TikTok is currently unavoidable, in particular when it comes to targeting Generation Z. At the moment there seems to be no way for advertisers and marketers to bypass this platform. But what is it exactly, and what advertising opportunities does it offer brands and agencies?
TikTok was founded in 2017 after its parent company, Bytedance, took over the $800 million online karaoke platform Musical.ly and merged it with its predecessor, Douyin. It currently has over 680 million monthly users globally and is the fourth most downloaded app globally as of 2018, surpassing Instagram and Snapchat.
The app itself allows users to film videos of themselves lip-synching or acting out comedy sketches up to 15 seconds. Next, the user can choose from a database of songs and visual effects, which include Augmented Reality (AR) filters to further customize their video before publishing it. Thanks to the playful and creative approach of the platform, it’s most popular among young adults aged 16 to 24. Because of the large numbers of users who can otherwise be difficult to reach, brands and agencies should not ignore TikTok when it comes to advertising strategies.
What are the options for TikTok advertising?
Currently, TikTok’s commercial platform is only available in beta mode for select brands. However, the self-serve ads will be accessible to all shortly. When this happens, brands will have six options from which to choose:
In-feed Native Video
Branded Lenses / Effect
As a user, you can launch a ‘hashtag challenge.’ You do so by creating a video, choosing a song to accompany that video, and then challenging users to add their own individual touch to the most popular hashtag challenges by recording themselves dancing to popular songs and editing their videos, often to hilarious effect.
Brands can also offer their own hashtag challenges, but if they choose to offer an organic one, they run the risk of it not going viral. Thus, the app offers brands the option to sponsor their challenges. This means that the brand’s challenge is placed on the discovery page for six days, providing the opportunity for maximum reach and engagement.
A brand takeover is a full-screen ad displayed when the user first opens TikTok. It’s either a three-second image or a three-to-five second GIF. The ad can be linked to a brand’s landing page or a Hashtag Challenge within TikTok. These takeovers are exclusive to different categories each day — so only one specific brand can take over a category each day. By using full-screen mode, the brand draws the user’s attention. So. this format is perfect for maximum exposure and reach.
In-feed Native Video
Much like Instagram, users can browse content on the platform and see what other people are posting. In-feed video advertising consists of native videos which appear while users explore posted content. This type of video is up to 15 seconds long, full screen, and can also have a musical background.
This type of advertising is ideal to gain exposure and call users to action since there is a CTA section you can use to redirect people toward a specific website or hashtag challenge.
Top view is a brand new video-based ad format that presents the brand when the app opens, thereby reaching a wider audience. Top view has the same effect as a Brand Takeover, with the difference that videos such as in-feed video can be used as advertising material. First global tests yield better results and could significantly increase video views and engagement.
From creative face filters to animated objects, users can radically change their environment with their smartphones. TikTok offers the possibility to create and use 2D, 3D, and Augmented Reality (AR) on the platform.
With Branded Lenses, users can interact with the brand and play with it by using their filter. The lenses promote the consideration to buy and allow users to test products. By integrating Branded Lenses into a hashtag challenge, a stronger bond to your brand and products can be forged.
Similar to Instagram, there are also TikTok influencers with a huge number of followers. These influencers create content in their own personal style to inspire their fans. Thus, much like Instagram, there’s an opportunity for brands to partner with an influencer to gain exposure. The trick is choosing the right influencer to reach the target demographic that matches your brand. However, in select locations, you need to organize influencer partnerships via the app itself.
Why should brands use TikTok?
TikTok is a great application to reach Gen Z. The ad formats are similar to other social media platforms. Therefore, marketers are not delving into uncharted territory. No one mentioned technique is better than another; instead, a combination of multiple will give you the most results. From creating a challenge to partnering with influencers, the platform has multiple opportunities for brands looking to connect with the next generation.
Max Israel is a Paid Media Consultant at Dept.