it), while also selling traffic to Taobao at the same time.

However, both content creators and users on Douyin are accustomed to using Taobao or JD.com to transact purchases, and may not like being forced into the Douyin platform. In fact, some KOLs are contractually obligated to send traffic to platforms like Taobao or JD.com.

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