5 charts showing where people (and advertisers) would go after TikTok

If TikTok gets banned (and it’s a very big “if”), advertisers need to know where consumers will go. Instagram and YouTube would likely benefit, but OTT TV like Netflix could also see gains. Advertisers may even branch out to other categories entirely, like retail media. Here are five charts showing what could happen.

1. Instagram Reels are in the lead

TikTok users said they would replace TikTok with Instagram Reels, which was closely followed by YouTube Shorts, according to Cowen. Some 37% of people say they have no plans to shift to another platform in the event of a TikTok ban, but considering overall time spent with digital video in the US will be over 3 hours per day on average this year, it’s likely these users would also pivot.

2. Facebook and Instagram are still ahead of TikTok in users—probably

A pivot to Reels, which are supported on both Instagram and Facebook, makes sense, because over 130 million users already frequent both platforms, according to our forecast. But TikTok may have Instagram beat in use.

The platform announced it had 150 million monthly active users last week. But it’s unclear if that’s an average or a specific month’s use. That number also likely includes business, duplicative, and spam accounts, meaning the real number of people scrolling TikTok is likely lower.

3. Instagram also leads in downloads

Instagram was the most downloaded social media app in the US last year, according to Apptopia. TikTok is not on this list, because Apptopia now classifies the site as an entertainment platform rather than a social media one.

Considering TikTok serves digital videos, that classification makes sense. But would TikTok users want to replace an entertainment app with a social one like Instagram? In the event of a ban, they may not have another option.

4. Speaking of entertainment platforms …

Last year, TikTok surpassed YouTube in average time spent per day by US users, according to our forecast. With time spent on TikTok increasing, the app could start to replace Netflix next as it encroaches on a wider range of media formats than just social.

More people use YouTube than TikTok. If TikTok went away, they’d probably spend more time on YouTube. But people could also end up spending more time with other forms of media, including OTT TV formats like Netflix.

5. Ad dollars could branch out to other categories

While social media ad spend slows, retail media ad spend is climbing. Retail media could indirectly benefit from a TikTok ban, according to Insider Intelligence principal analyst Jasmine Enberg.

Whether TikTok gets banned or not, advertisers should look not only at where users are spending their time, but at where ad spend goes the furthest. Right now, retail media looks like a pretty good option.

This was originally featured in the eMarketer Daily newsletter. For more marketing insights, statistics, and trends, subscribe here.