After my knee surgery earlier this year I had a lot of time on my hands, and I went down the TikTok rabbit hole. I wrote about how old and out of touch spending time on the platform made me feel. But as I’ve kept my eye on TikTok over the past six months, I have come to the conclusion that TikTok is really a creator’s toolkit: a way for creative people to express themselves like they’ve never been able to do before.

I pointed out the difference between Instagram and TikTok; Instagram is what you use when you are doing awesome stuff like eating dinner on the Mediterranean or capturing the beauty of a sunrise over the Adirondacks. TikTok is what you do when you are bored sitting in your bedroom or friend’s backyard. Millenials love Instagram because of how we can use it to show off, and we can show off since we have careers and a bit of money to travel and do cool stuff. But the demographic that does not yet have the means or the capability to do cool stuff all the time is one coveted by advertisers for their future-proofing strategy: Gen Z.

Gen Z spends a lot of time on TikTok. Internal stats show that (in France) over half of the TikTok audience is under 25 and half of that again is under 18. TikTok’s music angle helps people create very cool content with minimal production effort. That music angle also allows for greater virality as people can discover content across different dimensions, not just hashtags like on other social platforms. The potent combination of music, innovative editing tools, and virality makes TikTok a teenager’s dream. Users use it three times more per day than Instagram.

So TikTok has your target audience captivated, how can you reach them?

The Advertising Formats on TikTok

There are two basic types of advertising (or brand partnerships) available on TikTok: traditional and interactive.

Traditional advertising on TikTok takes the form of what you would largely expect if you’re familiar with other social platforms. Brands pay to have their videos placed in front of viewers in different ways.

  • Brand Takeover – the first thing that people see when they open the app. It’s basically an app interstitial that takes up the full screen. It can be a static image or a 3 to 5 second video. TikTok currently sells this as a 100% SOV option where one brand is present for the entire day in a certain market. TikTok reports very strong click-through rates.
  • Top View – this takes the brand takeover option a little bit further where the brand content becomes the first post in a user’s feed. This enables the advertiser to use longer content (TikTok videos can be up to 1 minute in general) and opens up the interaction options that are present whenever anyone scrolls through their feed.
  • In-Feed Video – the most classic format, video is full screen and can be between 5 and 60 seconds long. It appears in the feed as people scroll. Advertisers can drive to a website or to a hashtag challenge. People can also share the content to their TikTok networks or other social networks, so great content does have the chance to take on a viral dimension.

But really the way that TikTok is taking advantage of its creator DNA is in the interactive advertising formats that give brands a true chance to stand out. There are two primary ways that brands can use TikTok:

  • Hashtag Challenge – you probably heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge that buzzed around other social networks but TikTok is the beating heart of challenges in 2019. Brands can create hashtag challenges that TikTokers can use as a pretext to create content, which is in turn shown to their communities. TikTok has seen incredible success in this type of brand partnership, and the other formats listed above can be bought together in order to drive attention to the hashtag challenge.
  • Branded Lens – augmented reality is taking off everywhere but TikTok is really pioneering some amazing technology. One thing that TikTok does better than anyone else is recognizing triggers to launch the filter. You can shoot a pistol with your finger, jump up and down, and create custom triggers that fit your brand. Just open the app and take a look, but TikTok offers brands the chance to be featured (their studio creates the lens) and then to stay in the app for 2 months after that. With tons of young people testing these out everyday it’s a real differentiator.

Fans can also co-create content, meaning taking the video that a creator has made and filming themselves next to it – think Japanese TV with the reaction heads.

Whatever happens with TikTok, we’re just at the very beginning. Get in now while the getting’s good!

3 thoughts on “Advertising on TikTok: Using This New Social Network to Reach Gen Z

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