Advertising on TikTok: What Every Marketer Needs to Know

Cut through the noise and reach your audience effectively with TikTok's Ad offerings

Looking for a creative way to cut through the noise and appeal to a younger demographic in South East Asia? You might want to consider advertising on TikTok.

The world’s leading destination for short-form mobile videos is not only the most downloaded app in SEA but also the world. With almost half of SEA’s population using it, TikTok provides a powerful platform for marketers to reach a massive community of people who value authenticity and spontaneity. 

authenticity gif

It’s hardly surprising, therefore, to see Gov.sg (the official communication arm of the Singapore Government), Malaysia’s former prime minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, or the Indonesian Communications and Information Ministry take to TikTok to reach younger audiences. For the same reason, we brought on Singapore’s NUS Business School to TikTok as well. 

TikTok page

With its new ad platform, TikTok now provides brands and marketers in SEA a great opportunity to reach audiences in a fun, spontaneous way – as well as generate leads. This guide will give you a rundown of: 

  • Different ad types
  • How each ad type works
  • The cost of advertising on TikTok
  • How targeting works on TikTok
  • And everything else you might need to know about advertising on TikTok

TikTok’s Growing Popularity in South East Asia

So, what’s the real reason behind TikTok’s massive popularity? It’s simple. TikTok doesn’t play by the rules - it disrupts them. In the world of social media, where success is largely dependent on how well you can paint a picture that sells your story, TikTok defies that formula.

Perhaps the only social media platform that truly democratizes the art of content creation, it provides users with a home for creative expression. A place where authenticity and creativity greatly outshine filters and Photoshop retouches. 

Funny TikTok video

You don’t need to have millions of followers to make it to the For You page. Anyone and everyone can become an overnight sensation on the platform - there’s no saying which video may go viral or which may not. 

From artists to teachers, good dancers to bad dancers, comedians to pranksters - just about anyone can shoot to fame while capturing an authentic moment in their lives. As long as the content is fun, creative, and spontaneous, it’s sure to find an audience on TikTok. 

This raw, unfiltered, “less is more” appeal is what makes this platform so incredibly popular in SEA and the rest of the world.

Why Should You Advertise on TikTok?

With over 300 million downloads in SEA, TikTok provides marketers access to a large mobile community with substantial purchasing power. By leveraging TikTok ads, you can reach this ever-growing community of people and generate more leads for your business. 

TikTok’s Ads Manager can not only help you advertise on TikTok but also access its family of apps like Babe, BuzzVideo, TopBuzz, and NewsRepublic. These are focused on verticals like content discovery, news, and entertainment. This makes it easier for you to find and reach out to the most relevant audience for your product or brand. 

From tech to fashion, food to sports, education to beauty, and finance to B2B - brands in every industry can find an audience on TikTok. What’s more? People love to discover new and innovative products on the platform. Research shows that 61% of its users tend to buy brands that they see advertised. You can help them discover innovative products using ads when they navigate video content on the platform.

TikTok demographic information

Image via GWI

TikTok’s Ad Offerings for Marketers and Brands

Now that we’ve seen why advertising on TikTok can be incredibly beneficial for businesses, let’s explore the various types of ads it offers. 

1. Brand Takeover

This type of ad takes over the full screen for a few seconds as soon as you open the app and helps to amplify your brand message. You can choose to display an image for 3 seconds or a sound-off gif/video for 3-5 seconds. While they can be skipped, they’re clickable and can be used to direct users to a landing page or even a Hashtag Challenge.

TikTok video from Vans

Image via TikTok

Brand Takeover ads are best suited for prospects in the awareness stage of the marketing funnel. They’re great at capturing people’s attention and are a great choice for promoting your products, events, or offers. Besides, TikTok ensures that users don’t see more than one such ad in a day so they can be very effective. 

However, Brand Takeover ads may not be an ideal choice if you’re just starting out since they can be quite expensive. They’re better suited for bigger brands with substantial ad budgets. 

2. TopView

This type of ad builds on Brand Takeover ads but with a few significant differences. It doesn’t appear immediately on opening the app. Instead, it appears as the first in-feed video at the top of your For You feed after the first 3 seconds.

Topview TikTok Ads

Image via TikTok

TopView ads are 5-60 seconds long with mandatory sound and auto-play. They can be skipped and used to direct users to internal or external landing pages. Best suited for prospects in the awareness stage of the marketing funnel, TopView ads are great at driving user engagement in the form of likes, comments, shares, etc. 

3. In-Feed Ads

As you scroll through your For You feed, this type of ad appears as videos in between other organic videos posted by TikTok users. It offers multiple clickable elements and can be used to drive conversions or engagement on both internal and external landing pages. 

In-Feed TikTok Ads

Image via TikTok

In-feed ads are suitable for prospects at every stage of the marketing funnel. You can use the CTA feature to drive app downloads, purchases, and website visits. They can be full-screen, up to 60 seconds long with sound and auto-play. Users can like, comment, share these videos, follow your business account, and even create videos with your soundtrack. 

4. Branded Hashtag Challenge

Hashtag marketing is growing in popularity. These ads appear on the Discovery page and encourage users to create content (in line with a brand’s guidelines) and post them with certain brand-specific hashtags. When someone clicks on the hashtag, they will be taken to an internal landing page that showcases your logo, website link, description of the challenge, and popular user-generated videos using the hashtag. 

Branded TikTok Ads

Image via Later

Branded hashtag challenges are a great way to drive awareness and engagement by creating a viral moment for your brand. They can result in a huge amount of user-generated content and generate millions of views around your campaign initiatives. They allow you to make TikTok users your unofficial brand ambassadors by engaging the community authentically. 

The Hashtag Challenge Plus variant also includes options to drive purchases, share store locations, or survey users. 

5. Branded Effect

TikTok also offers AR filters, custom stickers, lenses, and other 2D/3D effects to help brands create their own custom effect or filters on the app. Every Branded Effect can be available for up to 10 days and are a great way to generate more brand-related conversations with users.

Branded TikTok Ads

Image via TikTok

Costs of Advertising on TikTok

As for the costs, TikTok allows you to set up a daily budget or a lifetime budget for your ad campaigns. You can change these at any time during the campaign. Currently, the minimum campaign budget for in-feed ads is $50 and the minimum ad group budget is $20. 

However, experts report that for these ads to be truly effective, you need to set a minimum budget of $500 at the campaign level and $50 at the ad group level. Digiday also reports that even though CPM can go as low as $1, the CTR is quite low. So, driving conversions can be expensive on TikTok.

In addition, you’ll need to set up your bidding plan - how much you’re willing to pay for any actions that you want users to take upon interacting with your ads. For more information on bidding strategies, you can refer to TikTok’s bidding guide

To give you a bit more perspective, Online Marketing Vogg was able to generate over 1.3 million impressions and 7700 clicks for a little over €500 ($590) from a TikTok ad campaign. For another campaign which was a bit more niche, they got over 700,000 impressions and 7000 clicks for €1100 ($1300). 

So, how do the costs and results of advertising on TikTok compare with other platforms? A study by JungleTopp Media found that TikTok ad campaigns generated 235% greater impressions than Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns at $11,000 lower the cost. TikTok ads also generated 155% more clicks at 36% lower cost. 

So, it might definitely be worth your while to try out TikTok ads and see how they perform for your brand.

How Ad Targeting on TikTok Works

TikTok offers powerful targeting capabilities that can help you reach relevant audiences who are most likely to convert. You can target audiences based on their location, gender, age, interests, behavior, and other parameters. 

TikTok targeting capabilities

Image via Hootsuite

Interest targeting is powered by TikTok's proprietary Machine Learning algorithm that analyzes user interactions to provide real-time predictions. The algorithm analyzes past behavior and other key indicators to assign interest categories to users such as industry, products, or services. 

So, if you’re a fashion brand, you could target users in their teens, 20s, or 30s (depending on the age group you cater to) who view fashion-related content or follow popular designers and/or fashion influencers on TikTok. If you were advertising a financial investment software, you could target users in their 30s and 40s who have shown interest in the stock market and finance.

In contrast, behavior targeting does not rely on predictions. This is strictly based on user behavior in the past 7-15 days such as in-app views and interactions with favored creators. 

TikTok reporting options

Image via TikTok

Reporting and Measurement

TikTok offers robust built-in reporting capabilities that allow you to see how your campaigns perform in real-time. 

TikTok reporting and measurement

Image via TikTok

It offers a comprehensive range of metrics you can choose from including CPC, CPM, Conversions, CVR, CTR, and Clicks, to name a few. You can also use the TikTok Pixel to track user behavior on your website and monitor the performance of your ads. 

Reporting and measurement view

Image via Hootsuite

The TikTok Ads Manager has a number of similarities with the Facebook Ads Manager along with a few notable differences. For example, both offer features like custom and lookalike audiences, interest targeting, and the use of URL parameters for measurement of performance. 

So, if you have used the Facebook Ads Manager before, much of the TikTok Ads Manager features should be self-explanatory. However, unlike Facebook, TikTok allows you to select your Target URL on the Ad Set level, specify Ad Tags and Ad Category, deactivate user comments, and modify ad text and CTA. 

Even though Facebook leads in the targeting and analytics department (due to the millions of data points it has gathered over the years), the platform is over-saturated right now. TikTok is still relatively new and so the competition isn’t as intense. So, it might be cheaper and easier to reach your audiences with TikTok ads. 

Also, TikTok’s unique algorithm ensures that the more time users spend on the app, the better it understands their interests and behaviors. This allows it to make better predictions so that your ads are shown to a relevant audience and increases your conversions.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have a better understanding of TikTok’s ad offerings for brands and marketers in SEA, it’s time to create an effective TikTok marketing strategy for your business. A good place to start would be to think about the goals that you want to accomplish and the needs of your ideal buyer personas. 

Every marketing campaign needs a considerable investment of time and resources for it to be successful. And if you’re new to TikTok, it would include a bit of a learning curve as well. However, if it seems too overwhelming or challenging to manage on your own, collaborating with digital advertising agencies can prove to be very useful.

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