5 Things to Know About TikTok Advertising

5 Things to Know About TikTok Ads Before Starting

Tim Welsh Paid Marketing, Social Media

There is a new player in town and brands are running jumping over themselves to jump onto the bandwagon. (We have a number of clients on it already.) Everyone is asking the same two questions.

  1. Should we be on TikTok?
  2. Should we be moving advertising dollars from Facebook/Instagram to TikTok?

I will dive into the first question in another post but, when it comes to whether or not you should jump into TikTok advertising, I think there are a few things that you should know before you take the plunge.

Editorial Note: While some of these points might make it seem like we’re against advertising on TikTok here at Phrasing, we’re not. Simply put, it’s just important to us that we all manage our expectations and work our way into a new platform intelligently. We are running campaigns across 4 different industries on TikTok right now and are continuously re-evaluating the platform per each.

This article was updated on March 8, 2021, with new information from our experiences as advertisers on TikTok.

TikTok Will Give You Money to Start Advertising – EXPIRED

UPDATE: While they are now offering some flexible billing options, TikTok is not giving away money the same way that they were in the beginning. Their ‘advertise now and pay later’ option isn’t necessarily a game-changer but some brands might like it. The advertising spend match isn’t an advantage anymore though.

This is the best part about starting in TikTok right now. TikTok has a program to give businesses money for advertising on their platform. They have committed $100 million to ad credits for businesses that join and begin advertising on their platform.

The initial benefit is $300 but many companies can unlock a $2,000 matched funding from TikTok.

If you’re considering joining TikTok, it is worth noting that acting quickly could allow you to test out the platform for 50% off all of your advertising. This is a pretty amazing incentive.

We have seen this program have issues where they incorrectly flagged some of our clients because we’re running the ads out of a similar IP Address or with similar billing details. We haven’t figured out the exact issue but, it is worth noting that it takes over a week for them to restore your funds if this happens to you.

Their Click Metrics Are Not Website Visitors

While the metrics on a social media advertisement and Google Analytics have often seen some level of discrepancy, it is worth noting that TikTok’s ads only measure Clicks and do not separate out those clicks into engagement clicks and link clicks. The easiest example of this was revealed to us when one of our clients had the following discrepancy.

TikTok measured 250 Clicks on our traffic campaign. Google Analytics recorded 2 visitors over the same period.

This doesn’t mean that the campaigns are not effective but, if you are reporting on clicks as Users/Sessions as part of your Traffic campaign, know that you’re going to see some major issues.

This further proves that TikTok is almost purely a branding exercise, regardless of which campaign objective you choose.

UPDATE: We’re still finding this to be an issue. If driving significant traffic to your website is your main goal, you’re going to be very frustrated by this metric and your CPC when you test it against nearly every other social platform. Interestingly though, our tests on using UGC content in ads have seen a better response. Fabletics is a brand that’s flooded the network with UGC ads…or at least ones that are made to appear as UGC.

You Cannot Promote Your Profile on TikTok

You read that correctly. On Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, and every other social media ad platform you have link your ads to your account, you actually CAN’T on TikTok.

UPDATE: There are now 2 ways to use your social media profile in ads. These are called Spark Ads. The first is to have your TikTok profile attached to your Business Manager account. This might be fine for brands that run their own ads but it will be a roadblock for agencies. When you’re an agency, you have to rely on a post-by-post permission setting where you grab a code and input it into your Ad Account in order to use it as an ad. It’s a fairly cumbersome process but you can see the link from TikTok on the process here. We don’t like this process or these options very much but it does solve a fiarly significant problem that the platform had at launch.

Screenshot of Ad Identity Fields

If you’re looking to grow your brand on TikTok, you will not be able to do this utilizing the self-managed ads dashboard. This is a major shortcoming in our eyes as one would hope that a brand could attach its work to the profile that they are working so hard to curate.

This might be different when you’re advertising on a larger level but, the vast majority of companies will see this issue.

TikTok Pixel Tracking is Limited

If you love creating trackable events with dynamic transaction values to your ad campaigns, TikTok is not for you. While they do have the same click-and-track features as Facebook’s pixels, the ability to track dynamic variables or install specific events as tags in your Google Tag Manager is not yet available.

Also, make sure to set up any pageview as an event or you will have problems creating audiences for retargeting. This is not something that is done by default.

Pro Tip: Create a Custom Event pixel or your tracking will be HIGHLY limited. The Custom Events pixel allows you to incorporate all of the other pixel types.

UPDATE: Tracking is still an issue when it comes to the TikTok pixel. We fire everything via Google Tag Manager and the API but we were told that TikTok’s pixel is having issues with WordPress and tracking things like PageViews as recently as this week. That’s an obvious issue for a few million websites, including many of our clients. We advise setting up your pixel to fire via API and Google Tag Manager but don’t expect it to be all that accurate given what we’ve been told from TikTok’s own support desk.

TikTok pixel types

They Have a Video Builder

I’ll end this article with another strong feature of TikTok ads. They have a video builder. This is actually quite a handy feature. Facebook created something similar but, this is one of the few places where I would say that TikTok has an advantage. The templates here are much more robust.

TikTok Ads Create a Video Button
Create a Video Button

Once you have selected to ‘Create a Video’, you’ll be able to try out multiple video types. I’ll save you some time and advise that you go with the Use Video Template or Smart Video options. These are the only two that we’ve seen produce videos of high quality.

Video Types in TikTok Ads
Video Types in TikTok Ads

TikTok Ads Conclusion

If you’re looking for your next great solution that’s going to bring you an amazing ROI, TikTok isn’t for you. On the other hand, if you really are looking to crack the egg on getting exposure to a younger, very engaged audience, TikTok could be wonderful.

TikTok is not yet a proven platform for small to medium businesses but has a very high ceiling. I would recommend at least testing the waters while the ad credit is in play if you have a product or service that would resonate with a younger audience.

As this network is one designed around creators, you WILL need to have a strong creative direction when you come into this network. Do not rely on your favorite still images. You need creative, engaging video to do well in this space.

Good luck out there!

UPDATE: TikTok advertising continues to show little growth in ways that will be appealing to marketers. Their targeting can be really strong for some eCommerce brands but many niche companies are going to struggle to find an audience that’s reliable. Due to issues that we’ve seen with tracking and metrics, we really only advise using TikTok ads for one thing: Video Views. This network still has a ceiling that is sky high and this is a network that cannot be ignored if you plan on selling to anyone under the age of 45 in 5 years. Still, don’t abandon your proven networks for this one until they continue to develop the product and experience for professionals.