Betting on Changing the Way Users Experience Ads with Ray Cao, TikTok

Big Bets in Product: Ray Cao, TikTok

When you think of TikTok, what comes to mind? Dancing. Lip Singing. Viral content.

Ray Cao is the Managing Director and Global Head of Product Strategy and Operations at TikTok. He spent six and a half years helping to build Google Shopping before helping TikTok break out in Southeast Asia.

With his robust background in advertising, Ray’s a perfect fit to help the short-form video platform take on its next bet “providing the cutting edge product to business partners” through advertisement opportunities. 

“So even though it’s an advertising business model, we’re still serving the purpose of generating interesting content for the user so that they don’t feel that it’s intrusive.” – Ray Cao

In the conversation with Christian, Ray challenges the way advertising is thought about and it may change your viewpoint too.


  • Develop the groundwork to serve all components of a product strategy: creators, business partners, and users. 
  • Ads should be viewed as valuable content not intrusive 
  • Advertising has been around since the beginning of human beings 
  • The best method of marketing is word of mouth
  • Business models can evolve overtime 

Things to Listen For:

  • [6:39] The big bet Ray’s making
  • [07:28] Understanding Hashtag Challenges
  • [09:27] Standing on the shoulders of giants 
  • [10:23] The power of the TikTok creators 
  • [12:42] How people view ads
  • [16:37] Why ads can be enriching 
  • [18:23] How TikTok is replicating word-of-mouth marketing for advertisers
  • [22:05] Ray breaks down how TikTok connects ideas to creators to business partners 
  • [25:25] Educating the market on how a brand can use TikTok
  • [27:56] Embarking on the ad-based model
  • [35:00] Community as a core value for TikTok