TikTok Ban Week?! The Sky is Falling....Pump the Brakes (Week 13)

Is TikTok going to vanish into thin air? DoubleVerify needs to double verify it's own product. How to approach Social Commerce Affiliate Commissions.

The TikTok Ban Week?!

My phone blew UP on Saturday with frantic texts and concerns over the impending Senate meeting on Tuesday to decide on the fate of TikTok (along with the other bills packaged with it). I will cover this in depth below.

Despite the (kind of) negative TikTok updates on Saturday, I was able to enjoy my night. As a NY sports fan, you don’t get too many opportunities for enjoyment. But my NY Knicks started the playoffs strong and took a 1-0 lead as they beat the Philadelphia 76ers. Anytime NY beats Philly, it’s a good night. Pretty good sign that the Knicks won despite their best player (Jalen Brunson) having one of his worst games as a Knick.

I also had the chance of going to the Inter Miami CF soccer game to see Lionel Messi play IRL. What a treat. Miami won 3-1… Messi had 2 goals and 1 assist. He could have had a couple more goals too. Here’s a video I took of his penalty kick goal:

Messi scoring his 2nd goal of the night for Inter Miami CF. Bucket list ✅

Also had the absolute pleasure of joining Jess and Rabah on The DTC Shoooooow! this past week. Blown away by the production these two put on weekly. It’s a highly polished, well-thought out, legitimate TV SHOW.

We covered: US signing a bill on its own GDPR?!, Shopify’s new management system, AI deepfakes entering the world of UGC, of course some Social Commerce, & more.

Watch our full episode below!

Now- onto the meat and potatoes.

1. UPDATE: The "TikTok Ban"

TikTok Ban Looming…

Interesting developments over the weekend that has the TikTok "Ban" bill moving faster & more ferociously than anticipated. BUT, it’s not as immediately threatening as the sensationalist media headlines will lead you to believe.

🚨There's a MASSIVE difference between Senate signing the ban bill and TikTok actually going extinct in the US.

Here are the facts👇

1. On Saturday, the House strategically packaged the ban bill with other pressing bipartisan bills that'll provide aid to Taiwan, Ukraine, Israel, and Gaza. (sneaky, sneaky)

2. This makes it more likely the Senate will sign off.

3. Apparently the Senate is meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, April 23) to decide on the package's fate.

4. If the package passes, it will go to Biden for final signature, which he is expected to move forward with.

5. If signed by Biden, TikTok will not just be "banned" or shutdown over night. It will mark the beginning of a very complicated, likely drawn out process.

6. ByteDance (TikTok parent co.) would have 12 months to divest from TikTok & sell to a US owner.

7. TikTok is prepared to fight the U.S. government if the potential ban is signed into law.

8. According to Bloomberg, TikTok told U.S. employees that it'll quickly move to the courts for a legal challenge.

9. Who knows how long this would be contested.

10. After a long and complicated legal battle, if ByteDance is still forced to divest, TikTok will only be banned and wiped out in the US if (and only if) ByteDance refuses to divest.

11. However, if it does indeed divest, TikTok will remain the same TikTok as we all know it.

My recommendation to all brands/users of TikTok:

Business as usual. You'll hear a lot of noise in the coming days. BUT, nothing about the app will be changing anytime soon. It's far more complicated than the media will let you on to believe. The odds of TikTok vanishing into thin air in the US are still minimal.

But even in the small chance it does vanish, it will take AMPLE time to come to fruition.

And if/when that time comes, your investment in the platform would not be lost. Your assets are easily translated to other platforms where short-form content still dominates.

At this point, the proper question is NOT "will this ban bill be passed"... the proper question is:

Will TikTok eventually cease to exist in the US?

My Prediction: NO. Too much $ is at stake for ByteDance shareholders to send TikTok to $0. Too many unlikely scenarios are in play that would need to align for TikTok to be sent to the abyss in the US.

2. DoubleVerify Misreports Twitter’s Brand Safety Rating for Months!

DoubleVerify probably needs to DoubleVerify its own product.

DoubleVerify, a publicly traded “brand safety” measurement company just so happened to “mistakenly” report 𝕏’s brand safety ratings by UP TO 30% LOWER for 5 months!

ONLY 𝕏 was impacted by this “bug.”

𝕏 lauds itself as a platform that welcomes free speech (hate-free).

  • Perhaps some people at DV didn’t agree with some {hate-free} opinions or stances of those on X and decided to label it as “unsafe” content - content that brands wouldn’t approve; OR

  • Perhaps they labeled it as safe but made a “careless” mistake in their graphical representation of the real numbers, to cover up their gross unethical manipulation to cover their a**.

“In some cases, the measurement firm showed scores as low as 70%, whereas X’s Brand Safety Rates were in fact 99.99%.”

Low brand safety ratings = large brands pull back advertising spend or even stop campaigns on 𝕏 altogether.

Brand Safety Rating is a measure of how frequently ads appeared adjacent to content that met “advertiser-approved” criteria. Sounds a bit subjective to me.

DoubleVerify has “NO IDEA” how this happened. I don’t think it takes rocket science to uncover what happened here.

It’s sounds eerily similar to what happened with Gemini’s absolute failure of a launch a couple months back. DV now has egg on its face.

How do you retain any semblance of credibility after something like this happens?

DV just came out and admitted:

Based on DoubleVerify’s metrics, X’s Brand Safety Rate across all campaigns we measured exceeded 99.99% from October 2023 to the present. This means that X’s Brand Safety Rate exceeds global benchmarks for brand safety, based on DV’s global industry data.

𝕏 now has MAJOR financial damages. The situation is being investigated.

If I’m Elon, I go hard on this. This is unacceptable in a world where measurement should be objective.

Injecting subjective bias into measurement or technology is dangerous and can cost entities endless damages. Damages that they should heavily pursue.

Honesty and objectivity is something that must exist in an ethical, fair world.

Still unsure how this is happening in a professional society. It’ll likely only get worse with elections looming large. Buckle up!

3. How to Approach Setting Commission Levels for your Brand’s Affiliates (i.e. TikTok Shop)

I actually wrote this up and published early (a few days ago) because I simply couldn’t keep repeating the same thing over and over to brands, prospects, etc.

When I find myself repeating the same thing over and over again, it likely means it’s of significant importance and should be written and shared. Here we are!

FAQ: What commission level should I set for my TikTok Shop affiliates?

Answer: The HIGHEST amount you are able to pay based on margins. The more attractive the commission offer, the more affiliates you'll activate and retain.

Scaling affiliate channels on TikTok Shop right now is the largest immediate opportunity in the DTC world. But being able to scale it is totally reliant on how many affiliates are willing to push your offer.

💥 Read how I approach this + use my affiliate commission scenario calculator HERE 💥

Is the US going to enact its own GDPR?

Heeeeere we go again with consumer data privacy rumblings. They never cease to end. Spoke about this on the DTC Show this past week, but felt compelled to give it its own section in this newsletter given the significance.

Earlier this month, a group of bipartisan lawmakers introduced a bill that strives to give consumers greater control over their personal data.

This bill is dubbed the “American Privacy Rights Act (APRA),” and proposes national standards on the collection, use and transfer of consumer data online.

If enacted, APRA would rule that companies only collect necessary data about consumers, empower consumers to access, delete and move their data between digital services and enable users to opt out of certain data practices, including targeted advertising (bye, bye personalized marketing? ha).

Currently, the US is one of only 20% of countries in the world that do NOT have a national privacy legislation in place. Rather, the US leaves it up to the states, like California (CCPA: California Consumer Privacy Act) to dictate their own privacy mandates.

Despite my own personal bias in this situation (my company relies heavily on targeted advertising), I have a few objective concerns with APRA actually accomplishing what it’s intended to do:

  1. Ambulance chasers will come out of the woodworks. Bad actors will emerge and try to pin SMBs up against the wall and shake them down for cash due to incomplete privacy policies or imperfect practices that may be extremely difficult to uphold for SMBs without dedicated data/legal teams. See what’s happened with ADA/WCAG lawsuits with Shopify SMBs.

  2. Consumers will be unlikely to actually go out of their way to control data on each website they log onto. Consumer participation and activation will be far different than how iOS14.5 tracking opt-out was executed.

  3. SMBs would be crushed for 2 reasons. A) cost for maintaining this type of privacy policy will add yet another margin impinger and make DTC finances harder to overcome. B) if we think CAC is volatile and high now, imagine a world where you have little first party data to leverage in digital paid media. Good luck!

  4. “The Cure Can’t Be Worse Than the Disease.” If the issue now is consumer privacy, lets constructively analyze: would damage to SMBs stemming from APRA be of higher magnitude than if we kept on with current privacy regulations? My answer is YES. We would be creating more destruction.

  5. The “free web” would have to become more paywalled. Part of the reason why we’re able to surf the free web without having to pay for access to every social media channel, news website, fantasy sports leagues, etc is thanks to us providing these websites with our first party data. If we remove that benefit to them, why would they continue to give us free access to their digital products? The math wouldn’t math.

APRA is still FAR AWAY from actually coming to fruition. It’s a long shot and in the early innings. So don’t have any immediate knee-jerk reaction to this…yet.

What I’m Listening to 🎧

Beats of the Week: Antdot @ Warung Beach Club Reopening 2024

This is one of the best sets I’ve heard in a LONG time. Enough said.

I welcome all feedback. Good, bad, everything in between.

Hit reply, and let’s hear it! 👂

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Yours truly,

Jonathan Snow

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