When TikTok first burst onto the digital advertising scene, one of the main questions that kept cropping up was: what makes a good TikTok ad? At first, this wasn’t an easy question to answer. TikTok advertising was new, best practices weren’t defined, and although brands were able to achieve extremely high performance, it wasn’t exactly clear what marks were being hit in order to achieve these strong results.
For many of the early adopters, this meant a period of figuring things out, testing new creative approaches—looking to see what works and equally importantly, what doesn’t. This experimental approach is actually now seen as a key best practice on the platform, with TikTok advertisers being rewarded for pushing boundaries and tapping into the ever-changing trends that are playing out organically.
However, a common, suboptimal approach to TikTok ads was to simply copy and paste creative from other platforms. Even to this day, it’s easy to tell that many of the in-feed ads you come across whilst scrolling your TikTok feed were actually produced originally for somewhere else. The most obvious giveaway being that the ad’s copy is often obscured by TikTok’s user-interface.
The anatomy of an optimized TikTok video ad
We’re now at a point where the adoption of TikTok advertising has skyrocketed, helping to give us a better idea of the key ingredients that make up an optimized TikTok ad...
- Utilize user-generated content (UGC)
- Design vertically with the user-interface in mind
- Start with a bang and maintain a fast pace
- Amplify story through music & sound effects
- Experiment with your brand’s personality
To best communicate these important best practices, this article has taken five examples from the wild, putting them under the microscope to examine which components have led to them being successful as TikTok ads.
The above example for meal-kit delivery service, HelloFresh, is a classic example of a TikTok ad that heavily draws upon UGC. This raw style of video footage gives the ad an authentic feel, aligning it with the visual aesthetic of organic TikTok content. Taking this approach didn’t mean that HelloFresh had to completely exclude branded elements. As you can see, the logo features prominently within the first couple of seconds, and branded elements are included throughout, they have just been treated in a less in your face, more natural manner.
Brands can draw inspiration from this ad’s simple, yet effective approach. The focus on authenticity through UGC, combined with subtle branding, engaging editing and impactful sound design, highlights a winning formula that doesn’t require large investment from a production standpoint.
This example, for beauty brand Dermalogica, utilizes an instructional structure that works great for TikTok advertising purposes. The simple copy: “Flip. Squeeze. Foam. Rinse. Glow.” reflects the step-by-step style of organic videos that are commonly seen whilst scrolling the “For You” feed.
This is perfect for brand marketing purposes, especially for CPG brands wishing to effectively educate audiences around product functionality and characteristics.
Video-editing app, Zoomerang, was uniquely suited to TikTok advertising due to the fact that their app helps users of platforms such as TikTok to shoot and edit fun and engaging content. To promote the app, they created high energy in-feed ads, using attention grabbing transitions to maintain attention right through until the video’s conclusion where a strong CTA was used, leading viewer’s to install pages.
4. Spark App
For their TikTok campaigns, dating app, Spark, also took a UGC-style approach, mixing this footage with brand elements. This combined with the editing style and use of music enabled the ad to feel less disruptive, fitting natively within TikToker's feeds.
The copy in the ad also took a sticker approach to match the ad even further with the TikTok's organic style, helping it to resonate better with audiences.
In the example above, Haier Japan also relies upon raw, unpolished footage. However, the key point to note for this ad is its use of music. Music plays a hugely important role on TikTok, it is not a secondary component, it needs to be considered on equal footing as the ad’s visuals.
Haier recognized this, with the ad above being centered around the music rather than the other way around. The branded song is lip synced by the subjects within the ad, meaning the visuals and the music are working harmoniously towards a common goal.
Take off with TikTok
Hopefully these five examples provide you with some actionable creative insights to help inspire your future TikTok campaigns.
If you would like to learn more about TikTok advertising, and how to get started on the platform, you can check out our webinar: ‘Tapping into TikTok: an advertisers guide to getting started’.