May 12 2023
Megan Reschke

3 Things Advertisers Need to Know About TikTok


Imagine going back in time and trying to explain TikTok to your 2009 self:

“No, not the absolute banger that Kesha just dropped—it’s a social media platform. You can find everything from funny animal videos, to product recommendations, to mouthwatering recipes, to trending dances. But you don’t find them just by following people you know; there’s an algorithm that places videos it thinks you’ll like alongside content from accounts you follow on a feed called a “For You Page” (FYP). The more you engage with a certain type of content, the more related content shows up on your FYP. Oh, and you’ll probably spend a movie’s length of time scrolling through it every day.”

Whether or not our past selves would have believed us, there’s no denying it: The TikTok boom has shifted the social media paradigm. And as users spend more and more time on the app, advertisers are presented with a unique opportunity to engage them.

So, how can advertisers take advantage of that opportunity? They can start by understanding the platform in all its uniqueness. Here are three big things to know:

1. TikTok is a full-screen, sound-on platform.

Though video has been around for a long time, the ways we consume it are fluid and ever-evolving. Considering that our attention spans have shrunk over the past several decades, it’s no surprise that short-form videos, such as those found on TikTok, have risen in popularity.

Though videos on the platform are brief, they are highly engaging and create an immersive experience. On their FYPs, users are met with vertically aligned videos that take up the entirety of their mobile phone screens. And, since sound is a crucial piece of the TikTok experience (after all, one of the ways users can find new content is by looking at videos that use the same audio as the current TikTok they’re watching), most users scroll with sound on. In other words, TikTok provides a full-screen, sound-on experience.  

This means that marketers can get their message in front of audiences and engage them through both video and sound. When your ad is playing, all eyes and ears are on you—it’s a great opportunity to show (rather than tell) what your brand or product is all about.

2. TikTok is changing the way users discover and engage with products.

Not only is TikTok an engaging way to connect with audiences, but it also delivers across marketing objectives.

“Hang on,” some marketers might say. “Wouldn’t TikTok only work for upper funnel KPIs?”

Think again! Due to its truly unique nature, TikTok is shifting the way that users discover and engage with products, allowing advertisers to connect with audiences throughout the purchasing journey.

In fact, TikTok is changing the customer journey itself. Rather than a linear experience flowing from awareness, to consideration, to purchase and retention, TikTok’s path to purchase looks more like an infinite loop: Discovering, commenting, shopping, watching, referring, creating, liking, and so on happen simultaneously and continuously. And, TikTok audiences are more likely to purchase a product in the moment they see it.

With 49% of users saying they’ve purchased a product or service because of TikTok, it’s clear that the platform can drive tangible results for products and brands.

3. The most impactful TikTok ads are raw, authentic, and real.  

Perhaps the most important thing advertisers need to know about TikTok? Users crave authenticity. And it makes sense, right? No one wants an overly salesy ad in between silly cat videos and Pedro Pascal sandwich memes. This need for authenticity and realness isn’t purely anecdotal: 71% of global TikTok users prefer brand posts that are raw rather than over-polished, and 65% feel that “overly professional-looking” brand content feels out of place.

So, what should ads on TikTok look like? Here are a few recommendations for effective creative tactics:

  • Don’t over-polish your content
  • Lean into the latest trends—but only when it makes sense for your brand
  • Aim for ads that feel like user-generated content (UGC), or better yet, partner with TikTok creators on UGC ads

Wrapping Up: Making the Most of Your TikTok Advertising Strategy

What started as a place to catch up on the latest viral trends and learn new dance moves has exploded into a captivating and powerful entertainment platform. With users spending more and more time on the app each day, TikTok offers advertisers a compelling opportunity to connect with audiences. And, by leaning into the style of the content on the app—raw, authentic, and real—marketing teams can make meaningful connections with consumers throughout their individual journeys.    

Interested in learning even more about all things TikTok? Check out our webinar, Seizing the TikTok Advertising Opportunity. In it, you’ll hear firsthand from experts at TikTok about key advertising strategies, best practices, and more so your team can leverage the platform’s power effectively.

Watch the Webinar