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Will The Clock Run Out on TikTok?
April 17, 20242 min read

Will The Clock Run Out on TikTok?

One couldn't be blamed for noticing that a social media giant in the digital space has come to traditional, broadcast media in the last few months

On March 13th, the House of Representatives—in a rare instance of bipartisanship—passed H.R. 7521. It’s a bill that would force TikTok to divest itself from its Chinese ownership or be forced to cease operations in the US. 

There's no doubt TikTok's communications staff saw this coming, however. There have been rumblings for years regarding the Chinese government’s use of the platform to collect data on 170M American users and pushing harmful messaging targeted at children.


Source: Vivvix CMAG


 But a classified congressional hearing given by national security and law enforcement officials appears to have been the catalyst for H.R. 7521's passage the following day. 

Since the beginning of 2024, TikTok has aired 11 TV spots highlighting the benefits that TikTok provides to small business owners and charities as well as the importance of free speech. Their ad buys have been concentrated in DC in addition to PA, SC, MA, MT, and OH, as well as national TV and national cable. All in all, TikTok's ads have aired a total of 8,479 times at the cost of $9M. 


Source: Vivvix CMAG


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But they are not alone on the airwaves, weighing in on the issue of the virtues (and vices) of social media. Year to date, Vivvix CMAG has tracked six sponsors who have either explicitly or obliquely targeted TikTok. The sponsor with the most ad dollars behind him was (the ultimately unsuccessful) Ohio GOP Senate candidate Matt Dolan, who spent $503K on 550 airings of a spot decrying China "spying on our kids." 

The American Parents Coalition released one spot on March 22nd urging Congress to "stop the poison" associated with TikTok, spending $330K airing in markets across the country, national cable and national TV. Of particular note is their targeting of the Philadelphia market—presumably to influence Senator Fetterman’s vote. In Philly alone, the ad has aired 342 times at a cost of $271K (82% of their total expenditure).

State Armor Action—mentioning TikTok's VP by name—has been up on the air since March 22nd with one creative decrying what they regard as the social media company's baleful influence on the country, spending $120K on 607 airings in OH, MT, DC, and national cable. 

The Center for Countering Digital Hate continued airing their 3 ads—originally released a year ago—at a cost of $200K on 5,933 airings. Advancing American Freedom released a spot on DC local cable on April 7th while Parents Television and Media Council unveiled a new ad on April 3rd citing safety concerns associated with children's usage of social media. Taken together, these anti-TikTok groups have spent $1.1M on 7,518 occurrences. 


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The fate of TikTok's US operation is now in the hands of the Senate and their lobbyists are, no doubt, working behind the scenes to affect a desirable outcome. But at this stage, we at Vivvix CMAG can report that these masters of the digital space are not going to be outfoxed in the media most influential with elected representatives and their constituents.