Pathmatics Blog

How TikTok & Quibi are reinventing short-video streaming

March 23 2020 by William Merchan

If you have a teenager or know one, you’ve likely heard of TikTok. The short-form mobile platform has amassed a huge following over the last year. This rise is no surprise, as 62% of internet users in the U.S. watch online video content on mobile. 

Quibi, a rising competitor set to launch on April 6, 2020, is well on its way to cause a shift in the already crowded video landscape. With a maximum of 10 minutes per episode, and Turnstyle technology that allows for landscape mode viewing, Quibi appeals to audiences on the go. 

We took a look at how these brands spent their money on digital ads to connect with and reach their audience. Here’s what we found. 

Small moments to make your day 

In 2019, TikTok’s total digital ad spend was $8.3M, with 44% of its investment in desktop video. This year, 79% of its spend in February was devoted to desktop video.

Compared to early 2019, TikTok has slowed its digital ad spend. While TikTok spent $2.7M last year on over 400 creatives, it spent $401K on only 46 creatives in the same time period. 

TikTok digital ad spendThis desktop video spend trend reflects the new creatives that the company has published, as most of its digital ads from the last month are 15 - 30 second videos that exemplify its brand message:  Small moments, real people, real videos from people that make your day. 

One of the creatives highlights what small moments in a person’s life look like — whether it’s seeing a familiar face on the bus, or celebrating a touchdown, TikTok is meant to capture short bites. 

In addition to its investment in desktop video, TikTok also invested in buying ads from channels like The Trade Desk, Buzzfeed Sponsored, and Drawbridge. Over the last year, 13% of TikTok’s ad spend was allocated to buying ads from The Trade Desk. 

As the year progresses, TikTok’s digital ad spend is one to follow as the beginning of the year proves to be vastly different from the previous one. 

I’ll be there in a Quibi 

Quibi is outspending TikTok on digital ads. The company spent $3.9M on 44 creatives in the last month alone. The ads focused on introducing Quibi’s platform to potential users, emphasizing its launch date, and teasing its content through short clips of episodes. 

While Quibi is outspending TikTok, their focus is not on buying ads:  2% of their digital ad spend in the last year was on buying from channels like Centro. This is greatly different from TikTok’s buying strategy.

Quibi spent 73% of its digital ad budget in the last month on desktop video. The company’s top sites by spend were YouTube and IMDb. Interestingly enough, 5% of this spend was on programmatic ads, with IMDb as one of the top indirect sites. This spend could mean that Quibi is looking to appeal to cinephiles who frequent the site, as the platform will have movie content. 

Liam Hemsworth Quibi Most Dangerous Game digital adThe 25 desktop video creatives were a mix of episode trailers and introductory clips of the platform. There was an explanatory video that included several celebrities, noting that Quibi is “easy, on the go, mobile viewing made for your phone.”  The celebrities in the video are actors who are participating in Quibi episodes or have their own series. 

Quibi introduces itself using longer form videos (30-40 seconds), staying in its own short-form content theme. In the ads, different characters reiterate the company’s - ‘Quick bites. Big Stories’ slogan.

The slogan is a staple of Quibi’s recent advertising. For example, one video depicts the imminent threat of an asteroid hitting Earth. When the President in the video asks, “How much time do we have?” the aid answers, “Two, three Quibis, tops.” The room then begins to panic. This dramatization creates a humorous approach that is seen across all creatives. 

With their launch next month, Quibi will be one to watch.  

Video streaming is here to stay

TikTok and Quibi are shaking up the video streaming industry and disrupting the way we consume content. 

While TikTok’s digital ad spend looks very different today than a year ago, Quibi is turning up the dial ahead of its big launch. It’ll be interesting to see the results of their investment in digital ads, as the company has skyrocketed its recent ad spend. One thing is for certain: short, mobile video is the future of brand storytelling. 

About Author
William Merchan

William Merchan is a data science, marketing analytics, advertising technology and startup veteran. He currently serves as chief revenue officer at marketing intelligence company Pathmatics, where he is responsible for brand growth and awareness. Previously, William built products and grew teams at DataScience.com, MarketShare and Yahoo!. He holds a BS in Business from the University of California Berkeley and an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern.

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