TikTok has begun blocking links to app stores in creators’ bios, TechCrunch learned and the company confirmed. The block, which will have significant impact on CPI (cost per install) campaign deals between creators and brands, also extends to third-party link-in-bio solutions like Linktree.
The change was first spotted by Sendit’s co-founder David Tesler, who remarked on Twitter he and others had tested the functionality across a range of accounts and found the links no longer worked to redirect clicks to the App Store. Instead, when clicked, the links displayed a message reading “action cannot be completed.”
Tesler also noted the one exception to the issue appeared to be accounts that had an advertising relationship with TikTok.
While TikTok didn’t offer an official statement on this recent change, the company did confirm that personal creator accounts will no longer have the ability to link to app store pages. However, they will be able to link out to websites, as before.
Going forward, only TikTok business accounts will be able to link to app store pages. There won’t be any fee for this functionality — in other words, businesses don’t have to pay to add the link or agree to advertise on the platform in order to utilize this option.
In addition, TikTok says it’s rolling out a new “Download app” button for business accounts to use — and this is also not an ad product.
The company believes this change will improve the clarity between businesses and personal accounts by making their feature sets more distinct. But it’s also clearly a push to shift more of the ad dollars that are today flowing to creators through campaigns to go directly to TikTok’s coffers instead. Now, businesses looking to point TikTok users to their app’s App Store listing will likely want to promote the account with the functional link by way of ads.
In recent years, TikTok has had increasing influence on the App Store’s Top Charts — sometimes artificially inflating the real-world popularity of certain apps as a flood of TikTok users rush to install the app from a marketing campaign. These users don’t always stick around beyond the first install, yet the velocity of the new downloads would send the app into the top charts, allowing others to also discover it. With this change, TikTok-driven installs may decline on the app stores, as creators wouldn’t be able to run the same kind of campaigns as before.