Much has been written and discussed about TikTok influencer marketing already. There are countless ongoing conversations about how to find the right Influencers to partner with, when and how often to post, and how to keep up on the viral trends that seemingly appear out of thin air and are replaced overnight by an even bigger, better trend. While all of these conversations are relevant and necessary to have in order for strategists to really make the most out of their influencer campaigns on TikTok, they overlook a vital component of what it takes to make a name for your brand on the app— TikTok ads.
Since the release of their TikTok For Business tool in the summer of 2020, it has never been easier for strategists, marketers, and brands alike to create ads and run campaigns on the app. While some strategists are influencer marketing purists and prefer to keep campaigns organic, many brands are finding success through the use of strategically designed advertisements. So many, in fact, that in 2020 TikTok generated $1 billion in revenue from ads on the platform alone.
To begin crafting TikTok ads that connect with the wide, untapped audience you’re looking for, read on for everything you need to know about TikTok advertising for influencer campaigns.
The 5 Types of TikTok Ads
The first decision you need to make when running a TikTok ad campaign is which types of ads you want to publish. Depending on your campaign goals, the ad types you choose will differ. The most comprehensive campaigns are a mix of these ad types.
These ads are the ones that TikTok users run into naturally anytime they are scrolling through their regular feed or their “For You” page. Because in-feed ads have the same look and feel of organic videos, these ads are able to blend right into the typical user experience without calling attention to themself as advertisements. Additionally, users can interact with in-feed ads in the same way they interact with other videos— with comments, likes, and shares. There are two types of in-feed ads: “Spark Ads” which allow advertisers to boost organic content on Tiktok and “Diversion Ads” which is when advertisers create ads that do not live organically in-feed. In most cases, brands would want to leverage “Spark Ads” to promote Influencer content since it provides an easy way to amplify Influencer content and push out content that already has existing views and engagements.
This in-feed ad from Headspace that popped up on my main feed was a bright, welcoming presence. Once the video ran its course— instead of looping like organic TikToks— that CTA popped up at the bottom to entice me to engage with the advertisement and brand even further and provided a direct link to download the app.
Brand Takeover Ads
Brand takeover ads are the rarest of all the TikTok ads. Instead of attempting to appear as organic videos, they announce themselves as sponsored posts from the moment they pop up on user’s screens. They are between 3-5 seconds long and appear as soon as users open the app. After they’ve played once, brand takeover ads then transform into regular in-feed videos that can be interacted within all of those aforementioned usual ways. Additionally, they also often reappear on the “For You” page as images or videos with links that lead to the brand’s personal TikTok page or another landing page.
The biggest appeal of brand takeover ads is that they have 100% Share of Voice for the entire day they are live. Meaning, they appear on every user’s account at least once on that day and they do not have to compete with any other brand takeover ads.
Top View Ads
Designed in the same vein as brand takeover ads— top view ads also appear as soon as users open TikTok. However, unlike brand takeover ads, top view ads are sponsored videos that appear at the top of your “For You” page by taking the place of the first in-feed post users see when they open the app. Top view ads are full-screen videos with auto-play and sound that can be up to 60 seconds long.
This top view ad from Taco Bell was not only entertaining and original, but it was so naturally crafted that it didn’t announce itself as an advertisement at first glance— a mark of a truly successful TikTok ad.
Branded Hashtag Ads
Also known as “hashtag challenges”, branded hashtag ads are in-feed videos that appear on your main feed and “For You” page that has been published alongside specific accompanying hashtags. Sometimes these hashtags are in line with a current viral trend and other times the hashtags are chosen for their virality potential. Regardless of how you chose your hashtags, the goal with branded hashtag ads is to entice other users to join your growing trend by including the hashtag or hashtags in their own videos. Once a hashtag has been created it can be clicked on from any video, leading the user to a landing page that hosts all of the videos using that same hashtag.
This branded hashtag ad created by Amazon Prime to promote their movie “The Glorias” uses a combination of specific hashtags like #theglorias and #primevideo alongside more generic hashtags like #feminist and #feminism to attract as wide of an audience as possible.
Branded Effects Ads
The most original of all TikTok ads, branded effects ads are an opportunity for brands to tap into their hyper-creative sides in order to create never-before-seen ad experiences. Only available when ads are created directly in your TikTok For Business account, branded effects ads are designed with a combination of customizable filters, stickers, and graphics in order to create an overall effect that TikTok users can then apply to their own videos for up to ten days at a time. Think of branded effects ads as the ultimate user-generated content.
TikTok Advertising Best Practices
- The Gen Z audience that primarily makes up TikTok’s user base is notoriously skeptical of advertisements. To attract that coveted demographic, make ads that are as natural as organic in-feed videos.
- Even though you have up to 60 seconds for most types of TikTok ads, focus on the first 3 seconds of your video. 63% of TikTok ads that showcase a product or messaging within the first 3 seconds have the highest click-through rates.
- Don’t be afraid of getting personal with your audience by speaking directly to them through your advertisements. 33% of the top-performing ads on TikTok break the fourth wall and address users directly.
- The TikTok algorithm rewards trend followers. To increase the lifespan of your ad, include relevant hashtags or soundbites that are trending on the app at the time of your ads publication.
- Create ads that connect with your audience on an emotional level. 50% of the highest performing ads on TikTok strike an emotional chord with users.
- The types of ads you choose to run will depend on your budget and campaign goals. But FYI, 72% of users prefer the top view ad format.
TikTok Advertising Strategies for Influencer Campaigns
Before you dive right into designing ads for your upcoming influencer campaign, there are a few additional strategies that you should keep in mind to optimize your campaign. These strategies are offered as tools through the TikTok For Business platform mentioned above. If you haven’t created your account yet, take this as your sign to do so.
Interest Targeting Vs Behavioral Targeting
Before you publish a TikTok ad, you’ll be presented with two choices for your targeting efforts: interest targeting and behavioral targeting.
Interest targeting is a method used by TikTok to show your ads to TikTok users who have a demonstrated interest in your brand, your industry, or your messaging. All you need to do is select an “interest” that is relevant to your target audience and TikTok will drop your ads in the feeds of users who share your same interest, thereby focusing on attracting an audience of like-minded users.
Behavioral targeting is a more specific form of targeting where TikTok allows you to target specific users based on their behavior on the app within the last week or two weeks. You simply select a “behavior” and a video category that this “behavior” applies to, then once your ad is published TikTok will begin showing your ads to users who exhibit this form of behavior on the platform. Behavioral targeting is a foolproof way to ensure eyes are on your ads because it only shows ads to active users.
Custom Audience Vs Lookalike Audience
Custom and lookalike audiences allow advertisers to reach users who have an existing relationship with your brand (custom audience) or users who are similar to those who have engaged with your brand based on their likes and interests (lookalike audience)
When targeting a custom audience you will be targeting the TikTok users who have interacted with your brand in the past— whether or not that interaction happened on TikTok. All you need to do for customer audience targeting is to provide TikTok with your email list and they will begin showing those users your ads to restoke their interest in your brand.
To amplify your brand reach, you may want to target a lookalike audience. A lookalike audience is exactly how it sounds— think of them as the second tier of your audience, who behaves in a similar fashion to your custom audience, just not as directly with your brand. This targeting method is designed to attract the users whose behavior dances on the outskirts of your brand, getting closer and closer to engaging with every scroll of their feed.
Find “Inspiration” for Your TikTok Ads
As mentioned above, the TikTok algorithm is a powerful tool that is known for rewarding trend followers. An untagged, un-hashtagged, and soundless TikTok video exists in a bubble. On the flip side, when you create videos that speak to the current trends and challenges going viral on the platform you are more likely to reach a wider audience.
To find the viral trends of the moment to include in your TikTok ads and improve both engagement and reach, all you need to do is scroll through your feed and “For You” page (or trust an influencer marketing agency to provide strategy on trending topics). Take note of the hashtags you see the most often, the soundbites that you are constantly hearing as you scroll, and even the moves that the users are doing in their videos. These trends are the most valuable aspect of the platform and are an essential aspect of creating ads that make an impact.
Once you have the seeds for your ad campaign, head on over to the “Inspiration” section of the TikTok site. There you will find a library of successful past TikTok ad campaigns and the process that brands went through to create them. Creating a fruitful TikTok ad campaign is no small feat, by taking the time to find inspiration for your ads you are ensuring that your campaign will be thoughtful.
Influencer marketing on TikTok is a marathon, not a sprint. If you are struggling to create ads that connect with your target audience, you can always tweak your strategy and try again next month. For all the information you need to make a name for your brand on TikTok, check out What Does a TikTok Influencer Campaign Look Like? A Start to Finish Breakdown.