The Big Story podcast

Small, direct-to-consumer companies that built businesses on the back of Facebook are pivoting. They’re moving budgets over to TikTok and using new analytics tools to measure their social media ad spend.

But these “TikTokalytics” vendors aren’t just reworking the technology for untangling attribution or measuring incrementality. They’re taking a cue from the companies they serve and using influencers and testimonials on social media to sell their product.

The coiner of the term “TikTokalaytics,” our senior editor James Hercher, shares the main takeaways from his reporting on this new crop of measurement companies, which includes TripleWhale and Northbeam (and, to some extent, Rockerbox and Measured). He predicts that many of these companies, which have so far raised under $25 million, are acquisition targets that could soon get scooped up.

Despite grouping them all in the same category, these companies are tackling slightly different subsets of the market and have different growth ambitions. One wants to be a major analytics platform, while another wants to be an ecommerce operating system. This diversity means that the category won’t end up with winners or losers, but rather with a variety players serving different segments of the market. Even now, Hercher notes, many brands use more than one of these vendors.

Talking to the FTC

Then, our managing editor Allison Schiff sat in on an FTC public forum last week that will inform its proposed rulemaking about “commercial surveillance.” Like a government town hall, the complaints were wide-ranging and varied and the overall feel was one of “chaos,” she notes.

But one point stuck out: How digital advertising companies talk about the value of advertising just isn’t resonating. Schiff unpacks why moth-eaten talking points about the “value exchange” of watching ads for free content isn’t landing, while the other side packs a punch with terms like “surveillance capitalism” or the FTC’s somewhat milder “commercial surveillance.”

What isn’t clear is whether a better alternatives exist.

In the meantime, the FTC is not only talking pointed action against ad tech (like suing Kochava), it’s using forums like this to determine whether and how it will take action in the future.

And the argument of a value exchange may not be as persuasive as it once was.