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TikTok’s Business, in Charts

I'm so jealous of Steve Mnuchin...he gets to force TikTok to sell to a group of his political insiders after they threaten to shut the social media outlet down. Brilliant. Steve's a modern-day Henry Hill.

TikTok’s Business, in Charts

Billions of dollars in ad revenue—and many highly engaged users—would be in play if the U.S. passes a ban or forces a sale

By Nate Rattner and Peter Santilli, WSJ

Updated March 16, 2024 10:08 am ET

A U.S. ban of TikTok could cost Americans a favorite app, creators a popular outlet, and advertisers an emerging platform. Though far from certain, its removal would also open the door for competitors eager to compete for attention and ad dollars.

The Chinese-owned service known for its short-form videos has been downloaded more than other major social-media apps in the U.S. each quarter since 2020, according to Apptopia.

TikTok has also emerged as a small but fast-growing player in the advertising space.

The platform recorded $6.6 billion in U.S. digital ad revenue last year, according to estimates from Emarketer. While only 2.4% of the market, that represents 32% growth from the prior year.

TikTok’s users are highly engaged, spending more than 90 minutes a day on the platform on average, according to Apptopia. That’s more than users of YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat.

YouTube and Instagram each offer short-video features in their apps and would likely be the biggest winners of a TikTok ban, said Tom Grant, vice president of research at Apptopia. Americans might also choose to spend some of their freed-up minutes with other types of entertainment such as streaming services, gaming or dating apps.

What questions do you have about the potential TikTok ban? Join the conversation below.

“If you take TikTok away, it’s not like well, I have a budget of time I spend on social,” Grant said. “It’s more like, this really fun, cool, engaging thing is gone.”

Other social platforms including YouTube and Instagram and localized short-video apps Moj and Josh saw user growth in India in the year following that country’s banning of TikTok in 2020, according to an analysis by research firm Sensor Tower.

Despite its place as one of the most-used social-media apps in the U.S., TikTok isn’t the growth engine it once was. Average monthly active users are down over the past year, data show.

Monthly active users in the U.S., change from a year earlier

TikTok trails YouTube, Facebook and Instagram in terms of total U.S. monthly users, according to Sensor Tower data as of February.

A third of U.S. adults and 62% of 18- to 29-year-olds say they use TikTok, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted last year. More than half of Americans use YouTube and Facebook, the survey found.

Kara Dapena contributed to this article.

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