Dan Page (00:00):

We're not the young singing and dancing app, we're far from that. We lean into education, we lean into hacks. When we say make TikToks, we're saying be authentic to the platform. Pay attention to what the trends are. Pay attention to who the creators are. Pay attention to what works, and use that as an inspiration as the starting point, so that you're actually delivering some value to the audience, versus trying to force a product or service on them.

James Kotecki (00:38):

This is CES Tech Talk. I'm James Kotecki. CES 2023 is January 5th through 8th in Las Vegas. We are here to get you hyped and get you smart about the world's most influential tech event. Today Tech Talk talks TikTok. And look, you're a savvy person. You listen to this podcast, you know what TikTok is. It's the social media platform taking over the world. So, can this mobile-centric platform reach people on new screens? Let's ask TikTok's, Head of Global Business Development, New Screens, Dan Page. Dan, so excited to have you here. And before we get started, with all the things about new screens that we want to talk about, set the stage for us at CES 2023. What will the TikTok presence actually look like?

Dan Page (01:26):

Hi, James. First, let me say it's an honor to be on this podcast. I'm a huge fan of CES and I've been attending for the past 10 years, so I'm super excited to get back to the floor. I'm really excited about connecting with fellow colleagues, future and past business partners, and finding new and interesting ways that we can collaborate to get TikTok on screens outside of mobile.

James Kotecki (01:50):

And of course, if we think about the TikTok presence at CES, a lot of people with TikTok on their phones that are creating content. And a lot of the way that people consume CES, especially if they don't actually get to go to the floor, is going to be through TikTok in many cases. But beyond that, tell me what TikTok is trying to achieve, when you talk about the concept of new screens.

Dan Page (02:12):

So as we know, we are truly mobile first platform. We are also an entertainment platform that is powered by our community and brings joy to people around the world. There's also an additional 2 billion that's right, 2 billion with a B, additional screens across the world outside of mobile. Our aim is to bring that entertainment experience to those screens.

James Kotecki (02:36):

I think this is an interesting almost philosophical question, because if I think about some of your social media predecessors, I can imagine what Twitter looks like on a desktop. I've used it on desktop many times. Facebook originally built on a desktop that I was accessing from my dorm room and then it eventually moved to mobile. TikTok, as you mentioned, really mobile first. What does it mean to be on a different screen and still be TikTok?

Dan Page (03:00):

As most people know, TikTok is mobile first. It started on mobile. It's originated on mobile, but we are truly an entertainment platform. TikTok runs on a content graph. So it's not about who you know, it's about what interests you. So the algorithm keeps presenting you with new interests, whether that's on your mobile phone, whether that's on the big screen in your living room with family and friends. The heart of TikTok is the algorithm and knowing to deliver you content that entertains you, educates you, makes you laugh. We think we can do a pretty good job of this in the living room. I can't speak for other apps and how others have translated to other screens versus mobile, but I definitely know we've tested quite a few use cases and it translates very well for us.

James Kotecki (03:53):

I'd love to talk some more about how this translation actually works, because when I'm thinking about a mobile device, obviously I can have a bunch of friends huddled around my mobile device, but my mobile device is in most cases very personal to me. We talk about a device somewhere in the living room, it's semi-private in the sense that it's in a private space, but other people are going to be using that as well. So how do you think about the individualized personalized component when there's maybe more of a group or different people coming into the room to consume that content?

Dan Page (04:20):

So when we refer to new screens, there's a few components. One, definitely our TikTok native TV app, which is similar to mobile. So there is a curated experience that is very family friendly, that's a lean back experience that you do not have to log into. So you can enjoy TikTok with the whole family, and we curate it so that it's for the appropriate audience. However, if you want more of a lean in experience, you want something that's more customized to you, you can easily scan in via QR code and it will recognize your patterns of behavior and serve up the content that is just for you. I can't speak to features in the future, but we have thought about this and we've thought about ways, "How can we best serve a TV audience that's different, but just as engaging as the mobile experience?"

James Kotecki (05:09):

Interesting. And when we talk about the algorithm being the heart of what makes TikTok, TikTok, we're talking about something that I think for some people is almost scary in terms of how well it can predict or understand the kinds of content that I might want to watch, even if I couldn't have articulated that I wanted to watch that. I didn't know I needed this in my life, but here it is on my screen and now I'm totally into it. How much better can that get? And what sense do you think that we can expect it to improve in the near future?

Dan Page (05:43):

Depending on your platform, you might see some different experiences, but ones that bring joy and pleasure and positivity to the experience, that might be different on TV as well as digital out of home, which we haven't even touched on. Right now, we have a great partner Loop TV where in bars and restaurants and dental offices, you get to see some really great TikToks that are curated for sound off. Something very different that you would think it may not translate, but it translates very well. Things like TikTok Radio. We're constantly trending the charts with our artists and with songs in creating a music experience. And we partnered both with Sirius XM and Stingray Digital to bring the sounds of TikTok to cars as well as living rooms. So, there are various different ways that we hope to engage and make things better. Algorithms just one of them.

James Kotecki (06:43):

And as part of your job, I assume you're engaging with advertisers a lot, and how are advertisers thinking about what it means to reach people through TikTok, but on these new screens?

Dan Page (06:55):

We've recently partnered with a company called Cineplex here in Canada, and they are a movie exhibitor. They have about 90% of the market, and we've created a TikTok experience in partnership with Cineplex, and with brands to create two minutes of TikTok before every movie. Brands are leaning into this, they're trying to find some organic ways to include some of their TikToks. Maybe you'll start to see some interesting brand experiences that use TikTok as a palette to entertain on the big screen. And brands are really leaning into it. We've already secured Deciem, which you'll see as a launch partner, which we recently announced. And a Canadian company called Interact. And so, look forward to different ways that brands use us to engage on many screens, not just mobile.

James Kotecki (07:49):

And speaking of brands, I wonder how does the TikTok brand itself make a difference for how people are consuming this? So if I see two minutes of TikTok type videos on a screen, but I don't have that TikTok logo or I don't necessarily know that it's TikTok, is it different for me than as a consumer who lives on TikTok, who loves TikTok, uses it every day. I see that logo on a different screen that I might be used to, and I think, "Oh, there's something fun and interesting about this. Oh look, I'm actually getting the TikTok experience." How much does the TikTok brand actually matter when it comes to these new screens?

Dan Page (08:22):

It matters very much. A lot of people think they know TikTok. There's still a lot of people that aren't on TikTok. This is a way for us to reach new audiences for us to dispel what they may have thought of TikTok and maybe reinforce what they know from a positive experience of TikTok. Maybe they've seen on other platforms. So, we're really excited that this engages both existing audiences and new audiences.

James Kotecki (08:52):

When we talk about the way that this content is consumed when it's on a mobile device, I'm obviously interacting with it. I can swipe around and I can interact with it in some ways. If it's on a TV that's across the room or if it's on a billboard at a venue, there's potentially less interaction or is that true? Are there going to be new ways to interact with this content on new screens even in group settings?

Dan Page (09:16):

Again, it depends on the experience. If it's the TikTok native TV app, that's an interactive experience. You can definitely swipe with your remote, you can like with your remote. But we see that palette as more of a lean back experience. Things like billboards, may be a little bit more difficult to control. Movie theater screens as well, but with some screens it may not be as important to control. It's about showing people the joys and entertainment of TikTok, allowing us to curate a couple minutes.

James Kotecki (09:53):

As we wrap up 2022 and head into CES 2023 and the start of a new year, how are the best brands thinking about creating their own TikTok content and then leveraging what other people are doing? TikTok just has this vibe and this brand of this completely grassroots element where everyone's in their own rooms and houses, kind of creating all of this organic content. Brands obviously want to play a role in that and have a piece of that attention, but do you find that brands are able to create that and have it feel organic? Or do the best brands leverage what other folks are actually doing organically?

Dan Page (10:31):

What I can say and what hasn't changed, is that we always say make TikToks not ads. Meaning try and be authentic to the platform. It's what works, it's what our users like. It feels more organic. We always encourage them to use creators and try and be a little bit different. Don't try and crop your existing creative for TikTok. Make a TikTok.

James Kotecki (11:00):

What does it mean when you say make TikToks, not ads? In your opinion kind of defines what a TikTok is? If I were to give you a cheeky answer, I would say it's like someone dancing in a goofy way, but I assume that's probably not the right definition

Dan Page (11:15):

And that's something we're trying to dispel. So we're not the young singing and dancing app. We're far from that. We lean into education, we lean into hacks. I mean, how many kitchen hacks have you learned from TikTok? I know I've learned quite a few. When we say make TikToks, we're saying be authentic to the platform. Pay attention to what the trends are. Pay attention to who the creators are. Pay attention to what works, and use that as an inspiration as the starting point, so that you're actually delivering some value to the audience versus trying to force a product or service on them.

James Kotecki (11:56):

Do you have any emerging sense of best practices for what works on certain kinds of screens? We've been talking about how on certain screens and certain environments there's going to be family friendly content. For example, on a mobile device, it'll typically be a vertical video. If we talk about a full screen video on a television, it would look different. Are there other kind of best practices that are just trends of what works better on different screens? Or is it always going to be TikTok and it's kind of screen agnostic?

Dan Page (12:25):

I would say it's screen agnostic. However, jump into conversations and trends. Meet the TikTok community where they are, by showing you understand trends and can create for them. That's if you're known. But more importantly, be real and authentic because that shines through. So we always encourage studios and brands and creators, don't overthink it. Jump in, be on the platform, understand how the community engages and what they care about, and see how you can incorporate your brand or your message into the conversation in a way that's not only true to what you're trying to accomplish in your brand. So you don't need to be polished, you just need to be authentic. I don't think that matters what the screen is.

James Kotecki (13:13):

And as a practical matter, if I'm making a video that is produced vertically and then it's showing up on a larger horizontal TV type screen, do you feel like audiences just look past that? Does TikTok present that in a different way to where it would be actually cropped? Or is this an example of overthinking it?

Dan Page (13:34):

No, I don't think that's overthinking it at all. I think about that all the time. So yes, right now majority of our videos are vertical, full screen. Will there be a day where most of the videos on TV are horizontal? Maybe. That really all depends on the community. So, you can today upload a 16 by nine video. You can. It doesn't look great on mobile, but looks great on TV. So we're still working to figure out what the best balance is there and how to present the right formatting for the right screen. However, I do see in a world where we lean in more to TV, you'll see more full screen video on TV, more vertical video on phones.

James Kotecki (14:20):

And I wonder if I think about all the different screen innovations that we see every year at CES. I'm imagining some kind of futuristic technology where the screen itself, maybe it's not actually changing, but it appears to change or it becomes transparent in certain places so that it doesn't distract you with black bars if it's a vertical video versus a horizontal video, like some kind of omni screen for example. If that doesn't already exist at CES, I'd be surprised.

Dan Page (14:43):

The way we play with the TV screen on our native TV app is pretty cool. We do have the vertical videos, but we also have comments coming up the left or the right side. We have likes. So there's different stuff happening on the screen when we present it. We don't just leave black bars, we actually like to play around with it. We do a lot of AB testing and we're constantly evolving it. So it is a very positive experience.

James Kotecki (15:09):

Makes sense. Well, Dan Page of TikTok, thanks so much for joining us and we'll see you at CES.

Dan Page (15:14):

Can't wait to see you. Thanks for having me.

James Kotecki (15:16):

Well, that's our show for now, but there's always more tech to talk about. Here's a preview of the next CES Tech talk.

Speaker 3 (15:23):

Take every stereotype you've ever heard and throw it out the door. Gamers are kindergartners now and gamers are seniors and everything in the middle. We want to appeal to everybody. Everybody who loves gaming, who cares about competitive gaming. And so, I don't think you're going to see a place on the planet in any demographic, where gaming isn't a part of their life.

James Kotecki (15:50):

Please subscribe to this podcast so you don't miss a moment and get more CES at ces.tech. That's C-E-S.T-E-C-H. Our show is produced by Nicole Vidovich with Mason Manual and Kristin Miller. Recorded by Andrew Lynn and edited by Third Spoon. I'm James Kotecki, talking technology, on CES Tech Talk.