: TikTok will use your data to fuel its multibillion-dollar shopping mall — whether you know it or not

by | Oct 25, 2022 | Stock Market

If you ask a roomful of people what TikTok is, you’re bound to get a pretty wide array of answers. Is it a hub for teens to show off their cool dance moves? Sure. It’s also a trusted news source, a job maker and breaker, and a lightning rod for geopolitical angst. Judging from the ByteDance Inc. social network’s pitches to potential advertisers, though, what executives really want TikTok to be known as is a digital shopping mall. 

It’s a natural progression. The platform has shown an uncanny ability to drive offline sales of anything from leggings to containers of feta cheese with the help of its viral videos. Now TikTok is focusing on moving those offline purchases onto its own platform — and inventing new ways to track and target its user base in order to make that happen. One of the latest gambits, MarketWatch has learned, involves TikTok targeting ads toward users based on purchases they haven’t even made yet. Thanks to the glut of data collected on users while they use TikTok and when they leave to check out other sites, the company claims it can gauge whether you’re likely to buy just about anything, from a tube of mascara to a new house.  The new offering hints at how massive TikTok’s commerce ambitions actually are. “Social commerce,” as it’s called, is a market worth more than $700 billion globally that has fallen flat in the U.S., despite the efforts of giants like Alphabet Inc.
Meta Platforms Inc.
and Amazon.com Inc.
But experts say TikTok has a real chance to flourish where those other giants failed. “TikTok pioneered a new form of ‘viral commerce’ that we haven’t seen replicated on any other platform,” Insider Intelligence analyst Jasmine Enberg said. “It’s a kind of shopping behavior that’s driven by a younger user base, and one whose purchasing habits are driven by a fear of missing out on the newest cultural trend. That sense of FOMO is ultimately what leads to products flying off virtual …

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