Omar Oakes
Feb 2, 2021

WPP and TikTok partner on brand safety and ad innovation

TikTok has been working to improve its brand safety after recent incidents and concerns from major media-buying networks.

TikTok: has been working to improve brand safety (Picture: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/Getty)
TikTok: has been working to improve brand safety (Picture: AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/Getty)

WPP and TikTok have announced they are entering into a global partnership focused on developing new ad products on the video-sharing platform while bolstering its brand-safety measures.

TikTok, owned by Chinese company Bytedance, said it would also collaborate with its community of video makers to provide WPP advertisers with exclusive opportunities.

The global deal sees WPP take the role of lead agency development partner for new creator-focused APIs, which will incorporate WPP best practices concerning brand safety. 

The deal also covers marketing API integrations and new formats, such as augmented reality. 

Blake Chandlee, vice-president of global business solutions at TikTok, said: "Creative and media agencies play a major role in fuelling these creative campaigns [on TikTok], and we're excited to partner with a global innovator like WPP as we build for the future.

"We both share a common goal: to drive amazing campaigns for our clients that resonate with our growing audience in a way that is authentic, inspires creativity and brings joy.”

In late 2019, Campaign revealed that WPP’s media-buying arm Group M had considered TikTok as a “high risk” media platform because of then brand safety concerns and a lack of third-party verification, with a senior Publicis Groupe executive also calling for tighter brand safety measures at the time.

Now, Group M will work with TikTok on integrating the platform with third-party verification vendors, as well as developing “meaningful” controls on what data about users is included for advertising purposes. They intend to align with the Global Alliance for Responsible Media’s Brand Safety and Suitability Framework. 

TikTok has also received the IAB UK’s Gold Standard 2.0 certification, it announced on Friday, which demands companies show they are adhering to the GDPR and using the IAB Tech Lab’s ads.txt requirement.

The two companies also intend to jointly conduct market-leading research to guide brands on TikTok best practices and assist them with using data-informed strategies for driving engagement on TikTok. WPP said Group M has already worked with TikTok on training and it would continue advancing its buying capabilities through its network of specialists.  

TikTok, which exploded onto the media landscape in 2018, has had a meteoric rise in popularity in the UK and the US, particularly among  teenagers and young adults. Its UK user base is set to grow to reach the tens of millions this year.

But in 2019 it became mired in a series of brand safety and privacy incidents, including being investigated by the UK Information Commissioner's Office over the way it was handling the personal data of young users. In February 2019, the US Federal Trade Commission fined TikTok a record $5.7m (£4.1m) for illegally collecting the names, email addresses, pictures and locations of children under age 13. A report from Barnados also revealed that predators were targeting users as young as eight with sexually explicit messages.

Mark Read, WPP’s chief executive, added: “Our clients want new and innovative ways to reach consumers. TikTok has quickly demonstrated the power of mobile video and the many opportunities that exist for brands to engage in meaningful and creative ways on its platform. I am delighted that we have formed this global partnership, a first in our industry, and look forward to working with TikTok to ensure our clients continue to benefit from what its platform has to offer.”    

Campaign UK

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