2019 was the best year for TikTok so far when it comes to revenue and number of downloads. Within the year, the app was downloaded over 738 million times and brought in gross revenue of $177 million, representing 71% of all time, according to statistics from market analytics firm Sensor Tower.
Sensor Tower also reports that TikTok was the second-most downloaded app of the year, but numbers provided by App Annie rebutted this, claiming that the app came in at the 4th place following Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger.
App Annie also revealed that the total amount of time users spend on TikTok was 68 billion hours last year, representing an increase of 210% compared to 2018.
Despite the fact that TikTok was banned in India for a brief period, the country still managed to contribute a major part to its download. 323 million instances of download (44% of total) were registered from India – increased by 27% compared to the previous year.
In terms of countries where revenue came from, though, China took the crown. Chinese-based iOS users spent a total of $122.9 Million on TikTok in 2019, which is 69% of the app’s overall revenue of the year. Coming in second is the US with $36 million and the UK with $4.2 million spendings respectively.
Despite its popularity, however, Tiktok has yet to implement a permanent monetization method. It experimented around with several ad formats over the past year including branded videos, hashtag challenges, lens filters, and more. However, that has proven to be not very effective.
Tiktok's revenue and growth are indeed impressive, but they pale in comparison with media titans such as Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube, all of which have annual incomes of billions of dollars. If the video-sharing service wants to compete with YouTube and attract more content creators to its platform, it has to put more effort into its monetization department.
A major reason that TikTok has not been able to advertise effectively is the lack of users’ data, such as what they like/dislike, what topics they discuss, and more. Still, the app is relatively young, so it’s somewhat unfair to put it next to Facebook or Twitter, which TikTok is still a new app with enormous potential and it’s a bit unfair to compare it with companies like Facebook or Twitter, which have been around for over a decade now.
TikTok certainly shows potentials, but if it wants to become a billion-dollar firm in the future, it needs to figure out a reliable monetization model.