The power of TikTok cannot be underestimated. Aside from being the procrastination tool of choice for many teens, the app has had a profound impact on culture in the modern world — and companies around the world are trying to get in on the action (and profits) through TikTok marketing.
The social media platform may not be for every brand, especially if your target audience and TikTok user demographics do not overlap. But many companies have found success with their marketing on TikTok — from Chipotle to Crocs and the NFL.
TikTok, since its 2016 launch, has found a way to be the next biggest thing in the world of social media, especially in 2020. In a tough year for many brands. TikTok not only prevailed but it also thrived—being named Ad Age’s No.1 Marketer of the Year. Not only are individuals using it for content creation- but it has sparked a new era of influencers, shopping, and even news updates. TikTok’s increasing growth has made it one of the rivals of Snapchat, Facebook, as well as the new social media for marketers to master. With over 600 million monthly active users worldwide, with 62% of the age between 10-29, which includes Gen Z and younger Millennials, the platform has continued to attract brands looking to reach younger audiences.
Similar to Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat- brands, businesses, and individuals have the opportunity to use TikTok as a means of advertising their business. Companies across the globe have already begun to take these strides in 2020- finding unique ways to show their creative side, show off new collections, and even provide more transparency into their organization. If you’re looking for some help getting started on TikTok we’d love to talk about your goals and how we could help your brand grow!
This blog breaks down our top favorite TikTok ads in 2020 and 2021 and gives you a look into using TikTok advertising. After all, a new year means new ads!
Who is Using TikTok Advertising?
Although influencers like Charli D’Amelio and David Dobrik have taken the TikTok world by storm- companies from all industries have found ways of promoting their brands across the globe. From the newest collections at Paris fashion week to your local pop-up shops- TikTok advertising allows companies of every type an opportunity to show their products. Luxury industries like Burberry, Gucci, and YSL have showcased their luxury in addicting bite-sized bits for us to lust over.
The fast-food industry has taken speed and savings to a new level. Using TikTok advertising, companies like McDonald’s, Chipotle, and Wendys have found unique ways to connect with customers and turn up the cravings around new product launches. Tech companies have also found their way into TikTok advertisements. Apple’s iconic keynote featured a product release of a whole suite of their products- now a quick 30-second clip when you open the Tik Tok app.
We’ve seen a lot of brands and companies find unique ways of honing their voices and product lines during this year- but TikToks have just been the start:
How to Use Tik Tok Ad Manager
Check out these simple steps to get started with your TikTok business account:
- Create your TikTok business account by going to TikTok Business Center. By clicking sign up in the top right-hand corner you can create up to three accounts in their respective time zones.
- Add your users and members through email or send them a link using the feature labeled “Members”. They can have two access points: General Business account and Ad account access. Within these two layers come additional restrictions that can be customized to your team.
- Manage your assets and Tik Tok Formats through the “Ad Account”. You will have to set-up a new Ad account and add your business account information. As a user, you may have to inform your administrator and have them approve your request.
- Create your ads and start engaging your audiences! Once you’re all set, make sure to explore Tik Tok’s community and see how you can leverage various formats to support your growth!
What are the TikTok ad formats?
How exactly do you start advertising on TikTok and which is the best way to do so? TikTok offers a variety of ways to spread the word about your product, brand or service and have users engage with it. We’re breaking down all the ways you can start-
Brand Takeover- an ad is shown on the app launch screen. Prior to landing on your “For You” pages and starting your daily scroll, you’ll be greeted with a short and sweet ad. These will either be a 3-second static image or a 3-5 second video without audio. Given the format, these ads are best suited for awareness campaigns but advertisers should expect to pay premium prices for this spot especially since TikTok will only show one Brand Takeover Ad to a user each day.
TopView ads– The easiest way to think about TopView ads is just as a slightly delayed Brand Takeover Ad. They are 60-second videos designed to target your audience in the most effective way possible. These placements are guaranteed to be the first thing your user sees and will most likely interact with.
In-Feed Ad- similar to ads you’re familiar with on Facebook or Instagram, but they’re a part of your daily “For You” feed. This ad format can run up to 60 seconds of video with sound and blends seamlessly into your scrolling and exploring.
Branded Hashtag Challenge- The TikTok staple that has people trending and using products in more ways than ever. This format encourages user-generated content. Users actively participate in creating themed content that incorporates the branded hashtag. This content is then compiled in a hashtag challenge page and can be viewed by others. This feedback loop has been a great way to create community and build an average engagement rate of 8.5% for this ad format. Tik Tok will even help get you started if you’re interested in launching one for your brand.
Branded Effect- Similar to Instagram filters and Snapchat lenses these visual stickers, filters, and special effects are created for users to engage and use them on their own feed. Branded effects are accessible on the first page of the effects panel for three days at a time and available to search even beyond that time frame.
The wide variety of ad formats allows your brand great creative flexibility and room for experimentation. You should develop a tailored and strong content strategy for your brand, and here are some steps you can take to optimize your advertising content and the outcomes.
1. Niche Up to Identify 3 Types of Audience Segments on TikTok
Obviously, understanding your niche and your target customers is very important for marketing. But when it comes to the content of the ads you will deliver on TikTok, you should start by narrowing your niche up instead of down.
Once you define your ideal customer and the type of content that would drive them to convert, buy your product or services, take it a step further. Identify your middle audience, who are most likely those people you do not have offers for yet. While this may change in the future, at this point your content will be a bit broader than the content you create for your ideal customer who is ready to convert.
And then, take it a step further by targeting and positioning your content towards an even broader audience — your top audience. This could be content from a related field, or it could be personality-based content that appeals to people who do not want to convert right away. The idea is to connect with people in your broader audience and engage them until they are ready to learn more and eventually ready to buy your products or services.
For example, if your target audience is a marketing coach or a course creator, your middle audience might be a content creator in general, and your top audience might be someone looking for a way to turn their passion into a career.
These creative people who are looking for their passion may never become social marketers, so they may never convert and buy your services. But by creating content they can relate to, you increase your chances of finding more of your ideal customers and leveraging TikTok’s extreme growth potential.
Once you have defined your three target audiences, it’s time to experiment with your actual content strategy.
2. Do your competitor research and follow relevant TikTok accounts for inspiration
Make a list of TikTok authors, brands that you can use as role models. If you are wondering how to find TikTok authors to follow, you can use the Discover feed and search for names or keywords and find hashtags or videos with captions related to those keywords.
Two of these creators should be in your niche — perhaps they are trainers, marketers, or service providers in your niche. Essentially, they are creating the same topical content that you would create. The other two creators may be from related or even broader niches. For example, if you are in the fitness niche, you might choose two other fitness coaches and a nutritionist, and a motivational writer.
Other brands have already created powerful and engaging TikTok ads that have significantly increased their visibility on the platform. Let’s have a look at them now.
Top Brand Ad Campaigns of 2020
December is always a month of “Best Of” lists and this year TikTok hopped aboard the trend, highlighting brands and campaigns that inspired them in 2020. One standout snippet from the report: “43% of heavy Tik Tok users feel that the advertising on TikTok seamlessly blends in with the organic content enjoyed on the “For You” feed.” The platform prides itself on their “Don’t make ads, make Tik Toks” ethos, and it’s clearly paying off as the platform is one of the best at ad integration.
~ Bryan Thoensen, Head of Content Partnerships at TikTok
Meaningful connection was more important in 2020 than ever before, and looking back we’ve seen partner brands in nearly every vertical bring our community together through authentic, unforgettable, and inspiring TikTok videos.
Pepsi’s #ThatsWhatILike campaign ushered in a new decade by encouraging consumers to unapologetically do what they enjoy, even in the face of others’ judgment – whether it’s clapping at the end of a movie, wearing an over-the-top costume for the fun of it, or simply enjoying a Pepsi. The campaign resulted in over 13 billion views and expertly played into the TikTok ethos by encouraging a barrage of silly videos that usually included Pepsi in some way. At the core of any good hashtag challenge is free advertising and Pepsi won big on this one.
E.L.F’s viral “Eyes. Lips. Face.” challenge
It’s no secret that Elf Cosmetics has been thriving on TikTok. Elf even made history in 2019 as the first brand to commission an original song specifically for a TikTok campaign. It successfully leveraged a hashtag challenge ad with #eyeslipsface and the brand generated more than a million videos — the most videos of any branded hashtag challenge in history, according to e.l.f.’s agency Movers + Shakers. This was the first hashtag challenge that really, truly took off. By taking a risk and administering the help of a few influencers to kick off the campaign, Elf’s TikTok marketing strategy paid off, with the #eyeslipsface videos reaching a total of 5.2 billion views.
L’Oreal’s #LetsFaceIt campaign aimed to de-stigmatize mask-wearing this summer by reminding us that looking and feeling your most beautiful is never out of style, even while wearing a mask. Given the thriving ecosystem of beauty/makeup in 2
Bagel Bites #BagelBopsContest offered up a chance to win $10,000 for people who made videos featuring an official audio clip the brand commissioned about pizza being the perfect food for anytime of day. The contest encouraged users to “remix”- sing, lip-sync, or dance to the official audio and use the hashtag for a chance to win. The contest drew a total of 3.6 billion views over its 1 month run time.
RyanAir — Riding TikTok Trends With a Lo-Fi Format
This RyanAir ad proves that the brand has turned into the trends, themes, and special humor of the TikTok app.
With a simple green screen filter and a simple text overlay, this ad probably took RyanAir less than a few minutes to create. The company is delighting (and outsmarting) its audience by associating its well-known brand with one of the most casual and well-known TikTok filters. The post feels and looks like an advertisement. It hardly takes itself seriously and conveys a sense of authenticity that earns it the respect of users who may not even realize it’s an ad.
With its direct posts, the company has already gained 564,000 TikTok followers and even sparked discussions and speculations about who is managing the account so skillfully on behalf of the company.
Maybelline – #Maybeli
Maybelline New York is a household name around the world when it comes to makeup. To promote the launch of its new product line in Vietnam, the company decided to launch a branded hashtag challenge using the hashtag #Maybeli. It even shot a music video for the occasion, titled “May Be Li.” The creators created 75,000 videos and reached 19 million users from all over Vietnam. Their video was viewed more than 173 million times and brand preference increased 141.26%. Most importantly, online sales increased by 32.4%.
In addition to having a great organic presence on the platform, Gushers TikTok ads are some of the best. They really take the mantra of “Don’t make ads, make TikToks” to heart. Their first ad featured a boy fishing with Gushers captioned “Worms catch fish… Gushers catch friends?!” made a big splash and blew up their comments section. Users were asking if the video was even an ad because it looked like a post that would be on the “For You” page organically.
Similar to the Pepsi campaign above the Cheetos #DejaTuHuella campaign encouraged users to show the world “what they are fuego ????” at, whether it’s “film, fashion, art, dance, or food.” The campaign surrounded Cheetos’ new product releases focused on their iconic, finger-staining, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. The campaign hashtag translated literally into “leave your mark” or “leave your heat” and was accompanied by a Bad Bunny song right on the tailwinds of him being announced as the most listened to artist of 2020 according to Spotify’s year end Wrapped streaming report. The campaign is still relatively new [as of 12/16] but has 120 million views and growing. Earlier in the year Cheetos also ran the #CantTouchThisChallenge which gave users a creative outlet to showcase their best “Cheetle” covered fingers rendition to the TikTok community.
This is one of the best TikTok ad examples that involve a brand takeover. Their marketing team at Mercedes-Benz knew to get Gen Z’ers and Millenials engaged in a unique way by getting them moved with a unique campaign. To promote their #MBStarChallenge Hashtag Challenge (that included its own branded effect), they released high-quality Brand Takeover ads, along with a mix of In-Feed ads that used user-generated content.
The campaign went viral, resulting in over 185,000 videos by 73,000 users and video views reaching 180 million! Their Brand Takeover CTR was 17.5%. A post-campaign study showed a 66.3% increase in ad recall, an 18.2% boost in brand favorability, and allowed them to gain 30,000 new followers. In both the UK and German campaigns, page views topped 1 million.
Working closely with TikTok, Bumble created an entirely new, always-on acquisition channel with significant scale, using clever TikTok-style direct response ads. The brand also worked with notable Creators, such as David Dobrik and Brittany Broski, to build native video content that seamlessly blended into “For You feeds”. By tapping notable creators with significant organic followings Bumble successfully leaned in to the “Don’t Make Ads, Make TikToks” and served relevant, relatable content to an engaged audience. The campaign is listed as a case study on the TikTok site along with the results of the campaign – 5X increase in App Install Volume along with a 64% decrease in cost-per-registration.
NYX Gloss partnered with TikTok to develop the #ButterGlossPop Branded Hashtag Challenge. This premium branded campaign was specifically designed to have viral impact and inspire content across the platform. The #ButterGlossPop challenge prompted the TikTok community to apply Butter Gloss with their own personal flair to be entered into a sweepstakes for a chance to win $1200 in NYX Makeup. The campaign was a knockout success because of an original, high energy catchy song and clear instructions made it easy for creators to release their creative potential. The campaign resulted in 2M+ user-generated videos and over 11B+ video views along with 42% lift in brand awareness.
In addition, the campaign included an integrated shopping experience that positioned the easily accessible product line directly in front of an engaged and interested audience, inspiring lower funnel action.
Couture fashion brand Balmain usually showcases its latest high-end designs on the runway, but when the local shows were temporarily canceled, the company had to get creative. They decided to showcase Balmain’s latest designs via a TikTok live fashion show. In-feed ads were placed before and during the live stream to promote the show, and they also appeared during the broadcast. It was a unique tactic that definitely paid off.
The sponsored in-feed ads garnered more than 22 million views, as well as tens of thousands of new followers who signed up to be notified when the show began. In the end, 240,000 viewers watched Balmain’s unique TikTok fashion show, which would not have been as successful without an effective in-feed advertising campaign.
ASOS leveraged a Branded Hashtag Challenge Plus for the brilliant #AySauceChallenge. It invited the community to “channel their ASOS vibe” and show off their three best outfits with a series of outfit changes over the course of three weeks in the U.K. and U.S., set to bespoke music and an interactive augmented reality Branded Effect.
The Branded Hashtag Challenge Plus also included a spot on TikTok’s trending hashtags list and a bundle of additional ads—TopView, One Day Max and Brand Premium In-Feed Ads—all of which turbocharged exposure for the campaign and pushed users to the central challenge page, where all UGC entries were housed. ASOS also worked with 28 popular U.K. and U.S. Creators to kick-off the challenge and provide inspiration for users to follow while also building the credibility of ASOS’ brand presence on the platform. Using Creators allowed ASOS to tap into an enormous combined following, paving the way for almost 500k videos created and 1.2B+ video views in just 6 days.
Simmons Mattresses, working collaboratively with agency partners and TikTok, launched the #Snoozzzapalooza Branded Hashtag Challenge, one of TikTok’s premium Branded Solutions that is specifically designed for virality. This Hashtag Challenge encouraged the quarantined community to literally stage dive into a bed over the summer festival season without any live music due to Covid-19.
Simmons partnered with comedians, dancers, athletes, and celebs to cast a huge net and inspire as much of the community as possible to participate. Each of the creators uniquely imagined the challenge, transforming their rooms and creatively using the platform to showcase their vision of the ideal at-home music festival. To drive maximum participation and awareness, Simmons equipped the #Snoozzzapalooza Hashtag Challenge with a fun, upbeat original track that got the community moving.
The campaign resulted in 2M+ videos, amassing six billion total views, and an engagement rate of 20%. The six-day campaign boosted brand engagement through creative participation, raised brand awareness among Gen Z on the platform, and spurred a +107% increase in traffic to Simmons.com week over week.
The beauty of TikTok is the engagement brands can have with their audience. The most successful ad campaigns are generally:
- Authentic and in line with the brand personality
- Highly engaging to users
It’s also important to partner with established TikTok influencers to ensure ads are seen by an established audience. When the different components are combined in the right way, TikTok can drive engagement and sales through the roof!
Overall, we know that everyone has been counting down the days of 2021 and TikTok has been no exception in making this year unique. Brands and companies all over the globe have been able to creatively engage users, create content, and advertise their companies in new ways during this unprecedented year.
TikTok’s various ad types have allowed brands to leverage and target their audiences creating a community like no other and continue to set themselves up for great success. Looking to leverage your social media and content in new ways? Our team of experts is here to help you grow.