Marketing with TikTok Ads – All You Need to Know


TikTok Ads help marketers can benefit from very high levels of engagement and growing young audiences. The app started to get a lot of popularity over the last couple of years. Although exact numbers and stats about the users of the app contradict in a lot of surveys, marketers do report good results from initial tests. According to eMarketer TikTok’s presentation at New York Marketing Week was overbooked, which shows a lot of interest from advertisers.

There are few advertising formats which Tiktok offers and most of them are quite similar to formats we see on Snapchat, Instagram and Youtube.

What exactly is Tiktok?

Tiktok is an app owned by a Chinese company called Bytedance. The Chinese version of TikTok is called Douyin and has over 500 thousand users in China. TikTok has been available outside of China since 2017, but it became vastly popular in 2018. This is highly due to the fact that in 2017 Bytedance acquired the already popular app and relaunched it as TikTok. To illustrate the rapid change – in 2018 TikTok had more installs than Instagram (663 thousand vs 444 thousand). 

TitTok is purley short video content platform. You can follow creators, who post short videos with hashtags to music background of famous pop songs and movies. Users recreate the videos again and again in different versions. For an outsider the platform might look a bit repetitive, but it is highly addictive. 

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Some of the main differences of TikTok vs YouTube and Instagram is the authenticity of creators. Most videos are shot with a mobile phone at the homes of the creators. There is no special lighting, camera sets and polished fake images which is the trademark of Instagram. To some extent YouTube also lost a lot of its authenticity as competition went high and a lot of creators went to ready formulas which bring success. TikTok’s algorithm allows any account to become viral relatively easy which is highly rewarding for young creators.

Getting on TikTok does not require an account – you can consume video content straight from the moment you download the app. The home page is called “For you” and  it uses machine learning technology to show the videos most suitable for you based on watching and interaction history. The formats encourage users to interact with the content with comments, likes. It’s much easier to share content across all other social media channels directly form TikTok.

Who is on TikTok?

TikTok is highly popular with teenage audiences and about half of the users are under 35. After China the highest number of users is in India – 120 million. The USA is another growing market with 17% of teenagers using TikTok every week. According to other studies it might be much less than that. In Europe and Latin America TikTok does not have a lot of popularity yet. Germany and France are the countries with the highest number of users – roughly 4 million each. 

One interesting statistic shows TikTok has the social media mobile app with second highest time on screen than Facebook amongst UK and Canadian users – 400-500 minutes a month. 

TikTok Ads

Ads on TikTok are still in testing and there are few big brands which experiment there. The main format is In feed video – which is quite similar to the Bumper ads on YouTube. Call to action can be leading to a website or downloading an app.

The TikTok Ads Image Format

Another interesting format is Hashtag challenge. Brands can give users a hashtag challenge for them to create content around the hashtag. One example is the Burberry challenge where users had to recreate the Burberry Thompson monogram. These challenges result in high visibility amongst young audiences which brands value. TikTok also allows brand page take over – similar to YouTube masthead format.  The new Hashtag Challenge Plus format has also an e-commerce element. In the hashtag page users can purchase items from the advertisers without leaving TikTok’s app.

When it comes to getting traffic to an external website TikTok does not seem to be the best place, as it is quite hard to insert links. 

Audience targeting is reported to be not so accurate in comparison with Instagram and Google. Some of the targeting options are demographics, interests, price of phone device and connection speed.  Similar audiences and remarketing of lists are also available. Advertisers can either upload emails of users they have got offline or remarket users who have interacted with their ad.

When it comes to measurement, conversion tracking is possible with a pixel which advertisers can place on their website.

In a nutshell, TikTok advertising is quite similar to ads on all other social media channels. The only difference is growing audience and new creative type of communication with users.

Concerns about TikTok

Tiktok has privacy issues and was fined 5.7 million dollars by the US Federal trade commission as had collected personal information from children without parental consent.

As a Chinese company there have also been concerns about potential surveillance of TikTok users. Washington Post has suggested the potential of censorship on TikTok as there were rarely posts related to the Hong Kong protests which were widely discussed on Twitter. The official answer was that the audience of TikTok comes to the platform for pure entertainment.

Other concerns were the safety of content distributed on the platform. A lot of the videos a re created by very young people and some are sexually suggestive. BBC news found hundreds of examples of sexually suggestive and explicit comments on videos from children and teens. In October TikTok had to remove videos promoting the Islamic State including beheadings after being notified by Wall Street Journal.

About me: I am an experienced digital marketing professional and a Googler. I have taught over 3000 people in online marketing, sales and PPC. Get my new book. I blog weekly and teach on Udemy with more than 2,700 students enrolled in my online course. Subscribe to my YouTube channel. Follow on Instagram and Twitter @odolena