After nearly three months of shortlisting and vetting, Bytedance has named Jack of Digital as its representative reseller for TikTok in Pakistan, a source at GroupM told Profit on Tuesday. As initially reported by Profit in August 2020, Bytedance paused the sales of TikTok branded hashtag challenges in Pakistan when it commenced a search for a Pakistan-based sales partner.
As mentioned in the report by Profit, ByteDance shortlisted Brainchild Communications Pakistan, East River, JVentures, JackOfDigital, The Brand Crew, and three more independently owned companies, primarily being evaluated based on the in-market expertise of the owner.
Co-founded by Faisal Sheikh in May 2020, a former director of Z2C, Jack of Digital is currently a sales partner for programmatic contender Eskimi, as well as Mufta.pk and Mettis Global. A source at Bytedance shared that the reseller bid would be awarded to a company where the owner is a seasoned executive that is considered to be the leading authority in social media marketing, digital advertising, and business diversification. Sheikh declined to respond to requests for comments pertaining to this appointment.
An alumnus of MIT, Sheikh has two decades of industry experience in Pakistan across brand marketer and agency executive roles. As the head of digital advertising at Brainchild Communications, he led digital-first campaigns for companies such as P&G, Samsung, Telenor, Emirates Airlines, and played a role in both the 2013 and 2018 political election campaigns of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the latter of which was won on a $4.7 million media budget.
Prior to learning that Jack of Digital was named the TikTok reseller for Pakistan, select sources in WPP told Profit that Sheikh was poised to join GroupM to lead a supply-side platform (SSP) for the media investment giant. Similar market rumors hinted at him joining Instagram or YouTube. As the TikTok reseller for Pakistan, Jack of Digital will be tasked with working with advertisers and agencies that are eager to tap into the 25 million users of the platform, using a range of ad products such as reservation ads, the branded hashtag challenge, and auction ads.
As reported in Why are Pakistani advertisers ignoring TikTok?, advertisers and agencies shared seven concerns holding them back from working directly with the video-sharing social networking service owned by ByteDance, including brand safety concerns, expensive ad products, the possibility of a platform ban by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), and the lack of a self-serve advertising platform. Last Monday, the PTA issued a press release asking TikTok to block the vulgar, indecent, and immoral content for viewership in Pakistan.
“Keeping in view the growing concerns in the society with respect to content, the PTA chairman held an online meeting with senior management of TikTok,” said a press release issued by the company. “While acknowledging the recent efforts of the platform for taking down the indecent content, the PTA chairman asked the platform to put in place stronger content monitoring and moderation mechanism so that the unlawful material was not accessible within Pakistan.”
Bytedance declined to respond to questions shared by Profit pertaining to how much control – if at all – the reseller would have over content policy and content moderation.
Faisal Sheikh, CEO of Jack of Digital, said, “TikTok is an amazing platform and offers
tremendous value for advertisers in Pakistan because of its popularity with the masses. As a result of this partnership, Pakistani advertisers will have access to new online advertising formats that no other platform can offer.”
According to a post-Covid-19 forecast from a leading Publicis Groupe media agency, advertisers in Pakistan are expected to spend $440 million – a drop of almost $55 million – access all advertising mediums during the 2021 fiscal year. Nearly 26% of this, valued at $114.4 million, will be directed towards digital – search, mobile, online video, social media –, according to the forecast.
As reported by Profit, in 2023 advertisers in Pakistan are forecasted to spend 100 billion rupees, of which digital will make up 49pc of advertiser marketing budgets, valued at $300 million. The allocation is expected to result in a nationwide media inhousing trend, for which local media agencies are yet to prepare for.
“TikTok has been gaining popularity in Pakistan and we are very proud of our growing creative community,” said Shant Oknayan, the general manager for Global Business Solutions at TikTok. “Onboarding a trusted advertising and sales partner in the market will enable local advertisers to better understand the opportunities on TikTok and meaningfully engage with the community.”