Making the Most of TikTok Ads

May 24, 2021 | Ad Creative article by Bridget Hall
Making the Most of TikTok Ads

Bridget Hall is Planning Director at M&C Saatchi Performance, a global, full-service performance advertising agency. Bridget’s expertise lies in helping her clients across Music & Entertainment, AVOD, and Education verticals build thoughtful digital strategies to maximize growth. Bridget has 10+ years of experience in channel planning, developing customer profiles, and hypothesis testing to ensure that media strategies are driven by robust research and have a clear line of sight to growth.

Why TikTok?

Short-form video plays a vital role for marketers looking to increase brand awareness and drive customer acquisition. TikTok is one of the most powerful mediums through which you can reach Gen Z and Millennials with immersive content, and you can have fun doing it

When planning our latest TikTok campaign, one aspect became immediately clear: TikTok does not have the same playbook as other social platforms. Above all, it is a democratized space where creativity thrives—content has the potential to go viral regardless of the volume of your followers. 

I’ve curated a few quick wins to help you through the planning stages of a TikTok campaign that will lead to more efficient results over time, including:

  • Leverage user-generated content by partnering with influencers to create video ads
  • Balance budgets across upper-funnel content amplification and in-feed units optimizing towards efficient cost per install goal
  • Measure success with multi-touch attribution and brand lift studies

What creatives will perform best?

With TikTok, avoid creating ads that are too polished. Instead, think about being authentic. Users are drawn to content that looks organic. Early testing indicates influencer videos speaking directly to the camera usually drive significantly higher engagement rates. And while TikTok ads can be as long as 60 seconds, many of the best-performing ads are only six to 19 seconds long. 

Below are five creative methods for a short-form video that drive success:

  • Use people Focused Footage
  • Speaking to camera
  • Create humorous content
  • User-generated / do-it-yourself content UGC works best
  • Incorporate the product or service into the video

Work with TikTok Influencers

The TikTok Creative Marketplace (TCM) makes building partnerships with strategic influencers easy. Using TCM instead of a production studio delivers cost savings and results in authentic content to test across In-Feed placements. With TCM, you can select the best influencers for your brand based on audience demos, engagement rate, best-performing videos, and more.

When working with influencers, I always encourage creators to bring their personality and creativity to the assignment rather than using heavily scripted or promotional-style videos. This helps drive high engagement rates in the range of 11%-16%, similar to organic TikTok content. 

TikTok recently launched a new feature on TCM called Discovery tab, a curated list of influencers deemed “brand safe” by TikTok, based on their level of expertise in working with brands. At the moment, these influencers are curated for beauty, fashion, and gaming categories.

How to build a full-funnel strategy

The best way to build a full-funnel strategy on TikTok is to test various ad types. You want to prime audiences about your brand and create a connection before pushing users down the funnel to convert. You can test various ad formats such as Brand Takeover or TopView best suited for upper-funnel KPIs due to high reach, alongside conversion driving tactics such as In-Feed ads, which rely more heavily on machine learning.

When it comes to targeting, it is best to start broad before layering on interest or demographic targeting to build learnings quickly.  Like Facebook, the “learning phase” may drive tumultuous results before a period of stability is reached. Acquiring at least fifty conversions is the best indicator that your campaign is leaving the discovery phase, and when it will automatically find look-alike audiences for your campaign based on maximum interaction with the app.

Last but not least…measurement

TikTok integrates with many of the leading mobile measurement players (Adjust, Kochava, Branch, and more), enabling advertisers to attribute incremental installs and measure the full impact of marketing campaigns. With the recent rollout of iOS 14.5 privacy changes, TikTok supports measurement and optimization based on SKAdNetwork.

One major change with iOS 14.5 is App Event Optimization (AEO) will not be generally available for iOS 14 campaigns. Advertisers can optimize towards install volume and efficient CPI but will not have visibility into post-install data such as in-app engagements or in-app purchases. We’re continuing to work with our clients to understand and adapt to minimize impact. 

For brands interested in maximizing TikTok for branding initiatives, I recommend implementing a brand lift study. This type of study involves surveying a test group (those viewing your ad) and a control group (potential ad audience) with a short-customized survey to gauge Ad Recall, Favorability, and even Purchase Intent.

After putting in the effort to nail the right creative, ad formats, and targeting, the brand lift study is the final step to understanding the direct impact your TikToks have on user perceptions and behaviors.

For more on driving new qualified users with TikTok Ads, check out M&C Saatchi Performance’s latest case study.

M&C Saatchi Performance is a global digital media agency that takes a human approach to connect brands to people, across all channels. We create targeted, measurable, evolving media strategies to deliver business growth for its clients. If you would like to discuss your digital marketing needs, please contact us at

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