TikTok was relatively slow off the block in implementing a formal advertising program. For this reason, brands had to find alternative ways to advertise on TikTok. This is one of the reasons that influencer marketing has thrived on the platform.
TikTok started experimenting with advertising in late 2018, although it didn't take off until well into the following year. There was much discussion in the early days about the high cost of TikTok ads. It can cost brands $50,000 to $120,000 to take over a popular TikTok channel, for instance, and the cost of a hashtag challenge has a flat fee of $150,000 for six days, with firms spending additional dollars on promoting the challenge.
However, now that TikTok has introduced short native video ads, things are now much more affordable for brands wishing to advertise on TikTok.
How Much do TikTok Ads Cost?:
TikTok Now has a Formal Ads Program? Will it Cost You a Fortune?
It has taken a while for TikTok to enter the ads market, but they have now set up their formal ads program. It has been slow, gradual progress, however. At least this has meant that you don't have intense competition to gain the coveted spots on TikTok – unlike on Facebook and Instagram, where winning the best advertising positioning can get ruthless and cutthroat.
Is TikTok Advertising Suitable for Your Business?
TikTok is rapidly growing in popularity as a short-video sharing app. In fact, there have been months when TikTok was the most downloaded non-gaming app in both the Apple and Android (Google Play) app stores. It shouldn't be a surprise that many brands want to be part of the action. They already have active accounts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as well as a YouTube channel.
However, any TikTok advertising (or even running a company TikTok account) will depend very much on the demographics of your intended customer base.
As of 2023, the majority of TikTok’s user base, 19.5%, are women aged 18-24, with males of the same age group making up 17.8%. The following age group, 25-34, boasts similar numbers, with 16.3% women and 16.6% male.
Looking specifically at TikTok's user base by gender, most of the app's users are female, 51%, with males making up the remaining 49%. The data shows us that the gender distribution on TikTok is almost equal, with a slight tilt towards female users.
So, if your business targets young women, then you should seriously consider advertising on TikTok, as well as setting up your own TikTok presence. If you sell products more suited to Baby Boomers or Generation X, then you will probably perform better on the platforms where they spend their time.
TikTok Advertising Can be Expensive Compared to Facebook and Instagram
Obviously, some of TikTok's best-known advertisers, such as Nike and Disney, have deep pockets when it comes to advertising. They are highly unlikely to quibble about cost unless there is a vast difference. It can seem more expensive than the more familiar Facebook / Instagram advertising, however.
Ads on TikTok are still new. This means that TikTok can afford to charge a premium rate for them, knowing that advertisers aren’t going to abandon TikTok to compete with their competitors for prime Facebook/Instagram advertising space.
TikTok ads start at $10 per CPM (cost per 1000 views). Also, they require you to spend a minimum of $500 on a campaign. So you aren’t going to use formal TikTok ads for a cheap and cheerful viral marketing campaign.
Types of TikTok Advertising and Marketing
Working with Influencers
Until relatively recently, if you were a firm wanting to market on TikTok, you only really had one viable option – to partner with a TikTok influencer and work with them to promote your brand. And in many ways, this hasn't changed. If you can build up harmonious relationships with well-performed and popular TikTok users, whose follower demographics match your target audience, then this is still probably the most cost-efficient way to spread your message. Additionally, leveraging Influencer Marketing Platforms can provide a streamlined approach to connect with suitable influencers, optimize campaigns, and track performance, enhancing the overall effectiveness of your TikTok marketing strategy.
If you can collaborate with an influencer to promote your products to a massive network of interested followers, you have the chance to gain a good return on your investment. This does, of course, assume that you sell a product that makes for interesting, enticing videos, that will spark an influencer's followers to take notice of your brand.
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Promoting Your Own TikTok Channel
If you have a young social media marketing team, and your brand targets the correct demographics for TikTok, you could consider setting up a TikTok channel for your company. This is no different from a firm that sets up Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter accounts or shares videos on a company YouTube channel.
But remember that people don’t come to TikTok to learn about your brand and its products. They generally go there for entertainment or to share their creative endeavors. The last thing they want to watch is the ads for your products.
So if you are going to set up a TikTok channel, you have to give value to your followers. You want to share videos that interest them, perhaps make them sufficiently curious to take a closer look at what your brand offers.
Of course, some products and services have a much easier time than others gaining traction on TikTok. Fim studios can easily set up and share sort video clips of the latest blockbusters. Likewise, it is a natural fit for music companies to share music clips.
Sharing TikTok Content on Other Social Platforms
Just because something originated on TikTok doesn’t mean that it has to stay there. You will find numerous channels on YouTube where people share TikTok highlights videos, for example.
You could even promote relevant TikTok content (either your own or those created by influencers with whom you have made arrangements) via your Instagram Stories, Instagram Reels, and Snapchat Snaps. Just avoid spending too much time sharing TikTok promotions on social sites with markedly different demographics to TikTok.
TikTok’s name has become synonymous with challenges. Probably the best-known one was Jimmy Fallon's #Tumbleweed Challenge. He challenged people to make a video and share it on TikTok, of somebody rolling around on the ground like a tumbleweed, with Western-style music playing in the background. The challenge was a tremendous success, with Tikok fans uploading 8,000 videos, and resulting in over 9 million views in seven days.
While a successful brand-focused challenge would bring maximum publicity, it would also be harder to get cynical TikTok followers to follow the lead.
TikTok’s Paid Advertising Program
TikTok has finally followed Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn, and set up its official paid advertising program.
While the other forms of TikTok marketing are relatively unofficial, you might prefer the structure of TikTok's official paid advertising program. It is relatively early days for this, so the platform lacks some of the finesse of the Facebook and YouTube versions in particular. But you may be able to make up for this because it is less likely that your competition will be flooding TikTok with higher ad bids than yours.
TikTok offers four main types of ad:
1. In-feed ads
Native in-feed ads on TikTok resemble the typical advertisements that one would encounter on platforms such as Instagram or Twitter. These ads last for 15 seconds and appear naturally within a user's feed, and they can be skipped. Various call-to-action (CTA) types, such as app downloads, website clicks, and more, are possible with these ads.
2. Brand takeover ads
One of the pricier options for ad-buying on TikTok is brand takeovers. These ads can come in the form of still images, GIFs, or videos, and are linked to a brand's profile or a corresponding hashtag challenge. TikTok allows only one brand per day to monopolize this feature, ensuring a genuine brand takeover. Although brand takeovers require a significant investment, it guarantees that the day belongs solely to the brand that pays for it.
3. Hashtag challenge
The hashtag challenge is likely the most well-liked feature by TikTok users since it provides them with a sense of purpose beyond just viewing an ad. TikTok's foundation is user-generated content, and hashtag challenges encourage interaction by combining user creativity with brand messaging. Additionally, partnering with influencers can help to increase buzz around the hashtag challenge.
4. Branded lenses
Similar to Snapchat's branded filters, TikTok's branded lenses feature allows users to choose from various filter options to enhance their videos. Branded lenses appear in the trending section, and users can interact with them while filming their videos.
As you would expect, TikTok in-feed native ads are generally short videos, although you can opt for static images if you prefer. You can even use custom filters to enhance the look of your work.
Experienced marketers who have used native TikTok ads suggest, that you should budget at least $500 for even a simple campaign. One marketer goes as far as to suggest that you should be prepared to pay $50,000 to $120,000 to run ads on the platform.