The rise of TikTok & Douyin to become the next global platform

Forward & Context

Douyin is the mainland China variant of the wildly popular app in the US, TikTok (which acquired in November of 2017 and rebranded the app). Douyin is one of the hottest apps in China and parts of Asia, owned by the parent company ByteDance. ByteDance also owns a plethora of other platforms including the extremely popular Toutiao (the largest AI-powered content discovery platform in China) and Xigua Video (One of China’s most popular short-form video platforms) among others.

According to App Annie, the two apps have reached top ranks in app stores in over 40 countries. Douyin has its sight on more globalization of the product in 2019 and hopes to see over 50% of its daily users coming from other countries outside of China.

Pillars of Content

Video Content

Douyin and TikTok are best known for their short form video content. In the US TikTok focuses mostly on music videos and synchronized acting to songs. Meanwhile Douyin video content is close to that found on YouTube, Instagram, and other platforms in vertical video formats. This has led to wild popularity in China for consuming video content. The platform also has created exciting tools for creators to easily create engaging vertical video content without editing software used traditionally on desktops.

Video advertisement of Douyin (Chinese)

AR & Stickers Content

In a recent content play, Douyin has set its sights on being an AR platform as well. Ranging from facial lenses to add a unique flair to a video or placing AR objects and running away from a giant T-rex. As we have seen from Snapchat and Instagram, this content is what can keep users coming back for more. In China they’ll have the advantage with content distribution over platforms like Snow and B612. Having a large scale can easily permeate out to other markets if proven successful.

Douyin has also recently launched a platform effects studio for creators to design and build AR lenses, similar to Snapchats Lens Studio and Facebook Effects Platform. The part that is surprising is how fast the tool has been built and integrated, given the relatively early stage of the platform. The website also adds in details of earning revenue when designing for international brands, hinting at what is to come.


Douyin recently launched Open Platform as a beta, allowing users to one-click login to websites and applications? Sound familiar? It’s something that Facebook and Google launched a long time ago to help make their applications sticky and spread tracking cookies across the web to gain revenue. This will help secure Doyuin’s marketplace in China for quite some time, currently WeChat is their sole competitor for login credentials.


Not only is TikTok going after video content, but the coupling of music in their platform for creators to create music videos presents another avenue for the company to leverage. Douyin launched a platform where musicians can upload their songs to be featured in the app leading to exposure that musicians need. (Douyin Music Platform: This is very similar to the content distribution found on Instagram Stories music functionality.


Douyin is wasting no time building up the advertising platform. Ad formats found popular on Snapchat, Instagram, and others have been inserted into the platform. These ads range from static images to full frame vertical video ads (as seen to the left). Much like the US market, influencers are also a large trend on the platform. Some of the top accounts have well over 50 million followers, creating the perfect market for content marketing.

Given the artist community designing stickers and AR content, it won’t be long until we see these types of sponsored content coming to the platform as well. (Douyin API Advertising Platform:

Some of these ads are already seeing incredible performance, reaching over 100 million impressions. Their global advertising network is over 20,000 advertisers for all of Bytedance, this isn’t some small platform that can be ignored and will likely pose a threat to Google, Facebook, and others in their asian markets.


With the rise of Douyin in China and TikTok on the global stage, other social media and content platforms should be fearful and aware of the competition emerging in markets that were once undisputed. While the US market is likely safe for now, it’s going to be a long battle for them to maintain platform dominance in asian markets, when the competition has the home court advantage of knowing how to localize and captivate users. TikTok is currently available for download in the US, Douyin’s app is not available in the app store in the US but can be sideloaded on Android for the curious.