TikTok video ads: more than a passing trend

TikTok is a social network on a mighty rise, especially among younger audiences. Find out more about TikTok Video Ads’ formats and the 8 best practices for creating them.

Marketing Team
Video Marketing TikTok video ads: more than a passing trend

What was the most downloaded smartphone app in 2022?  TikTok, which surpassed Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp. 

But what about 2021?  The answer is still the same: TikTok. Again surpassing Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp, and not by a small margin. (forbes.com).

These figures alone would be enough to understand how much this social network, born in late 2016, is increasingly taking center stage, and how crucial it is—for marketers and companies of almost all industries and sizes—to focus on TikTok video ads.

Before we focus on format types and best practices for producing TikTok video ads, let’s look at some statistics that perfectly tell the story of the importance of this social network that is all about creating and sharing video content

The importance of TikTok by the numbers  

As promised, here are some statistics, which need no comment.

  • It is not easy to pinpoint an exact number, but according to the most recent estimates, TikTok has now surpassed 1 billion monthly active users. (newsroom.tiktok.com). 
  • Moreover, about one-third of these users use the TikTok app every day. (sensortower.com) 

Who are TikTok users?

Let’s start with the most significant data: TikTok is most loved and used by the young and very young: 

  • 38.9% of users are between 18 and 24 years old 
  • 32.4% are between 25 and 34 years old
  • 54.1% of the audience is female, while 45.9% is male (datareportal.com).
  • In the United States, the Generation Z population uses TikTok more frequently than Instagram. (insiderintelligence.com).

In short, all of these statistics are very clear and all extremely eloquent. 


TikTok for marketing 

Now, let’s shift the focus to marketing with some statistics to watch out for!

  • Surprisingly, only 18% of marketers say they are leveraging TikTok in their strategies (statista.com).

In short, this growing trend has not been taken advantage of in the most effective way. In other words: there are huge opportunities to be exploited, especially considering the potential target audience that is extremely attractive to brands, but these opportunities are simultaneously some of the most difficult to intercept and retain. 

  •  In any case, revenue from TikTok video ads grew by an estimated 26% year-over-year at the end of 2022 (statista.com).
  • We’re not at all surprised by this figure. Just think of the engagement this platform is able to generate, which is much broader and deeper than that by other social networks.

 Again, it’s the data that says it: the average content engagement rate on TikTok is around 4.25%. That’s the highest of all the social networks. Second place? Instagram, but here, the average engagement rate stops at 0.60%.

  • From engagement to effectiveness in the consideration and conversion stages: 55% of TikTok users bought something after seeing a brand’s content on the platform. 

And, even more specifically, 50% of users bought something after seeing a live TikTok. 

This shows how so-called “live shopping” is a solid and steadily growing trend to focus on.


TikTok video ads – the main formats 

As the numbers show, the importance of TikTok video ads and, more importantly, the wide margins it offers, still remain for marketers to exploit. Before moving on to the best practices for producing this content, let’s quickly dwell on the main formats that the platform offers.

In-feed ads

This is the standard and most popular format of TikTok video ads. In this mode, the ad is embedded in each user’s feed (For You feed). It plays automatically and allows people to add reactions and comments and to share and follow.

 Calls to action of any kind can be added, which also lead to landing pages outside the platform.

Top View ads

This type of TikTok video ad appears at the top of users’ For You feed. In this case, the videos can be longer in duration (the optimum is around 60 seconds). The Top View ad format is perfect for growing the number of impressions: consequently, it’s most useful when brand awareness is the goal of your campaign.

Brand Takeover ads

This is another format that relies on full-screen content that – in this case – can be static or dynamic (the optimal length is between 3 and 5 seconds). This is non-skippable content; therefore, again, it’s perfect for increasing the number of impressions and, simultaneously, brand awareness.

Branded Hashtag Challenge

This is somewhere between branded content and User Generated Content, and the disruptive power of this format lies in its impression of immediacy and naturalness. The return can potentially be enormous in terms of engagement and potential for going viral.

TikTok video ads – best practices

Following the data on the importance and growth of TikTok and the analysis of different formats, here we will dig into the best practices for producing the most effective TikTok video ads

We isolate them around 8 key points: 

1) Make the most of the vertical format – and place important elements in the center

TikTok is the realm of the vertical format. Other types of formats may not be accepted by the platform or, if so, may be penalized graphically. 

So far, these are obvious aspects. Beware, however, of another side: it’s a good rule of thumb to place the decisive elements—visuals, branding and, especially calls-to-action—in the center of the video. In fact, the platform tends to obscure the outer edges of the frame.

2) Be brief, or very brief 

Another well-known fact: much of TikTok’s success comes from the lightning-fast and engaging brevity of its video content. 

The ideal length is between 9 and 15 seconds. For brand takeover ads, the recommended length is even shorter (as we saw above).

On the other hand, for Top View ads you can use somewhat more relaxed times (and rhythms)…of course, without overdoing it to avoid losing attention. This brings us directly to the next point. 

3) Start with a strong and immediate hook. 

When it comes to social media marketing, the fight for attention is critical, and this is a struggle that is becoming increasingly complex. It’s all the more so on a platform like TikTok all based on swipe and scroll.

Therefore, it’s a matter of having your video start with a hook that is capable of connecting the user to the vision: something that immediately stimulates curiosity, suspense, questions the user and — when it makes sense — knows how to provoke him. 

And all without distorting one’s brand identity and campaign goals, in terms of perception. It’s a delicate and decisive balance

4) Audio is crucial

Why is it important to take such care of the sound and music aspect in your TikTok video ads? Let the data tell us. Of all the videos on TikTok, 93% of the top-performing videos use sound. According to 88% of users, sound is a key part of the TikTok experience. 

5) Captioning is also important

In addition to catering to the (admittedly minority) segment of the audience that views videos without audio, including captioning is still very important in terms of making a message memorable

Again, it’s crucial to include captions from the very first seconds of the video, in fact, they can serve as interesting hooks!

Also, pay attention to the consistency and recognizability of graphics, as this relates to your brand identity.

6) The right call to action 

The question is simple: what is the right call to action for TikTok video ads? The answer, however, is not simple, nor is it unique.  

It all depends on the goals of the campaign and your target audience (we will return to this in the next point). So, there is no universal recipe.

The rule that applies to all, however, is that of consistency. The moment of the call to action should be perceived not as an interruption but as a natural culmination of the video’s storytelling, however lightning fast.

7) Lean on influencers…even micro ones 

On average, influencer marketing records an ROI of $6.50 for every dollar spent (adweek.com). Beware, however: mega-influencers are now perceived by the public as distant and unreachable. Here, the closeness to the audience that underlies the very concept of influencer marketing is lacking. 

A good idea, especially on TikTok, is to rely on micro- and nano-influencers, who are perceived as more spontaneous, less distant, reliable, and therefore those who have a fan base that, while more limited, is almost always more devoted and loyal.

The keyword, in this sense, is authenticity

8) Be data driven 

Here we come to the final point in our list of best practices and one that is absolutely decisive. First and foremost, being data-driven means gaining in-depth knowledge of your audience and breaking down your target audience into increasingly circumscribed segments to be hit with increasingly tailored video campaigns. It also means analyzing the results of your TikTok video ads to understand what worked and what didn’t, continually recalibrating your strategy.

Digital marketing, in all its forms, is always about triggering a continuous improvement mechanism. An aspect that must never be forgotten!

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