December 2, 2020: Snapchat launches TikTok clone; TikTok ban gets delayed; Black Friday sales fall short

Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:

Snapchat Casts Spotlight on TikTok

The Story

Snapchat has officially launched its in-app TikTok competitor, Spotlight. 

Another TikTok competitor?

You betcha. Spotlight will surface vertical video content from users that’s meme-like and jokey instead of the day-in-the-life content that Snap previously encouraged. With Spotlight, users can create short videos up to 60 seconds and edit them with tools such as: captions, licensed music, original sound recordings, AR filters, GIFs and hashtags. 

Speaking of creators… are they even on the app?

If they’re not, they may be soon. The platform has (very) publicly announced that it’s distributing $1M per day to the creators who post videos to the new feature. To earn money from a Spotlight submission, Snapchat is using what it’s calling a “proprietary formula” that determines the amount of unique views a piece of content receives compared to other content submitted that day. 

What about the infamous TikTok algorithm?

We all know the algorithm is what makes TikTok so wildly addictive (and if you don’t, you’ve clearly never spent time on the app). Similar to TikTok, the Spotlight algorithm is content-based, not connections-based, meaning it’s based on what you engage with, not whom. Spotlight uses a ranking algorithm to determine which videos are most likely to appeal to users, based on how long people spend watching the video and how often the video is shared and “favorited.” The algorithm also considers negative factors, such as how quickly Snapchat users skipped the video. 


It’s TikTok’s world, we’re just livin’ it. With Spotlight, Snapchat is clearly acknowledging the success of TikTok’s dominance in the short-form video space — just like Instagram did with the launch of Reels. However, where Instagram simply encourages users to bring their TikTok content to the platform and repurpose it for Reels, Snap is instead trying to encourage people to use its own creation tools and keep people in the app. While Instagram’s approach has resulted in repurposed content that has largely fallen flat, Snapchat is asking people to create net new content for a platform that many argue was already on its way out… which may result in lackluster performance. 

In order for Spotlight to truly achieve mainstream adoption, it needs high-quality, thumb-stopping content — and lots of it. How does Snap do this? Incentivize creators. There’s no denying the $1B is a great place to start (literal snaps for Snap who is the first platform to compensate creators for viral posts). However, without any native monetization features built into the platform, it’s too soon to tell  if creators will feel inclined to create new content for a platform that many didn’t feel was particularly valuable in the first place. And without a guaranteed incentive? Sounds unlikely if you ask us. 

Is this enough to revive Snap from the dead? Tbh, not sure, but it’s definitely enough to make headlines and worth paying attention to.

Not Unrelated: TikTok Ban Gets Delayed… Again

The Story

The TikTok ban has been delayed again. 

Let me pull out my shocked face. 

We know – it’s feeling like Groundhog’s Day. Anyways, we’ll give you the deets.

ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, was given a new deadline of Dec. 4 to complete a proposed sale of the platform to the dynamic duo of Oracle and Walmart. This time, the extension was granted under the basis of needing “time to review [a] revised submission” for the divestment of TikTok. Don’t worry, you’re not alone — no one is really sure what that means.

What is TikTok’s basis for argument?

In its legal filings, TikTok has argued that Trump has relied on “anti-Chinese rhetoric” during his unsuccessful re-election campaign, and that the idea of banning the app came after TikTok users ordered tickets to Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma with the intention of not going so that it would look like audience projections were larger  than they actually turned out to be.


Another week, another delay. Have you gotten sick of us saying that yet? We have. 

TLDR; at this point, it seems unlikely that the platform will be banned under the current administration. Let’s play out the most likely scenario — the pending litigation from ByteDance and TikTok challenging the Trump administration drags into 2021 and the whole issue becomes a moot point when president-elect Joe Biden’s administration decides to abandon the forced sale of the platform. Case closed… eventually. 

Black Friday & Cyber Monday Round-up

The Story

This year’s Black Friday was the third-largest online spending day in U.S. history, while this year’s Cyber Monday took the cake as the largest online spending day in U.S. history. 

The estimated numbers, as reported by Adobe’s “2020 Holiday Shopping Trends”:

  • Increased Sales from 2019, Low End of Predicted Range: U.S. consumers spent $9 billion online on Black Friday, up 21.6% from a year ago. Adobe had originally forecast sales between $8.9 billion and $9.6 billion. 
  • In-Store Shopping Plummets, While Online Sales Grow: Unsurprisingly, traffic at stores on Black Friday fell by 52.1% compared with last year. About 45% of consumers said they shopped “all online,” “more online,” or “much more online” than in-store this year, compared to just 34% last year. 
  • Smartphones Accounted for Increasing Proportion of Online Sales: Smartphones accounted for $3.6 billion, up 25.3%. On Thanksgiving Day, nearly half of all online purchases were made on a smartphone. 
  • Cyber Monday Saw Huge Spike in Sales: Cyber Monday spending was up 15% from last year, posting $10.8 billion in sales. However, this was below Adobe’s $12.7 billion estimate. 


Analysts are saying that, despite record Black Friday online sales and Cyber Monday spikes, it’s not enough to make up for lost store visits. Although many are likely to point to the pandemic for declining sales figures, the pandemic simply intensified what brick & mortar retailers were already dealing with.  It’s been a dismal year for retailer Chapter 11 filings, with a record estimated 25,000 stores expected to close in 2020 — and there will likely be more announced early next year. 

Small businesses are in an even more dire fight to survive. With Small Business Saturday occurring this past weekend, many influencers’ feeds and stories were focused on #shopsmall efforts. Influencers even reported being more open to working with small businesses this holiday season, so we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for a mix of holiday content that spans traditional retail, ecommerce and small business this season.


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