‘TikTok is home to a new kind of shopping culture: community commerce’

‘TikTok is home to a new kind of shopping culture: community commerce’
One of the most notable recent trends on the platform has been the rise of #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt. Videos uploaded with the hashtag have amassed a global total of 13 billion views as of June 2022. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 23 June 2022

‘TikTok is home to a new kind of shopping culture: community commerce’

‘TikTok is home to a new kind of shopping culture: community commerce’
  • Fahad Almaghrabi, head of business partnerships, global business solutions for TikTok in Saudi Arabia, tells Arab News how the platform helps entrepreneurs

DUBAI: Last year, TikTok overtook Google as the most popular website, according to internet-security company Cloudflare. The unprecedented popularity of the short-form video app has spurred a new wave of content creators and influencers, and given rise to new types of content and shopping trends.

The consumption of technology-related content on the platform grew by 302 percent last year across the Gulf Cooperation Council area, as users shared and learned more about new devices and virtual technologies. Meanwhile, beauty-related content increased by 169 percent in the region, with many users sharing makeup tutorials and skin-care regimens, according to TikTok’s recent What’s Next report. Food and fashion, also among the leading categories of content, experienced growth of 197 percent and 287 percent respectively.

One of the most notable recent trends on the platform has been the rise of #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt. Videos uploaded with the hashtag have amassed a global total of 13 billion views as of June 2022.

Moreover, 92 percent of TikTok users said they take action after watching a TikTok video, with one in four globally saying they are inspired to research a product or even make a purchase, according to a TikTok Marketing Science global study conducted by Kantar.

“On TikTok, creativity can take a lot of different forms, especially when it comes to brands,” Fahad Almaghrabi, the head of business partnerships, global business solutions for TikTok in Saudi Arabia, told Arab News.

“Because of TikTok’s community-driven approach, we’ve seen entrepreneurs become creators on the platform and creators become entrepreneurs.”

Almaghrabi shared with Arab News more information about the potential for growth that TikTok offers entrepreneurs and how the platform is helping independent and small businesses.




Fahad Almaghrabi, the head of business partnerships, global business solutions for TikTok in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)

Can you share some examples of the kinds of small businesses and entrepreneurs that are using TikTok as an effective marketing tool?

We are creating an environment where brands, creators and communities are in complete harmony. One example is that of @abdulrahman_khaalid, who is using the platform to educate followers on entrepreneurship and to promote his e-commerce courses.

Small businesses, such as Dubai-based Uncle Fluffy, a Japanese cheesecake franchise, are also utilizing the platform. Uncle Fluffy, known for its fun and engaging content, has built its brand heavily on TikTok. TikTok provides (the brand) with highly organic engagement that has a huge impact on brand awareness.

To further build on this engagement, Uncle Fluffy wanted to take its TikTok presence to the next level and reach more followers. It promoted its organic content with Spark ads, a native ad format that allows brands to boost their own organic content (or the content of other creators) as TikTok ads.

Within just 14 days, Uncle Fluffy hit one million followers by gaining 878,000 new followers, purely through the efforts of this campaign.

What are the advantages for small businesses of using TikTok over other social media platforms?

TikTok offers an authentic and community-driven approach, giving brands and sellers of all sizes a platform to showcase their creativity and personalities in a new way.

Our participatory nature is creating an entirely new way for brands to connect with their communities — it has made product discovery and shopping a native, engaging and entertaining experience for users, which isn’t the same for other platforms.

The magic of TikTok was never limited to creation and expression; it’s also a chance to discover — and be discovered. With TikTok for Business, our goal is to give everyone, from legacy brands to local SMEs (small and medium-size enterprises), the tools to be discovered and connect with broader communities.

Through TikTok for Business, small business owners can represent the most authentic version of their brand on TikTok without limits or judgment, get discovered by a captivated audience that can’t be reached elsewhere, in a sound-on environment, and easily create paid-ad campaigns within minutes to reach their ideal customers.

Additionally, through our TikTok Self-Serve Platform, we give businesses of all sizes an affordable and simple option for reaching the people who matter to them.

Are there any particular types of businesses for which TikTok is particularly well suited?

TikTok is home to a new kind of shopping culture: community commerce, which is the blend of community, entertainment and shopping that makes product discovery unique on TikTok.

Community commerce is where consumers seek validation when making a purchase, and the TikTok community is there to be a trusted source for peer review and word-of-mouth recommendations.

This isn’t limited to any particular business; whether it’s apparel and accessories, beauty and personal care, tech and electronics, or food and beverage, there’s an opportunity to connect and thrive.

To give you an example, in 2021, according to our What’s Next report, the consumption of fashion content in the GCC grew by 287 percent and the consumption of beauty content grew by 169 percent. Needless to say, our communities are thriving and are looking to connect.

What do entrepreneurs need to know about advertising on TikTok?

We have seen how entertainment fuels product discovery and it’s clearing shelves for brands. Our community is fundamentally shifting how people experience commerce. We look to build an experience where brands can showcase their creativity and personalities in a new way, and where people can easily go from discovery to purchase.

There are a host of advertising solutions available through TikTok for Business to support any business’s marketing needs, whether it’s driving traffic to your website, growing online sales or attracting new sales leads, to name a few.

One example of the ads available through our Ads Manager is Spark Ads, which we launched last year in the region. It’s an ad-display format that enables brands and businesses to boost not only their own popular organic posts but also amplify relevant content shared by the community.

We also offer TopView, where when you first open TikTok you may see it as the first piece of content. It is rich, with sound-on and up to 60 seconds long. Our other solutions include branded hashtag challenges, brand takeovers and in-feed ads.

What are the metrics of success that small businesses should look out for?

TikTok has the advantage of being the newest player, allowing us to build an ecosystem of measurement solutions with fresh eyes — a disrupted field of marketing where gaps are created by evolving technology and regulation, and audience behavior presents an opportunity to find new and better ways to achieve brand and business goals.

That brings us to our Measurement Framework goal, which helps brands make smarter advertising decisions on TikTok with a full set of measurement tools made to drive full-funnel business impact. TikTok’s solution is a multi-layer framework, built to be customizable based on the measurement goals an advertiser has identified.

The TikTok Measurement Framework has three primary purposes. Firstly, to be safe and seen, which means that our solutions assure brands that ads are being seen by real people in a safe, fraud-free environment.

Secondly, to build performance through our toolset, which helps advertisers attribute campaign impact and optimize campaign performance. And thirdly, to analyze impact by unpacking the impact of different media investments with TikTok.

Brands should consider these three strategies as buttons to push based on the goals they are trying to measure. The idea is to activate one, two or all three to build a purposeful powerhouse on the TikTok platform, giving brands a clear output to measure success.


Saudi Arabia to host Arab Radio and Television Festival

Saudi Arabia to host Arab Radio and Television Festival
Updated 11 August 2022

Saudi Arabia to host Arab Radio and Television Festival

Saudi Arabia to host Arab Radio and Television Festival
  • Festival running from Nov. 7 to Nov. 10 in Riyadh

RIYADH: Hundreds of media officials are expected at the 22nd edition of the Arab Radio and Television Festival, which will be hosted in Saudi Arabia.

Running from Nov. 7 to Nov. 10 in Riyadh, more than 1,000 media professionals are expected at the four-day event.

Activities will include a broad selection of workshops, discussions and competitions based on the broadcast industry.

The festival, organized by the Saudi Broadcasting Authority, will also have representatives from media organizations including World Broadcasting Unions, European Broadcasting Union, Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, African Union of Broadcasting, Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development, China Global Television Network, International Telecommunication Union and the Mediterranean Center for Audiovisual Communication.

Saudi Arabia’s hosting of the festival, considered one of the most prominent media forums, gives a nod to its importance in the Arab and Islamic worlds as well as efforts to push for cultural transformation the Kingdom is witnessing, state news agency SPA reported.


Disney+ subscribers surge as Netflix stumbles

Disney+ subscribers surge as Netflix stumbles
Updated 11 August 2022

Disney+ subscribers surge as Netflix stumbles

Disney+ subscribers surge as Netflix stumbles

SAN FRANCISCO: The Disney+ streaming service saw its number of paying subscribers leap beyond expectations in the last quarter, as rival Netflix’s client count ebbed, results showed Wednesday.
The number of people subscribing to Disney+ topped 152 million, up some 31 percent from the same period a year earlier, the entertainment giant said in an earnings report.
Disney’s bottom line was also boosted by rising revenue from its theme parks, which showed signs of recovering from stifled attendance during the pandemic.
Better-that-expected earnings reported by Disney came as many of the tech titans that flourished during the pandemic curb costs in the face of inflation and people get back to living life in the real world instead of online.
Disney shares were up more than 6 percent in after-market trades that followed release of the earnings figures.
“We had an excellent quarter, with our world-class creative and business teams powering outstanding performance at our domestic theme parks, big increases in live-sports viewership, and significant subscriber growth at our streaming services,” said Disney chief executive Bob Chapek.
The 14.4 million Disney+ subscribers added in the recently ended quarter raised the overall number of subscriptions to its streaming services, which include Hulu and ESPN+, to 221 million, Chapek added.
The overall number of subscribers to Disney streaming services topped those of Netflix for the first time.
“Investors will breathe a sigh of relief from Disney’s robust fiscal (quarterly) earnings,” said Insider Intelligence principal analyst Paul Verna.
“The streaming figures will be seen as an indicator of the health of the market, especially after lackluster subscriber figures from Netflix and Comcast.”
Disney also announced that an ad-subsidized version of its streaming television subscription service will be offered in the United States starting December 8 at a monthly price $3 less than the ad-free offering.
Taking a page from Netflix’s playbook, Disney has been investing in shows created in places outside the United States.
The company plans to “step up” investments in such local original content, Chapek said, pointing out a film concert and docu-series focused on South Korean music sensation BTS.
He expressed confidence in Disney theater films in the works, including an eagerly anticipated “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” addition to its Marvel superhero line-up.
A trailer for the Black Panther film logged more than 170 million views in the 24 hours after its release, Chapek said.
“Disney still faces economic uncertainty and intense competition, but performance should at least temporarily put to rest some of Wall Street’s gloomier perceptions about the company, and more broadly about the entertainment industry,” said Paul Verna, an analyst at Insider Intelligence.
Rival Netflix has reported losing subscribers for two quarters in a row, as the streaming giant battles fierce competition and viewer belt tightening, though the firm assured investors of better days ahead.
The loss of 970,000 paying customers in the most recent quarter was less than expected, leaving Netflix with just shy of 221 million subscribers.
“Our challenge and opportunity is to accelerate our revenue and membership growth... and to better monetize our big audience,” the firm said in its earnings report.
After years of amassing subscribers, Netflix lost 200,000 customers worldwide in the first quarter compared to the end of 2021.
Netflix said in its earnings report that it had expected to gain a million paid subscribers in the current quarter.
Netflix executives have made it clear the company will get tougher on sharing logins and passwords, which allow many to access the platform’s content without paying.
In an effort to draw new subscribers, Netflix said it will work with Microsoft to launch a cheaper subscription plan that includes advertisements.
The ad-supported offering will be in addition to the three account options already available, with the cheapest plan coming in at $10 per month in the United States.


Universal Pictures International partners with Majid Al Futtaim Distribution in new deal for Arab world

Universal Pictures International partners with Majid Al Futtaim Distribution in new deal for Arab world
Updated 10 August 2022

Universal Pictures International partners with Majid Al Futtaim Distribution in new deal for Arab world

Universal Pictures International partners with Majid Al Futtaim Distribution in new deal for Arab world
  • Partnership comes amid rapid cinema growth and strong box office results in Saudi Arabia and Middle East
  • Under the deal, Majid Al Futtaim Distribution will release Universal Pictures’ titles, including the M. Night Shyamalan thriller “Knock at the Cabin”

LONDON: Universal Pictures International and Majid Al Futtaim Distribution on Wednesday announced a partnership that will see the Emirati-based distribution company release Universal films in Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries, including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the UAE and Egypt.
“This is a very exciting time for cinema in the Middle East with the investment and audience interest at unprecedented levels. We are thrilled to be partnering with Majid Al Futtaim, one of the most ambitious and forward-thinking groups in the region,” said Paul Higginson, executive vice president, EMEA for Universal Pictures International.
News of the partnership, which will take effect on Feb. 1, 2023, comes as Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East experience rapid growth and strong box office results.
Under the deal, Majid Al Futtaim Distribution, one of the largest film distributors in the region and a subsidiary of Majid Al Futtaim Leisure, Entertainment & Cinemas, will release Universal Pictures’ titles, including the M. Night Shyamalan thriller “Knock at the Cabin,” the Super Mario Bros movie and “Renfield” starring Nicolas Cage.
“This strategic partnership reaffirms Majid Al Futtaim’s commitment to deliver compelling content and the ultimate cinematic experience to cinemagoers in the region,” said Ignace Lahoud, CEO of Majid Al Futtaim Leisure, Entertainment & Cinemas.
“We are proud to collaborate with Universal Pictures International, which has a long legacy of producing commercially successful and critically acclaimed movies. We look forward to bringing their impressive slate of blockbuster films and popular movie franchises to the big screen and working together to grow the Middle East’s cinema industry with films that attract a large and diverse audience,” he added.
Niels Swinkels, EVP and managing director of Universal Pictures International, said that the company will continue its distribution relationship with Four Star Films in Lebanon and Cyprus.
He said that Four Star Films “has been our trusted and exemplary partner in the region for over 40 years.”


Kerning Cultures’ new podcast tells ‘forgotten tales’ from around the region

Kerning Cultures’ new podcast tells ‘forgotten tales’ from around the region
Updated 11 August 2022

Kerning Cultures’ new podcast tells ‘forgotten tales’ from around the region

Kerning Cultures’ new podcast tells ‘forgotten tales’ from around the region
  • Arabic-language show ‘Masafat’ aims to bridge ‘gap in media coverage,’ host says

DUBAI: Kerning Cultures Network has released a new show “Masafat” that aims to tell overlooked and forgotten stories spanning the Middle East region — from Jerusalem and Palestine to Egypt and Morocco.

Inspired by the network’s first English show “Kerning Cultures,” “Masafat” was launched because “we believe it’s important to have the same narrative style podcast in Arabic, telling stories in our native language — especially stories that are often overlooked or even forgotten,” Heba Afify, managing editor for Arabic content, told Arab News.

The show’s 13 episodes explore various topics, such as women in mahraganat (a popular form of street music in Egypt), Al-Quds Radio and how it contributed to the cultural and art scene in Palestine, block painting in Syria and reclaiming public spaces in Lebanon.

Afify, who also hosts the show, said: “There’s a gap in the media coverage when it comes to representation of what life looks like in our region, away from the politics and the sensational takes that often constitute the majority of media attention the region receives.”

She said the company was keen on “producing every episode with the perspective and knowledge of a local producer who knows the place and topic inside and out. So besides our diverse team, we collaborated with freelance producers from the countries that we cover in each episode.”

Although podcasts are a relatively new medium, they have grown in popularity with 67 percent of listeners in Saudi Arabia tuning in at least once a week, according to a 2021 report by Rising Giants Network.

“‘Masafat’ is built on the understanding that podcasts as a medium offer a safe space for stories that often don’t get featured or picked up by mainstream media,” said the network’s marketing director, Bella Ibrahim.

“Podcasts especially resonate with younger listeners that don’t feel seen or represented in mainstream media,” she added, with more than half of podcast listeners aged under 22, according to Mohtwize’s latest report.

The goal of “Masafat” is not only to tell overlooked stories but also to shine a light on the true nature of the region by exploring the “lost pieces of our history, the complex realities behind flashy headlines, inspirational journeys and the multifaceted unique realities of living in each corner of this region,” Afify said.

“Such nuanced coverage of our region grounded in deep knowledge and experience and an authentic and sympathetic approach is very much lacking and is crucial in correcting misrepresentation and giving our stories a place to be told.”


Taliban gunmen attack Al-Hadath TV team during live broadcast in Kabul

Taliban gunmen attack Al-Hadath TV team during live broadcast in Kabul
Updated 10 August 2022

Taliban gunmen attack Al-Hadath TV team during live broadcast in Kabul

Taliban gunmen attack Al-Hadath TV team during live broadcast in Kabul
  • Journalists were covering the UN’s aid distribution
  • Cameraman attacked with a whip, reporters pushed around

LONDON: Several armed Taliban members attacked an Al-Hadath TV team on Wednesday during a live broadcast while they were covering the Food and Agriculture Organization’s humanitarian aid distribution in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul.

In the video of the incident, Al-Hadath’s Kabul correspondent Christiane Baissary and her camera crew are seen being pushed around by men carrying guns, while the camera pans away.

Baissary is then heard saying “they attacked the cameraman,” while the camera focuses on two men waving their hands and guns at the TV team.

Al-Hadath’s correspondent then explains that the men are Taliban members in civilian dress.

“Some said we could film here, but others said we cannot,” explains Baissary. In the video, one armed Taliban man waves the camera away, and then forces the cameraman from the scene.

Baissary reiterates that one man has allowed them to film the FAO’s food aid distribution, but that another has attacked the cameraman with a whip, which is seen in his hand.

Baissary is then heard saying that they have to leave the scene, with the camera still rolling.

As the team members climb into their car, another Taliban man with a gun approaches the vehicle and the reporter is heard saying: “They entered the car and they are armed.”

The armed man then speaks to the driver and they drive off.

Since their takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, the Taliban have cracked down on press freedom in the country, prompting several watchdogs to increasingly voice their concerns about the safety of media workers.

According to the 2022 World Press Freedom Index, Afghanistan ranks 156 out of 180 countries in terms of freedom of the press.

At least 12 journalists were arbitrarily arrested in Afghanistan in May, according to Reporters without Borders, despite the Taliban announcing the creation of a system for protecting media personnel.