India on Monday banned 59 Chinese apps, including top social media platforms such as TikTok, Helo and WeChat to counter the threat posed by these applications to the country’s “sovereignty and security.” ShareIT, UC Browser, CamScanner, SHEIN, Club Factory are some of the prominent applications that have been blocked. The ban has been imposed under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with relevant provisions of the Information Technology Rules (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009, the Centre said in a statement. Post the announcement, Google Play and Apple Store have removed the apps.
The lockdown is seeing a Global recession and a disruption across industries, the Advertising industry is also bearing the brunt. Global brands are now boycotting Facebook and other social media platforms. And now the ban on Chinese apps might change the dynamics drastically.
Medianews4u spoke to a few Digital Media experts on the ban and how it will affect the business, will a new ecosystem emerge where other platforms (apart from social media) will turn into super apps.
Shamsuddin Jasani, Group MD, Isobar South Asia Said“We do not know how long this ban is going to last for. But if it lasts for a few months it certainly is going to have a big effect on the curated video space, YouTube for sure will be the big gainer as well as Indian apps on the space.”
Ankit Agarwal, Founder, Do Your Thng “The ban is more of a statement right now – a comma rather than a full stop. That’s evident from the clarification updated by TikTok India. If, and that’s a big if, the block becomes permanent, it has the potential to change the influencer landscape significantly.
Right now, for marketers, TikTok is the space to target Gen Zers as 41% of its users fall in this age bracket. I feel it is one reason why brand custodians place it in the top 3 three platforms for influencer marketing [Instagram (94%), TikTok (52%) and YouTube (52%)]. On top of it, the app has higher engagement rates and average time spent per day than Instagram.
When you take away something so effective, brands are bound to feel the pinch. To compensate, they’ll redirect their influencer marketing efforts to other platforms – trigger the said change.
On the creator side, the impact will be more substantial and devastating. As Nikhil Gandhi correctly points out, TikTok gave a voice to hundreds of creators generating vernacular content in India. While most creators are savvy enough to diversify to other platforms, there will be few who stand to lose their entire body of work.
But all this is contingent on a permanent block, which in my opinion will most probably not happen. Not just because TikTok has been given a chance to submit clarifications, but because executing a ban is not simple with plenty of workarounds available.”
Sandeep Sreekumar, Managing Director, Media Moments “Over the years, apps like TikTok, Helo and the likee had caught the eye of various brands and had developed into strong marketing mediums. Now, with the recent update, there will be a shift in the platforms used by the influencers while the overall approach will remain the same.
This move will also open new opportunities for many Indian apps. And it will be interesting to see how Indian apps like Chingari, Mitron and Roposo will come into the foreplay and cash in the situation. For instance, many apps experienced a massive increase in the download rates soon after the announcement.
Having said that; thorough understanding, planning and research will be required before associating with these apps to deliver the right message and content. But as long as quality content is being created, audiences will follow and as long as audiences are there, brands will invest regardless of the platform.”
Divanshi Gupta, Director, The Marcom Avenue “The recent geopolitical events on Indo-China borders have resulted in the Indian government banning TikTok and other 58 apps in the light of protecting the privacy and sovereignty of its residents. This action may have its repercussions on both the governments, but it is definitely going to have a significant impact on the brands and advertisers who had set aside the quarter budget for influencer marketing campaigns on TikTok social media. This short-form content media app had begun to attract a considerable number of users. And now, the advertisers will have to undeniably shift their strategy and focus on creating long-form content on platforms, like YouTube and Instagram, with already established and known faces by bidding adieu to TikTok influencers.”
Harikrishnan Pillai, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, TheSmallBigIdea “Digital platforms across the world are facing tremendous pressure from governments and advertisers to bring in more data transparency and content filtering. This move is led by public outrage and both, the government and brands are quite conscious of their imagery basis their stance.
The 150+ brand boycott of Facebook or the Chinese platform bans are clear indicators of this phenomenon. The question is what it means to the advertisers, agencies and platforms. In a short to medium term, advertisers and agencies will look at alternate platforms to help them meet their marketing goals. Some of the banned platforms are sizeable, so it would be difficult to find an immediate apparent replacement. In this case, a combination of replacements or an increase in presence in existing platforms can be an option. Also, the ban is still a little unclear from an implementation standpoint. The downloaded apps are still running, though new downloads are at a halt. If the government calls for a complete ban, things will go south for these platforms. Even then, I don’t believe brands will advertise on these apps, fearing public outrage.
For influencers, from a short term POV, the business will be affected if they have had a single platform focus. From a long term perspective, Indian apps have a great opportunity to grow. ‘Revenge Download’ will lead to a sudden spike of Indian apps. Whether they manage to be sticky and effective, time will tell.
Ms. Shradha Agarwal Co-founder & COO, Grapes Digital
India is the world’s second-largest internet market with nearly 723Mn online population. This is the first time that the Government of India has ordered a ban on so many Chinese apps.
Over the last year or two, Tiktok has created a huge number of users from India largely from younger age groups and with the same reason larger brands were considering the platform to connect with their target audiences with engaging and quirky content. With this ban, strategies for a lot of brands will need to be re-visited and business as an overall will also be impacted, especially for brands that resonate with the younger audiences. The app has gone completely offline and is no longer working for the users in India, and the impact is going to be very high for multiple stakeholders, let’s take TikTok for an example:
1. Clients: Tiktok was not only being used as a reach and branding platform but also as a platform to drive performance for FMCG, beauty, education and finance sectors. The hashtag challenge on Tiktok was booked for the next 60 days that means all plans related to driving awareness and engagement are to be replanned.
2. Agencies: If the client’s plans suggested or closed for any campaigns had TikTok, then it means a whole lot of rework for agencies to identify new platforms or a huge loss of revenue as clients might not use that money at all for anything else. A hashtag challenge used to cost 35L approx, now imagine that even if you earn 5-10% as media commission, all that is gone. Now coming to retainers, a lot of clients were giving a fixed retainer to drive content on TikTok, now that the app is banned that fixed revenue also goes down the drain.
3. Influencers: A lot of agencies were also using TikTok influencers for their clients, and trust me a lot of influencers’ livelihood was based on TikTok. All that is also now stopped creating a huge uproar amongst influencer arms of the agencies and these influencers themselves.