Get ready. TikTok Ads are coming!

Published on 3 March 2020

Did you know TikTok was formerly known as musical.ly? Did you also know that the app is used in 150 countries with over 1 billion users worldwide? Recently TikTok reached 10 million users in the UK and shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.

The 'stickiness' of the app is also very impressive: users spend an average of 52 minutes per day on it, and they open the app around 8 times per day. That's a huge amount of user attention.

The user group is fairly young compared to the ever ageing Facebook audience: 60% of users are aged between 16-24 and 26% are aged between 25-44. This age grouping is likely to change, as TikTok aims to compete with platforms like Spotify and YouTube, focusing on content over funky dance videos. Don't believe me? Think back to when Google set up Gmail and were laughed at by other software providers. TikTok will expand very quickly into other services and not only focus on funky dancing hashtag challenges.

With such an active and growing audience, it's inevitable that TikTok will become a huge advertising platform and advertisers are lining up. So here is an overview of the current status of TikTok advertising and the possibilities.

Advertising so far...

Ads on TikTok are still pretty rare. Some big brand advertisers like Nike and Disney have run significant campaigns, but these came at a price: the minimum level of investment required for a brand campaign is thought to be $50,000 and this amount will buy you 5 million guaranteed impressions in a day. If you do have access to the BETA self serve ad platform then the minimum spend is $500 for a campaign (I'll go more into the beta platform in a moment).

It's good to keep in mind that the most powerful advertising application within the app is the use of #hashtags that are likely to be shared as part of a campaign. A successful campaign ran by Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc in the US went viral with brilliant influencer content and the hashtag #boorito which boosted sales by 15%.

Influencers

The platform is still very much shaped by the role of influencers, and if you want to run a covert ad campaign with engaging content then you really need the big bucks and connections to influencer ad agencies.

Still in BETA

The ad platform is still very much in BETA and from what we've seen so far the layout has a striking resemblance to the Facebook self service ad platform. The platform enables advertising on the the whole ByteDance family including apps like BuzzVideo, News Republic and Vigo Video.

The ad platform is officially only open in countries like Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam where it’s gaining huge popularity. It would seem TikTok are keen to keep tabs on their platform by formally launching in the APAC over countries like the US. The reasons for a limited release could include the ease for TikTok to expand their platform capabilities like music streaming and payments as Google typically has less influence in these regions. Types of creative

At the moment the platform offers brand takeovers, in-feed ads, branded lenses and hashtag challenges.

In Feed Video

In-feed native video ads seem to be the best creative option at the moment, with the focus on an integrated experience which utilises vertical video. This ad unit is incredibly scalable and my prediction is that this can eclipse YouTube advertising in terms of reach among a younger audience and it's simply less annoying than a pre-roll. Thanks to DigiDay

Branded Lenses (Filters)

In line with the developments of Lens AR (SnapChat) and Spark AR (Instagram, FB) TikTok offer branded lenses which enable advertisers to promote their brand or product. Lenses can go live for 10 days. At the moment it's only 2D, meaning the filters are basic compared to the likes of Snap. No alt text provided for this image

Hashtag Challenges

TikTok's ‘virality’ has been pretty much built around its use of challenges. Advertisers can create a banner which appears on the TikTok Discover page to encourage users to partake in a branded challenge. Here is a fun example on YouTube. Our feeling is that challenges require deep user engagement, and are much more suited to a younger audience. Kroger have a good example of a sponsored hashtag that links with shopping ads. No alt text provided for this image

In Summary…

So it’s pretty early days for the ad platform with a long way to go in terms of scalable ad units that are accessible for all. There is no doubt that when TikTok makes their ad platform available to wider use, the floodgates will surely open. Lets hope the platform is less buggy than Facebook Business Manager.

If you want more information on TikTok ads please reach out to AGCS as we participate in the BETA.

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