Cloudflare, a web performance and security company, has released its 2021 Year in Review Internet and traffic rankings, and to surprise of a few, TikTok has been ranked as the most popular website (domain) in the world

What is surprising though is that TikTok beat out including its services, such as, Maps, Translate, Photos, Flights, Books, News, and others. The report also highlights that:

We can see that TikTok (who also surpassed Google, as we explained before in the global #1 spot) took Facebook from its crown of the most popular social media website-domain in our ranking. So, that should mean that TikTok got more Internet traffic from our standpoint (our ranking is derived from our public DNS resolver and so it's not related to the number of unique users or visitors it gets per month) — Facebook is, by far, the platform with more users worldwide).

According to Cloudflare, TikTok first peaked in the global traffic rankings in Feb, 2021, followed by a few days in March, June and then, finally, a permanent stay at the top beginning in late August. 

TikTok has piqued the curiosity of users of all ages and demographics. Users flock to the site for its cooking hacks, memes, and latest dance trends, to highlight just a few trends.

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The so what, of this hoopla?

New York Times (NYT) reported that retailers see TikTok as a “holy grail of marketing,” as they want to reach influencers and particularly, Gen Z, as cable television’s popularity continues to decline. According to Maddison Peel, a 22 year old influencer on TikTok, with over 300K followers:

“No millennials or Gen Z are watching TV as much, so they don’t see those ads,” she said, “but when they’re scrolling on TikTok, they’re seeing those.”

According to the NYT report: As of Aug, at least 18 public retail brands, in apparel, makeup...etc, have referred to their strategy on TikTok, during their financial reporting to analysts. 

“Brands have moved from just testing out TikTok to making it a budget line item or creating dedicated campaigns for TikTok specifically.”

“The growth that we’ve seen is insane,” Krishna Subramanian, a founder of the influencer marketing firm Captiv8, told NYT. 

With mental health the top concern for many young people, TikTok has emerged as a “sunny place” compared with other social platformssaid Craig Brommers, chief marketing officer of American Eagle Outfitters.

Competitors of TikTok are vehemently trying to keep pace. Instagram and YouTube, have developed TikTok-like feature called Reels & YouTube shorts - not to much success.

Katrina Estrella, a spokeswoman for Meta (formerly Facebook), which also owns Instagram, has suggested that the company was testing “a range of bonus programs” in the US as part of a $1 billion investment in creators.