Where has TikTok come from and why should brands take a closer look at this niche app that got over 1 billion downloads in its first year.

  • ByteDance, a Chinese tech firm merged TikTok with the acquired app Musical.ly in 2018.
  • The social media app allows users to record, edit, and share short videos or looping 15-60 second clips with musical overlay, visual effects, and sound effects.
  • While TikTok may at first glance, appear to be an array of unrelated posts, its rising popularity and video-focused design, provides brands with new unique marketing and brand awareness opportunities.

“Native advertising - a paid placement in which the ad blends in with the look and format of the surrounding content - isn’t new, but it is enjoying a major renaissance.” Content Marketing Institute.

What is native advertising?

Native advertising is a method for content distribution, and one of its greatest strengths is that it can guarantee content placement and visibility for a brand, for example in news sources and websites that are not associated with the company’s media. According to eMarketer, the use of native is the fastest-growing segment within advertising, largely down to the fact that native advertising has to adapt to its surroundings, meaning it can achieve real-time relevance by aligning ads with trends and topics on platforms that consumers are already interested in. The content presented to consumers will be valuable and engaging, whilst connecting them to the brand’s story.

70% of users would rather learn about products through content than traditional advertising. (Content Marketing Institute)

Content that is promoted through native advertising is relevant, valuable, and informative so that a relationship with consumers can be formed based on credibility and trust. When coupled with the fact that it adapts to its surroundings, which results in a more natural form of advertising that does not intrude on a user’s experience or contributes to ad fatigue and blocking, it comes as no surprise that it is surpassing traditional forms of advertising.

According to the Global Web Index, 44% of consumers will install an ad-blocker because they find ads too intrusive. Therefore, if native advertising is abiding by the regulations set out, it should eliminate this key motivator for ad-blockers.

Native video now attracts 308% more attention than banner ads, and with US advertisers set to spend almost $44 billion on native ads in 2019, native advertising appears to be a strategy well worth considering for brands.

“Native is important to Google because we think native advertising will be the future of advertising and it benefits everyone in the ecosystem; the users, the publishers, the advertisers.” Ekin Ozenci, Mobile Product Specialist, Google.

What has this got to do with TikTok?

Firstly, what is TikTok? 

Launched by ByteDance, TikTok is an iOS and Android social media video app used to create and share short lip-sync and comedy videos. With over a billion downloads, 500 million monthly active users and over 2 billion views a day of content in the UK alone, it comes as no surprise that TikTok is on the minds of brand advertisers and marketers.

Users spend an average of 52 minutes per day on the platform, they want one thing from the app, and that is to be entertained. TikTok has recognised this and their mission statement perfectly encapsulates this:

“TikTok is the world's leading destination for short-form mobile videos. Our mission is to capture and present the world's creativity, knowledge, and moments that matter in everyday life. TikTok empowers everyone to be a creator directly from their smartphones.”

Mobile is key:

Regardless of having smaller screens, mobile phones are now considered the medium where video thrives the most. According to eMarketer, in 2019 for the first time, the average US adult will spend more time engaging with their mobile devices than watching TV. Therefore, if brands want to stay at the forefront of a consumer’s attention, they should not be thinking of mobile first, but mobile only

So what?

The success of mobile is primarily down to two reasons, current technology and the change in user behaviour. Now that advertisers have access to new mobile technology e.g. 5G, coupled with developing user behaviour, a new wave of opportunities to grab a user’s attention has come about thanks to video advertising.

When considering how much time users spend with in-app video content, native video appears to be a particularly exciting venture. Results from a study commissioned by Snapchat states that for every hour spent with mobile internet, millennials spend 22 minutes and Gen Z spend 24 minutes watching videos.

Brands On TikTok:

A brand’s focus with TikTok should be driving brand awareness as opposed to leads or traffic, as the app has only recently started to follow advertising and does not yet allow hyperlink posts to websites. To survive on this app, creativity is key and fashion brand Calvin Klein’s ‘My Calvins’ work has set the bar.

It reused video ads for its jeans and underwear, worn by celebrities and influencers like Shawn Mendes, Kendall Jenner and A$AP Rocky to encourage a branded hashtag challenge that would ask users to upload a similar clip in response using the ‘Duet’ feature on the app.

This was Calvin Klein’s most-viewed digital campaign ever with results stating that it was ten times better than the 2015 ‘My Calvins’ Justin Bieber drive.

TikTok

The main takeaway from this opportunity is that engagement will not be forced, the ads are not disrupting the user so, as a result, their experience can only be positive. There are many factors to consider that are responsible for driving interest in native advertising, for example, while digital media consumption becomes increasingly mainstream, advertisers are paying closer attention to optimising their digital performance.

But, perhaps more importantly, native videos are solely about education and entertainment. Unlike sales and product-oriented content, they are researched and focused on telling stories and when they are combined with their ability to educate or entertain, they are far more digestible, engaging, and shareable amongst consumers. TikTok has very successfully tapped into and executed this.

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