How Effective Is TikTok as an Advertising Platform?

How Effective Is TikTok as an Advertising Platform?

TikTok

By Tim Colucci, Taylor Hart, and Bella Schneider 

TikTok is an advertising juggernaut. The app doubled its ad revenues in 2022 according to an industry estimate. Rivals such as YouTube were directly affected. And TikTok continues to roll out new capabilities that appeal to businesses, such as livestream commerce. This is all the more remarkable considering the fact that TikTok has been operating under the threat of being banned in the United States for the past few years.

But just how effective is TikTok as an ad platform? Our own experiences working with TikTok have seen mixed results.

Inconsistent Performance with Conversions

TikTok has both impressed and disappointed us when it comes to conversions such as app downloads, purchases, and leads. On the positive side, one of our clients running social ads increased ROI on TikTok by over 18% in Q3 compared to Q1.

In Q3 on TikTok, we launched conversion campaigns (as well as upper-funnel) for this client, which definitely affected the increase in ROI because in Q1 we only were running upper-funnel campaigns on TikTok.

But when we look at results for other clients – specifically for lead-generation-based mobile app campaigns — we have seen disappointing conversion numbers. For those clients, the cost per conversion on TikTok is higher than on other apps. Why? Probably because TikTok compels users to stay on the app and scroll continuously through a stream of content – as any TikTok user can attest. Taking the time to disengage from TikTok to download an app or to make a purchase is counterintuitive to how TikTok operates.

TikTok does offer tools for advertisers to drive conversions, such as an instant lead form, which creates a customized lead generation form with a call to action. As a result, the user need not leave the app to fill out a lead form. We have seen some success using the instant lead form, but nowhere near the conversion rates we’ve experienced on Facebook and Google. As a result, the cost per lead for TikTok is much higher than for Facebook and Google for lead-generation-based mobile app campaigns.

Awkward App Optimization Feature

Apps such as Facebook and TikTok offer features that make it possible for businesses to optimize multiple app campaigns based on different audiences, creative assets, and objectives. These are known as app event optimization (AEO). With AEO, a business can ensure that multiple campaigns are not competing with each other as they maximize their performance. We found that TikTok’s AEO feature is less effective than Facebook’s. For example, on Facebook, a business can optimize for both web and app campaigns together a lot more effectively than on TikTok. In at least one case, we found that multiple TikTok campaigns for the same brand were competing with each other, but fortunately our own team caught the issue early on and adapted our strategy.

Advice for Brands

  • Monitor your TikTok performance closely. As noted above, conversions can differ by type of campaign (in our case, social ads versus lead-generation-based mobile app campaigns). TikTok is still evolving as an ad platform, and TikTok ad accounts require more maintenance and proactive communication with the TikTok ad team. Keep on top of your performance and be ready to shift gears quickly as we have done.
  • Consider TikTok for brand awareness, but the jury is still out when it comes to conversions. Our campaigns have performed especially well when our objectives have been to achieve reach and brand lift. In our experience, TikTok CPMs are typically less expensive than CPMs for Facebook, Snap, or Pinterest.
  • Watch for new tools. TikTok will continue to roll out new tools to maximize its value, including more livestreaming features. Be alert for them and decide which ones are a possible fit for your brand – but treat them as experimental.
  • Consider the big picture. The conversation about TikTok as an ad platform could become moot if the app is banned in the United States owing to ongoing concerns about the app posing a security and privacy threat. Advertisers are staying true to TikTok as the app’s parent company ByteDance negotiates an agreement with the U.S. government. Could TikTok get sold? That’s a real possibility. Watch developments and be ready to adapt.

Contact True Interactive

At True Interactive, we work with our clients to maximize the value of all their online advertising, including social media spend. We strongly advocate for our clients as we work with apps such as TikTok. Contact us to learn how we can help you.

Holiday Ads 2022: Whimsy and Imagination

Holiday Ads 2022: Whimsy and Imagination

Advertising

In 2022, concerns about a looming recession prompted some brands to lean into sales and savings in their holiday ad campaigns. But, perhaps emboldened by the National Retail Federation’s forecast for holiday sales growth somewhere in the six to eight percent range over the 2021 season (lower than last year’s record leap, admittedly, but growth nonetheless), other advertisers have chosen a different path. For some brands at least, whimsy, humor, and imagination have emerged front and center in holiday campaigns. Let’s take a closer look at a few examples:

Speaking Your Pet’s Language

A fun spot from pet care brand Chewy underscores the humorous ways in which animals and humans try to communicate across the language barrier. The premise: just as we don’t always understand what that meow or bark might mean, our animal friends may be in a similar pickle as they try to make sense of the goofy matching pajamas and ugly sweaters we humans crack out at the holidays. But as the ad, accessible via social and the Chewy’s website/mobile app, points out, Chewy pet products help us speak a common language, one that our pets absolutely appreciate!

 

Kids’ Imaginations Power the Magic

Kids were the creative force behind a Lego ad featuring Katy Perry and a fantastical present-delivery vehicle made of Lego bricks. The film, which casts children from around the world, airs in a three-minute version on Lego.com, as well as on Perry’s social channels (shorter versions appear on TV and OLV channels). Before shooting the main film, the brand gave the kids boxes of Lego bricks and encouraged them to come up with their version of a perfect present delivery machine. Based on the kids’ ideas, Lego then built the vehicle and surprised the children with it; the kids’ reactions when they see the colorful, magical mashup (a fairytale castle is incorporated into the vehicle, as is a space shuttle, even a slide!) are completely genuine. Lego’s holiday ad campaign also incorporates videos of children interviewing Perry, and an online Lego Gift Finder helps consumers find the products that inspired the kids in the film.

 

Less Spend, More Tacos

When Taco Bell made its first TV ad for the U.K. market, it took an innovative approach. The brand paired up with YouTube creator AnOnymooose, who put together a 30-second ad that aired on television . . . exactly once. The spot also ran on social media, but the money Taco Bell saved with its streamlined run was then diverted into a taco giveaway on December 13: while supplies lasted, anyone in the U.K. could claim their own free Crunchy Taco at any U.K. Taco Bell. The humorous animated spot, in which restaurant reviewer Santa becomes nonplussed by a persistent, taco-loving swan, represents a fresh way to reward customers and have some fun working with an animator. (Fun fact: AnOnymooose enjoys 1.12 million subscribers and no one has seen them in real life!)

 

A New Kind of Yule Log

Resisting the idea of cranberry sauce as being a Thanksgiving-only treat, Ocean Spray has come up with its own take on the popular looping yule log video. In Ocean Spray’s version, three jiggling Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce logs enjoy a crackling fire while whimsically vocalizing. What does a cranberry sauce log say, you ask? Why, “jiggle” and “wiggle,” of course! The 10-hour-long feel-good video runs on Ocean Spray’s YouTube channel and as paid pre-roll placements.

 

Contact True Interactive

Looking to make your mark using digital? We can help you navigate holiday campaigns, and we can help all year long! Contact us.

Twitter Adds More Location-Based Marketing Features

Twitter Adds More Location-Based Marketing Features

Twitter

Twitter is making itself more appealing to businesses such as retailers and restaurants that operate physical locations. That’s because Twitter recently made it possible for businesses to update their profiles location, hours, and additional contact methods that make businesses more findable. This change may mean Twitter is trying to become a better destination for consumers looking for things to buy, whether they do so online or visit a physical location.

What Twitter Announced, and What Businesses Should Do

Twitter announced that professional accounts (which are designated for businesses, brands, creators, and publishers) may capitalize on a new Location Spotlight feature. Location Spotlight allows a professional account to display their location, hours of operation, and additional contact methods. Features of Location Spotlight include:

  • Business location: this is listed and shown on a small map in the profile spotlight. People can tap on the location map/listing to open Google Maps, or their default map app, for easier navigation to the business’s space.
  • Hours of operation: this field is optional but can be customized to showcase the days and times businesses want people to visit their location.
  • Methods of contact information: when the contact button in the spotlight is enabled, it can kick off one or more of the following directly to the business: phone call, text message, direct message, or email.

This news demonstrates Twitter’s intent to capitalize on the rise of location-based marketing which uses both paid and organic content to generate business at the local level. (This post and this post contain more detail defining the concept.)  Twitter’s ad products include geo-targeting by location, and the company has launched shopping options that make it easier for people to buy from businesses through Twitter, which is a boon especially for retailers (including those that operate local storefronts).

Twitter also offers to qualifying professional accounts a feature known as Shop Spotlight. This is a dedicated space to showcase products at the top of a Professional Account where businesses can showcase their products. When this spotlight is enabled, potential customers can scroll through the carousel of products and tap through on a single product to learn more and purchase – in an in-app browser, without having to leave Twitter.

The launch of new content features can mean that a platform is priming the pump for more advertising products, and this is probably the case with Twitter especially as Amazon Ads expands into local advertising. Online commerce is a trillion dollar industry, and digital platforms such as Twitter, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok want to capture more revenue from this booming market. Location-based marketing is one way of doing so – while integrating with offline commerce, too.

We recommend businesses activate this feature if it applies to you. Twitter explains how to do so here. We also recommend that businesses with physical locations watch for an uptick in ad services from Twitter, as the company seeks to find more sources of ad revenue from businesses with multiple locations. We will do all the monitoring for our clients at True Interactive!

Contact True Interactive

To maximize the value of your social media advertising, contact True Interactive. Our expertise in this area delivers measurable value to our clients.

Lead image source: https://unsplash.com/@alexbemore

 

Why Twitter Launched Twitter Shops

Why Twitter Launched Twitter Shops

Twitter

Twitter gets it. Brands want to drive sales. And shoppers are more motivated to buy if the process is a positive one. Enter Twitter Shops, the platform’s latest bid to foam the runway for consumer purchases. The feature, which ups the number of products brands can display at the top of their profiles, also aims to make the buying transaction even more seamless.

What Is Twitter Shops?

Twitter wants to support businesses; it also aspires to be consumer-friendly. Twitter Shops, which allows brands to display 50 shoppable products, is meant to check both those boxes. Shoppers need only click on “View shop” to scroll through the items a brand has uploaded, then click on a product to open an in-app browser and wrap up their purchase on the brand’s website. Easy!

The new feature is part of a concerted effort Twitter has been making to make shopping on the platform that much friendlier. Shop Module, announced last year, allowed businesses to display up to five products on their profile. Twitter Shops builds off that development. And notably, Twitter will not be taking a cut of revenue from purchases made on Shops.

Bruce Falck, revenue product lead at Twitter, puts it this way: “We know that shoppers come to Twitter to interact with brands and have conversations about products . . . Our growing shopping ecosystem is designed to leverage the power of that shopping conversation and create a pathway for people to go from talking about and discovering products to browsing and purchasing them.”

Why Did Twitter Launch Twitter Shops?

As Falck notes above, Twitter wants to bolster its social commerce functionality. It’s a smart move. As we’ve blogged, social shopping accelerated in popularity during the pandemic, and it’s showing no sign of slowing down. Social media has evolved along with this trend, morphing to meet the needs of users inspired by what they find online. That’s a growing demographic: as Retail Dive points out, a jaw-dropping 87 percent of Gen Z will be looking to social media for shopping inspiration.

Of course, Twitter isn’t the only platform to see the writing on the wall. They have competition: Meta (Facebook and Instagram) and TikTok have also made inroads with social shopping. As we’ve blogged, Facebook’s Shops in Groups is intended to “make shopping and buying better on our apps.” Meanwhile, TikTok has partnered up with Shopify to make it easy for TikTok users to shop directly in the TikTok app.

What Brands Should Do

What do these developments mean? We recommend that you:

  • Understand your audience. Are you reaching out to a demographic that works and plays on platforms like Twitter? The answer to that question will help you decide if it makes sense to lean into a feature like Twitter Shops.
  • Learn how to use the tools available to you. Every platform has its own requirements for creating content. Moreover, working confidently on these popular sites demands a strong grasp of how to use visuals. If you are going down this path, you must know how to create powerful, effective imagery.
  • Make sure you are ready to handle the demand. As we’ve blogged, some brands have struggled to keep up with the surge in demand that happens when more shoppers are inspired to buy. Online fulfillment must be up to handling an uptick in sales.
  • Keep an eye on the competition. How are your direct competitors leveraging digital to build bridges with consumers? What can you learn from their strategies?
  • Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Balance an online presence between the major platforms that offer value in advertising—and shoppability.

Contact True Interactive

Eager to explore how platforms like Twitter can elevate your marketing plan? Contact us. We can help.

Why TikTok Is the Most Visited Site in the World

Why TikTok Is the Most Visited Site in the World

TikTok

Cloud-infrastructure company Cloudflare has been tabulating the world’s most-visited sites since 2020, creating its rankings by following global internet traffic patterns like app usage or when a person visits a site on their web browser. While Google held the crown for most-visited site that first year, it was a short reign: in 2021, TikTok took the throne. What does TikTok’s great leap forward mean for your brand?

The News: TikTok Is King

According to Cloudflare, TikTok didn’t waste any time gaining traction: by February 2021, the platform had already started racking up massive views. And from August on, it consistently ranked Number One, every month, for the rest of the year. That alone is a feat, one that gains even more resonance when you consider that back in 2020, TikTok ranked a respectable — if relatively humble — Number 7.

Why TikTok Rules

To what can we attribute TikTok’s ascendance? A few factors play a role. For one thing, TikTok has helped inform a global interest in short-form video. Short-form videos have been around for a while, of course, but it is arguably TikTok that has made it easy for users to create, enrich, and share videos. And the platform’s user base is diverse: while the site attracts would-be creators, it also appeals to everyday people who find the clips both informative and just . . . fun. Video is hot, and TikTok has helped make it that way. TikTok also has a superpower in its hip pocket: it’s insanely viral. Remember Nathan Apodaca, the skateboarder whose TikTok clip incorporating Ocean Spray juice, his deck, and the Fleetwood Mac tune “Dreams” catapulted him to fame? Apodaca and the way his creative efforts went viral underline just how influential TikTok can be. And brands have taken note. Consider Pepsi’s #ThatsWhatILike TikTok campaign, which inspired people to post videos of silly, fun moments that usually featured Pepsi in some fashion. The hashtag challenge encouraged fans to engage with the brand in a likable, playful way—and it placed that likable persona squarely in front of a huge audience. The campaign netted more than 13 billion views. Finally, TikTok is especially favored by the Millennial and Gen Z demographics: a whopping 42 percent of the U.S. population. And that’s just one country! TikTok is grabbing eyeballs—and a youthful demographic—all over the world.

What Brands Should Do

Given these factors, it’s no surprise that brands are embracing TikTok and striving to create their own content there. What does this mean for you? We recommend:

  • If you want to take up with TikTok, make sure you understand the platform. Know how to speak the language. Overt ads? That would be a No. As Pepsi demonstrated, playful content that takes its cues from user-generated content, on the other hand, is a huge Yes.
  • Stay current and informed. Short-form video is not exclusive to TikTok: one need look no further than Instagram’s Reels to see that there are alternatives. Stay on top of how TikTok, and its competitors, are innovating. By understanding what’s out there, you can make an informed choice for your brand.
  • Make sure you formulate a strategy for collaborating with TikTok influencers, who can be especially powerful (and helpful). We discuss this topic here.
  • If appropriate for your brand, understand how to incorporate social commerce on TikTok into both your advertising and marketing strategies. Curious? We blog about that here.

Contact True Interactive

TikTok can play a robust role in a brand’s marketing strategy. And we know the ropes. Contact us. We can help.

2021 Holiday Ads: Hope and Realism

2021 Holiday Ads: Hope and Realism

Advertising

Ready for some memorable holiday ads? In response to widely reported supply chain issues, some brands have teed up their holiday ads to come weeks ahead of traditional schedules. And as was the case last year, the campaigns are tasked with addressing the elephant that hasn’t left the room: Covid-19 and its lingering effects. If striking the right tone somewhere between hope and realism can be tricky, a few reliable themes — from connection to music, humor, and cheer — are helping brands thread that needle. Here are some examples:

Connection

We may live in divided times, but Etsy’s hopeful Give More Than a Gift campaign for 2021, which highlights unexpected connections, reminds us of our best selves. In one spot, a friendship springs up between two people from different walks of life. The tightly edited ad runs a mere 30 seconds, but it packs a wallop. The e-commerce company’s focus on unique, handmade items figures into the story, and the implicit message — that Etsy’s constellation of DIY sellers may help shoppers avoid the headache of larger retailers with supply chain issue delays — doesn’t hurt the brand, either.

Music and Surprise

The right music is key to a successful ad campaign, and brands have long been incorporating modern interpretations of classic hits in hopes of connecting with shoppers on a nostalgic level. In fact, according to Chelsea Gross, director analyst at research firm Gartner, nostalgia is particularly resonant this year as consumers potentially gather with loved ones after a year or more of pandemic-era separation.

For financial reasons, advertisers don’t always use the original song. It’s also worth noting that employing a cover can also add a unique spin, beyond the song’s original interpretation, to a nostalgic favorite. Consider the spot from Dutch e-tailer Bol.com, which is set to a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors.” In the ad, a boy who originally asked for a doll turns the soccer ball he got instead into an imaginary friend. Cue all the expected cozy feelings — but Bol.com is mining a different theme here, and an unexpected twist at the end of the spot gives Lauper’s familiar song added resonance. (Spoiler alert: this kitten has claws!) By subverting expectations — of a familiar song, of a storyline that, at least initially, seems familiar — the brand grabs our attention.

For a brand like Amazon, deep pockets can mean the freedom to use a song in its original incarnation. This year, the e-commerce giant debuts “Hold On” from Adele’s new album 30; the song hits a home run on several levels, playing backdrop to a spot that doesn’t shy away from the lingering challenges people face from the pandemic. The storyline isn’t overtly festive: two women share a quiet connection over their love of birds. But the ad, which is aligned with the launch of Amazon’s Christmas gift shop, covers a lot of ground, addressing mental health, loneliness, and the power of connection in a subtle two-and-a-half minutes.

Humor

Like Amazon, Extra gum isn’t afraid to look at the curveballs life can throw, but it takes a different tack, using humor to lean into some inconvenient truths about the holidays. As Extra spins it, while it’s great to be gathering for the holidays in a way 2020 simply didn’t allow, some time-honored traditions — from passive-aggressive presents to long-winded relatives — remain as tricky as they ever were before the pandemic. The solution? “Chew it before you do it.” In other words, chewing a piece of Extra gum can give that extra moment of pause, and transform a potentially awkward moment into a time of grace and connection. And who can argue with that?

Cheer

Of course, holiday ads for time immemorial have succeeded by tugging on the heartstrings, and a few notable campaigns from 2021 take that approach and run with it. Consider the McDonald’s U.K. ad that introduces us to a little girl and her imaginary monster friend, who bond over the Christmas ritual of leaving out bags of McDonald’s carrots as treats for Santa’s reindeer. Time passes (a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” plays in the background – apparently 2021 is Cyndi Lauper’s year), and we think the girl has outgrown her joyful friend. But — spoiler alert! — you might need to pull your hanky out. Some friendships are meant for the long haul.

Finally, consider Apple’s spot, which was filmed with an iPhone 13 Pro by the father-and-son team of Ivan and Jason Reitman. The three-minute short follows the efforts of Olive, a little girl determined to keep her snowman buddy alive all year ‘round. An unexpected finale doesn’t quite cue up as expected, but the overall vibe — and a dedication to the ones we’ve waited all year to be with — goes for the feels in a big way, and succeeds.

Contact True Interactive

Looking to navigate the nuances of a complex world and connect with audiences via digital? Contact us. We can help.

Why TikTok Has Embraced Social Shopping

Why TikTok Has Embraced Social Shopping

TikTok

TikTok has partnered with Shopify to make it possible for TikTok users to shop directly in the TikTok app. The headline here? Social shopping has become huge! Read on to learn more:

TikTok Made Me Buy It

TikTok, the video app that has taken Gen Z by storm, is perhaps best known as a go-to for short-form entertainment and memes. It’s not that products have been ignored. But up to now, TikTok has featured influencers who talk up merch—from clothing to household goods—and users could only buy those products through ads on the app.

Things have changed.

Now, with the Shopify/TikTok partnership, Shopify merchants participating in a pilot program can add a shopping tab to their profiles, then build a “mini-storefront” including prices, photos, and an “add to favorites” button. As Marketing Dive explains it, the storefront “leads users to [the brand’s] website upon checkout by syncing their product catalogs.” The shopping pilot is currently open to Shopify sellers in the U.S. and U.K., and will launch in other regions in coming months. (Merchants must have a TikTok For Business account in order to participate.)

The move is a savvy one, indicative of an understanding of a simple fact: users find merch that speaks to them on TikTok. According to The New York Times, two-thirds of TikTok users have been inspired to shop, even if that wasn’t their original intent when accessing the app in the first place. The phenomenon has gained enough attention that it even has a hashtag: #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt has garnered more than 4.7 billion views on the app.

TikTok isn’t alone: apps like Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter have all jumped onto the social commerce bandwagon. The data supports this trend: a recent eMarketer report reveals that social commerce sales in the U.S. have exploded, growing 35.8 percent this year, from $26.97 billion in 2020 to $36.62 billion in 2021.

Although TikTok is relatively new to this crowded field, it’s already demonstrated that it has a talent for making merch go viral. As we have blogged, TikTok collaborated with Walmart last December to host a shoppable livestream event. The response was . . . significant, with viewership exceeding expectations so spectacularly that a second event was scheduled for March 2021.

It’s also worth noting that TikTok Shopping is meant to appeal to brands large and small. As Blake Chandlee, the president of global business solutions at TikTok, said in a statement, “TikTok is uniquely placed at the center of content and commerce, and these new solutions make it even easier for businesses of all sizes to create engaging content that drives consumers directly to the digital point of purchase.” And brands are taking note. Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics is pegged to be one of the early TikTok Shopping adopters.

Why the News Matters

These developments underscore how big social shopping (also known as retail social commerce) has become. As noted above, eMarketer has acknowledged the multibillion-dollar industry retail value that social commerce represents. The market research company goes on to make a bold projection, predicting that 2020’s $26.97 billion in sales “will more than double by 2023, when we predict retail social commerce earnings will hit $56.17 billion.”

eMarketer also notes that social shopping is particularly popular with the surging Gen Z population. That’s good intel for brands hoping to reach this audience. Per eMarketer, more than half of U.S. social media users aged 18 to 24 have used a social channel to make purchases. eMarketer also says that in the United States, it’s the Millennials who are most likely to rely on social media networks as important information sources when deciding what to buy.

What Brands Should Do

How to incorporate social commerce into your marketing plan? We recommend that you:

  • Understand your audience. Are you reaching out to Gen Z? Boomers? Not all social commerce platforms are the same. TikTok resonates with Gen Z and Millennials. Boomers tend to gravitate to Facebook. Ask yourself: who am I trying to reach, and where can I find them?
  • Learn how to use the tools available to you. Each platform will have its own requirements for creating content. In addition, all of these popular sites will demand a strong understanding of how to use visuals—anymore, it’s essential that brands know how to create powerful imagery.
  • Appreciate how influencers can be a powerful ally to your brand. How might you partner with influencers to reach your audience online—and fan the flames of demand?
  • Make sure you are teed up for success. As we’ve blogged, many businesses have struggled to manage the surge in demand that can happen when they attract more shoppers with an intent to buy. Make sure your online fulfillment is up to handling an uptick in sales.

Contact True Interactive

Now more than ever, there are multiple ways brands can connect with their audience—and facilitate purchases. Contact us to learn more about leveraging the exciting digital opportunities out there.