- TikTok seeks to triple its advertising revenue to $12 billion this year, and has been hiring aggressively to meet that goal.
- It’s poised for a growing battle with Facebook, which acknowledged TikTok is eating into its ad business.
- Insider identified 12 of the most important execs powering its ads business.
At 1 billion monthly active users, TikTok is dominating short-form social video and posing a serious threat to social giants like Facebook as it attracts more dollars from traditional and digital ad budgets.
And it’s just getting started. TikTok seeks to triple its advertising revenue to $12 billion this year over 2021, and it’s been hiring aggressively to meet that goal.
It’s also experimenting with e-commerce through TikTok Shopping and building out its creator marketplace to connect brands and influencers directly.
Advertisers are taking TikTok more seriously — and so are its rivals.
An exec who just recently oversaw $300 million in TV advertising for a brand said in just three years, its spending on TikTok has gone from $100,000 to $2 million — money that, importantly, came from TV, not digital.
Facebook parent Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted TikTok’s increasing threat on a recent earnings call, saying it would be focusing on its own short-form video feature Reels in response.
But TikTok has a lot of work ahead of it. Many brands are still wary of advertising on the platform and are only just starting to test the waters there. A Kantar report last year estimated that TikTok is the least trusted major social platform for brand safety and ad measurement behind Instagram, YouTube, Google and Facebook.
One ad buyer said some brands still hesitate to advertise on TikTok because it doesn’t have robust enough measurements to track how well ads are performing and has ties to Chinese parent ByteDance, despite TikTok maintaining that it operates independently.
A growing team of advertising executives are working to instill brands’ confidence in the platform and grab more of their budgets. Insider identified 12 who are leading that charge, based on ad execs who work with the company and public information. They are listed in alphabetical order by last name.
Blake Chandlee, president of global business solutions
At the top of TikTok’s ad sales effort sits Chandlee, who oversees the teams responsible for growing its awareness and presence with advertisers.
Chandlee has sold TikTok as a place where brands can connect with its young audience in fun and authentic ways, but the ad buyer said the platform will need to do more to tie campaign success to measurement and performance metrics.
“There’s only so long you can ride on these huge audience and engagement numbers,” the buyer said. “Is it a good indication of success? Yeah for sure but if you can’t measure it, brands have to think ‘is it worth the spend?'”
Chandlee spent 12 years at Facebook, where he managed global agency partnerships and client relationships, before joining TikTok in 2019. Under his watch, he’s significantly increased advertisers on the platform, from a few dozen to hundreds of thousands, he told attendees at TikTok’s first World Event last October, a virtual presentation for marketers.
Gabriela Comazzetto, general manager of LATAM global business solutions
Comazzetto, another Facebook poach, has been overseeing TikTok’s ad business in one of its fastest growing regions for just over a year.
According to eMarketer Insider Intelligence, TikTok surpassed the 100 million-user mark in Latin America under Comazzetto’s watch last year and is estimated to grow another 12.8% to 136 million users in 2022. TikTok overtook Twitter and Snapchat as the region’s third largest social network in 2020. Because of this growth, Matteo Ceurvels, Insider Intelligence’s senior analyst for Latin America and Spain, says marketers in the region can’t exclude TikTok from their digital strategies.
Stuart Flint, general manager of EU global business solutions
The former AOL and Verizon Media exec oversees the sales and operations of the TikTok for Business platform, a suite of self-service tools for businesses trying to advertise on the platform.
On a DMEXCO podcast episode last year, Flint discussed a few ad strategies that have worked specifically for small businesses, including using hashtags on their ads like #smallbusinesscheck, which racked up 9 billion views as of last August.
Sandie Hawkins, general manager of North American global business solutions
Hawkins is a key person managing TikTok’s brand and agency relationships across North America. She was the first in this role when she joined from Adobe in 2020.
One independent US agency exec called Hawkins their point person for getting big problems fixed quickly on the platform, such as if an ad was not showing up properly.
Hawkins has been helping brands communicate to TikTok’s audience since she started and maintains these relationships; she recently praised Old Navy’s CMO on LinkedIn for creating an ad inspired by a TikTok video. “Listening to the community on TikTok is a great way to build your brand. Thank you Jamie Gersch for leaning in,” she wrote.
Sofia Hernandez, global head of business marketing
Hernandez started out at TikTok helping brands in North America build their marketing strategies on the platform, adding a global remit last year.
Execs like Hernandez are wooing brands to TikTok with stats like users are 92% more likely to follow a brand or purchase a product based on a video they viewed.
Hernandez also touts TikTok as having a unique ability to grab users’ attention in a way other social media platforms don’t. She told Forbes users don’t just “check it, they watch it.”
The pitch is certainly working for some. “TikTok has been super hot and brands are really leaning in. Part of the TikTok pitch is you can’t multitask when you’re on TikTok, which means it’s a full-on experience and gives brands a real chance to engage,” a second media buyer said.
Jon Hillman, global agency development leader
Hillman has overseen TikTok’s relationships with some of its largest global brands and ad agencies for the past two years.
He was one of Spotify’s first five American hires and helped build its US ads business during nine years there. He also managed all the major ad holding companies as well as independent agencies.
Soniya Monga, head of US agency partnerships
One of TikTok’s newest hires, Monga joined in February to oversee the team that manages ad agency partnerships in the US. Her specific focus is on cultivating relationships with the six biggest ad holding companies.
Monga came from Snap, where she led global agency partnerships and was involved in key presentations and pitches. Snap ramped up its performance and measurement metrics in its advertising pitches during her time there; look for Monga to adopt some of those tactics at TikTok as the platform grows.
Shant Oknayan, general manager of METAP global business solutions
Oknayan manages the TikTok for Business platform for the METAP region.
He helped build out TikTok’s self-service ads platform for entrepreneurs and “back to business” program in 2020 that gave $100 million in ads credits to small businesses struggling during the pandemic.
Oknayan has also been pushing the “make TikToks, not ads” campaign — an effort that’s credited with helping advertisers figure out what makes an ad successful on the platform.
Jorge Ruiz, global head of marketing science
Ruiz is another Facebook veteran and one of TikTok’s longest ad executives, having been with the young platform for over two years.
He leads the team that uses data and analytics to inform how TikTok rolls out product offerings, partners with third parties like Nielsen and Kantar, and guides brands on how to spend their advertising dollars.
Becca Sawyer, global head of SMB
Sawyer is responsible for how the platform pitches itself to small businesses in North America and the EU.
She led the launch of hashtags like #SupportSmallBusiness and a partnership with Nielsen that created more targeted advertising opportunities.
Sawyer also has been touting the message of small business successes on TikTok. She told trade pub Modern Retail about a jewelry company, Omolola Jewelry, that did six figures in sales for the first time ever in 2020 after joining TikTok. She also advises small businesses on how to manage huge sales boosts if they go viral on TikTok.
Sameer Singh, general manager of APAC global business solutions
Singh oversees the TikTok for Business platform across APAC.
He’s key to building strong relationships with brands and agencies, having served in marketing roles across some of the top companies on both sides including Google, Procter & Gamble and WPP’s media-buying giant, GroupM.
Singh joined ByteDance in 2021 as head of business solutions in APAC. He also led business solutions for TikTok in India before the app was banned there in 2020.
Khartoon Weiss, global head of agency and accounts
Weiss manages relationships with the global holding companies and brands. She’s a veteran of Spotify, where she led client solutions, as well as agencies like MDC Partners’ Assembly.
One holding company exec who works with Weiss called her “a force in the industry” for her work selling TikTok’s uniqueness to advertisers and said she’s been at the forefront of conversations around brand safety and foreign ownership throughout the Russia-Ukraine war. “As a result, TikTok gets the ‘most improved’ prize in brand safety in my books,” the exec said.