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Just how much advertising and affiliate content are you exposed to on TikTok? About as much as you’d see on network TV, according to Insider.

Two reporters from the publication took on the task of watching 500 TikToks each and tracking how many ads they saw throughout. The result ended up being about 30 percent for both of them. The majority of ad-related content were traditional ads, with the rest being a combination of affiliate content, sponsored content, self-promotion of a business or product, and product reviews (which was counted as an ad-related category because it’s referencing a certain product).

Admittedly, it was an unscientific experiment, said the reporters. Yet, even taking the time and effort to quantify their experiences on the app was revelatory, since TikTok is notoriously secretive about the details of its scary-good algorithm.

One thing we do know is that lately TikTok has been pushing hard for ways to monetize the app and make it more of an e-commerce platform. Recently, TikTok debuted its TikTok Shop and affiliate commission program, which let creators earn a cut from sales of products they promoted from the Shop. TikTok also reportedly has plans to sell its own products, much like Amazon when it began its “Sold by Amazon” program.

It’s unclear whether TikTok’s recent initiatives are related, but users have noticed a definite uptick in ads and commerce-related posts. Users have complained of their FYP’s being filled with ads, seeing ads every few videos, or noticing how their algorithm has shifted to videos promoting a product they watched an ad for once.

Both reporters were shocked, not only by the amount of ads they counted, but how much they had become accustomed to advertisers competing for their attention, especially since ads and product promotion are snuck into more innocuous seeming videos. “Before starting my ‘research,’ I was annoyed with how many ads I saw, but I wouldn’t say I considered them truly obstructive to my content-viewing experience,” said Sebastian Cahill, co-author of the story. “Once I started paying attention, though, I realized I saw an ad after every two or three regular TikToks.”

Co-author Hannah Getahun pointed out that the percentage of ads they counted on TikTok was typical to network TV which is sometimes 28 percent of the show.

TikTok is testing an ad-free version for $4.99. So, eventually, you’ll have the option of handing over your hard-earned money to keep your FYP pristine — or living with an ad-filled algorithm.

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