24/10/2020 Matt Horne

5 Things You Need To Know About TikTok Adverts

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Whether Donald Trump likes it or not, TikTok is so hot right now. Everyone is writing about how awesome it is, why you need to be on it (apart from me and why you shouldn’t be on TikTok), and how to “hack” TikTok’s For You algorithm.

Brands are desperate to get their latest on fleek meme in front of TikTok’s Gen Z eye balls. And like many social channels before it, no how many “hacks” you try, it’s really hard work (and a lot of dance moves to remember).

But the great thing about social media channels is in the end they need to monitise, which means you can pay to play. So why bother learning yet more organic reach tactics when you can just throw money at the problem instead?

Well, if you’re thinking about paying to get some exposure to TikTok’s coveted Gen Z audience, here are a five things you need to know about self-serve TikTok advertising right now.

1 – The TikTok Pixel Is Pretty Limited

If you’re used to Facebook’s Pixel, you’re going to be very disappointed with TikTok’s current offering. Think Snapchat v1.0 and then take a few steps backwards.

Not only are you limited to a specific set of pre-defined “conversions” (although these are editable to match your needs as best as possible), you can only track 5 events at one time.

In the words of a TikTok account manager “It’s not perfect at the moment.”

It’s not perfect at the moment.

All things take time to build. TikTok has only been providing self-serve advertising in the UK for about 4 months. They’re ramping up improvements and it’s only a matter of time till they release a new pixel to sedate your creepy data tracking needs.

2 – The Targeting Is Pretty Limited

The TikTok advertising pixel is limited, and so are their targeting options for adverts. Again, comparing it with Facebook (and by proxy Instagram) is like comparing 4k Blu Ray with a black and white TV.

With TikTok you can use some very basic targeting based around:

  • Location (country level for the UK)
  • Age (based on very broad ranges 13-17, 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55+)
  • Gender
  • Interests (very broad pre-defined sets)

And that’s about it.

If you use their pixel there is the ability to create remarketing audiences, but due to the limitations of what the pixel can track at the moment, your remarketing complexity is also limited.

It’s a blunt tool at the moment.

3 – TikTok Adverts Are Pretty Cheap

Like many New Kids On The Block (Jordan Knight being the exception), TikTok is currently super cheap to advertise on through self-serve. Not only that but they’re currently offering bonus advertising credits during COVID-19 for SMEs where they’ll match your investment up to a certain limit.

How cheap? We’re talking CPCs under £0.10 at times.

There’s a reason TikTok is super cheap to advertise on though. When you look at the two points above, and factor in that it’s a new platform with low competition for ad placements, they’re bound to be lower than more established players.

And remember, you get what you pay for. With the poor ROI tracking from the TikTok pixel, it can be hard to see how valuable these clicks are to your bottom line. So pay attention to your bounce rates, session time and sign up sources to make sure the traffic is worth the investment.

This will change though as the platform matures and the pixel tracking improves, targeting improves and competition for ad placements increases.

4 – The Interface Is Not Pretty

Beauty’s skin deep right? Well maybe not in the land of influencers and face filters, but it would seem TikTok’s developers have definitely spent more time on the front of house look than the backstage advertising platform.

A boxy interface on the TikTok reporting page

Hard edges cut my eyes (image source – TikTok Business Help Centre)

This one might just be me, maybe I can’t see the true beauty in harsh corners, blocky dialogue boxes and badly aligned text. But I’m putting it down as a thing to know (mainly because it keeps the theme of “Pretty” though the headers in this blog. Oh what do you mean you hadn’t noticed? Subtle is my style)

5 – Your Advert Creative Needs To Be Pretty

TikTok is a social platform like no other.

Sure it uses short vertical video like Instagram Stories and Snapchat enhanced with filters and effects. But that’s where the similarities end.

@charlidamelio@curtisnewbill dc @tdfw.shot♬ Crisis – Jasiah

And because your TikTok advertising will be interupting the user’s “For You” feed, you need to make sure your ads match the content they’re viewing. You can’t just throw in a static image with loads of text layered over it. Your video needs to pop, make use of key features of the channel and most importantly feature people like you are trying to target.

But that point is the same across all social media advertising. To be successful with social media advertising, you need to make sure your adverts are not an interuption but a welcome addition to the feed. The age of the traditional “Ad Break” from TV land is long gone and we’re now in the world of “Ad Value”.

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    Matt Horne

    Freelance digital marketing and social media consultant dedicated to making your internet awesome.