Is Spotlight REALLY a Competitor for TikTok

TikTok, the little app that could, seemed to come from nowhere and blow up in no time at all. Shortly after its arrival it grew a strong and loyal fanbase of young audiences (54m active users to be precise). The app itself allows users to post short lip-synced videos with edgy transition effects which in turn gain droves of followers and can easily attain viral status. The app itself has remained untouched and relatively unrivalled for a quite a chunk of time as competitors failed to compete – yet Snap have brought their ‘Spotlight’ feature to market which hopes to at last present a worthwhile TikTok competitor. But the question remains, can it really compete? Liniad explores:


TikTok came to play in a different way to any of its predecessors.Its approach to promoting videos  within the app seemed to be a winner from the get-go. The app opens to a pre-selected feed of videos based on whatever data it has gathered on the user, even upon first entry – the entire concept of what we knew so far felt flipped on its head. Where Instagram and the like focus on promoting influencers, TikTok focuses on distributing videos themselves. For this reason alone, TikTok has become a cultural phenomenon and competitors long to come for this crown.

Enter Snap who recently updated Snapchat with a new feature called ‘Spotlight’, providing endless feeds of short videos catered for each user. Sound familiar? The format holds promise for the Snap empire and aims to absorb popular characteristics of TikTok into existing Snapchat behaviors. 

In this dog-eat-dog mobile app ecosystem, Snap is coming for TikTok the way Facebook came for Snapchat when it added Stories to Instagram – and now 500m users later, and Stories still running strong (it even made its way to LinkedIn – a surprise to us all!) , it’s safe to call that move a success. Yet Snap is still holding strong with 249m daily users despite surrendering exclusivity on its engaging video format and despite the fierce new TikTok competitor which added 50m monthly active users in the US – which proves a point that apps already have user loyalty and giving them more features, even on ‘inspired’ concepts, could be a key to success. 

Engagement & Ads

With Spotlight adding this TikTok’ian element to its app – namely providing another way to share and view self-made videos, it’s safe to say that it has all the potential it needs to increase engagement for Snapchat and prove itself successful leading more users to create Snaps for an ever increasing amount of users to view them.  Snap has also recently seen healthy movement away from less ad-profitable private messaging towards its ‘Shows’ and ‘Discover’ sections which can be much easier monetized – Spotlight has the power to move this evolution forward for a healthier monetization strategy. 

On the subject of monetization, Spotlight could be quite the money maker, selling high value ads via 6-second commercial videos. Ads are only currently run via Snapchat’s ‘Shows’ and ‘Games’. Spotlight could very well be the opportunity to further the adoption of ‘Sponsored Lenses’ which definitely hold potential to drive more creators to the app.  

It is worthwhile to note that whereas TikTok has indeed explored adding shopping elements to its UX for creators to make commissions selling products, Snap has already rolled out shoppable features partnering with Amazon and could very well use Spotlight to expand on shopping and build on its catalog ads. 

Our Survey Says…

The question remains, will Snap’s Spotlight-game be strong enough to overtake TikTok? 

Ultimately it is far too early to tell, yet if nothing else, Spotlight could provide Snapchat a new feature to significantly boost interest, and as clips are being displayed in full screen, Snapchat is now able to use more specific indicators to deliver per user interest, increasing Spotlight feed engagement over time. Spotlight may not immediately be perceived as being a major threat to TikTok, it’s quite impossible to make any kind of realistic guess without seeing its development strategy. 

“Ultimately Spotlight does not really HAVE to become a TikTok rival for it to be considered a smash success. If it offers users a new way to expand beyond current habits, that could be enough in itself to justify the new feature. Even if a small number of Snapchat users migrate to Spotlight, it could still be classed a winner.” 

Our take? Watch this space. Both Snap and TikTok are major players delivering major revenues in various ways. Spotlight could well be something to factor into ad spend without the need to veer away from TikTok… should the latter still remain alive.

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