Just a few weeks ago, TikTok was dominating the headlines. But, while we were all wondering whether it was going to be banned, another piece of news about TikTok slid under the radar: the social media video-sharing site had revamped and relaunched its advertising platform.
With industry heavyweights like Google and Facebook soaking up 93% of all online advertising media revenue, the viral video sensation also wanted in on the action. TikTok is perhaps best known for its incredibly popular challenge videos and elaborately choreographed dance routines, and its popularity among Gen Z offers advertisers a direct route to an up-and-coming market segment.
Like any ad platform in its infancy, learning the particular quirks will be uncharted territory to many who know Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Ads like the back of their hand. So, we’ve put together a quick primer for those who want to explore the opportunities and unique advantages TikTok ads have to offer.
Should you Advertise on TikTok?
This can be answered with two criteria: How old is your audience? And what is the scope of your campaign?
We ask these questions because, let’s face it, TikTok is likely your best bet if you want to reach a Gen Z audience. And, the limited targeting (specifically geotargeting) means that using TikTok works best when launching a campaign that encompasses several whole states or, ideally, a nationwide campaign. If you meet these two criteria, then TikTok can be a solid addition to your toolkit.
What TikTok Ad Formats are Available?
As you might expect, the primary TikTok ad format is video. Like Facebook and Twitter, TikTok ads appear natively in-stream. Ads should be in a 1280 x 720 resolution for horizontal orientation, and 720 x 1280 for vertical orientation. If you only have static images, TikTok has a basic “studio” function where it can create video ads out of static images using text overlays and other tools.
Perhaps the biggest differentiator for TikTok ads is the ability to match music tracks with ads natively, without mixing the audio track in as part of a video file. Currently, you can either upload your own music to be used or select from a fairly wide selection of stock music choices. The stock music covers a large variety of genres and moods, so it’s easy to find one that matches your brand and the creative theme of your ad.
All-in-all, the setup and execution process is pretty straightforward if you have prior experience with ad managers on Facebook or LinkedIn. It doesn’t offer as many robust targeting options, and you’re limited to video ads (for now), but if you have content ready to go, it’s simple to get it up and running.
Best Practices for Targeting Gen Z
This is where things get to be a little more…ephemeral. I won’t pretend to be a Gen Z whisperer (full disclosure, I’m a millennial, remember when WE were the cool new market? Good times.) but I can tell you this. One of the key factors for TikTok success is dovetailing in with the content that is most well-received on TikTok. It’s probably in your best interest to be tongue in cheek, a little bit rebellious, and ever so slightly self-deprecating, just to keep your content grounded.
How to Use TikTok Targeting
TikTok is newer to the advertising game than many of its major rivals. As such, it doesn’t have quite the level of sophisticated, granular targeting that Facebook and Google have. One major downside is the strictly limited geotargeting. TikTok ads can only be targeted to whole states (as of right now). While the minimum spend for a TikTok campaign is only $600, having such limited geotargeting makes running a local campaign very difficult.
Age targeting in TikTok does not allow you to specify granular ages like Facebook does. It works as more of a “bracketed” system like Google Ads. One differentiation that TikTok does have is it allows you to target users as young as 13. In terms of interest targeting, TikTok doesn’t have the seemingly limitless options that Facebook does; rather, it groups its interest targeting into broader “categories” such as “pets, beauty, food and drink,” etc. We suspect that TikTok will continue to expand the number of available categories as the ad platform grow but for now the options are somewhat limited. There is also no option to use custom categories at this time.
One area where advertisers do get more creative freedom is the ability to add “tags” to their ads. Think of these as more in line with Google Search keywords that one might use to describe their product or service. A TikTok ad can have up to 20 tags that help classify the product or service being advertised. We recommend sticking to single-word descriptors whenever possible and trying to avoid going beyond 2-3 words as an absolute maximum.
TikTok seems to be a platform that is well-suited to branding and storytelling—not necessarily directly selling a product right out of the gate.
If you’re an established brand looking to target Gen Z, TikTok can be a great way to emphasize your brand attributes that closely align with that audience, such as authenticity, sustainability, progressivism, activism, and technological savviness.
Likewise, if you’re an up-and-coming or just-established brand looking to set a firm foothold with a consumer base that can provide loyalty for generations, TikTok can also be a great way to reach Gen Z early.
TikTok can be a great way, maybe the best way, to target Gen Z audiences. Its limited targeting functionality makes the most sense for campaigns with a broad, ideally national scope. Since TikTok’s revamped platform is relatively new, we can expect its capabilities to grow, evolve, and change, just like the online advertising giants that have come before it.
If you’d like more insight into which digital media channels are right for you, contact us or check out these other articles: