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ECommerceTimes.com

The Sleeping Ad Giant That Is TikTok

By Jack M. Germain
Aug 9, 2021 5:00 AM PT
advertising on TikTok

Brands are seeking new and eye-catching ways to stay relevant with their ads amid the continuing surge of shopping online. As marketers look for every possible scenario to feed the consumer frenzy for digital deals, social media -- TikTok included -- could offer marketers one of their best options.

Social media outlet TikTok may be the key to advertisers' prayers, suggests Dariya Smailova, senior digital media buyer manager at Vendo, a company that helps Fortune 500 and emerging consumer brands succeed on Amazon.

The platform boasts a reported 689 million global active users as of January 2021. The TikTok app is opened an average of eight times daily. Those viewers spend an average of 52 minutes per day looking at sort user-generated videos of all sorts of human behavior, challenges, and entertaining performances.

For e-commerce businesses that are seriously considering a new source for brand awareness and customer acquisition, TikTok can be an unbeatable advertising investment, noted Smailova. The platform allows e-commerce brands to remain visible and present within the always-watching customer lifestyle.

"It is unique compared to other social media options. Its largest advantage is an ability to put all users on the same playing field regardless of followers and account life using key strategies for how to set your account and content up for success," she told the E-Commerce Times.

Constant Product Finds

TikTok is very important for e-commerce businesses now. It is the largest platform, and it is the trendiest platform that covers buying power, she noted.

Big brands like Amazon and Walmart are seeing a great sales surge from TikTok. Users are constantly sharing with each other what they see.

For example, currently the hashtag Walmart Finds has over one billion views. At the same time, hashtag Amazon Finds has more than 11 billion views.

The nature of the TikTok platform is very interesting because, not only are people sharing creative constants in different musical content or dance challenges, but it is also a microlearning platform, Smailova observed.

"People also share very short videos on how to do certain things like do-it-yourself projects or how to do makeup. So, e-commerce brands can use and actually benefit from the format," she added.

The sharing aspect of uploaded content is a key contributor to the widespread use of Tiktok's popularity. That, in part, results from TikTok's unique uploading process. It allows users to repurpose others' videos and contributes to an easier and faster viral distribution of content.

Why Advertise on TikTok?

The uniqueness of TikTok powers much of its potential as an advertising platform. Three factors make TikTok so popular and enable it to draw in massive amounts viewers to see ads, according to Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT.

"First and foremost are its users. Over half of them are reportedly teens to 29 years of age. That is a prime audience for advertisers because many people in that age range are sensitive to current/emerging trends," he told the E-Commerce Times.

Second, TikTok videos live or die on visual and verbal cleverness, he continued. Since boring content does not cut it, conventional advertisers may find the platform difficult or impossible to manage.

"But innovative agencies and voices will be able to exploit it to their and their clients' advantage," said King.

Finally, TikTok is an effective mechanism for developing new influencers and celebrities, observed King. People and agencies can use it to target often highly specific demographic and geographic audiences.

"Google, Facebook, and other ad platforms use algorithms to achieve that end but with often mixed results," he said.

No One-Size-Fits-All Strategy

TikTok fits into an advertising strategy that works well with Amazon-familiar shoppers, suggested Mike Frekey, head of advertising at marketing platform company Perch. As primarily Amazon sellers, Perch looks at the efficiency of advertising a bit differently from website DTC brands.

"In addition to profitability, we look at conversion rates of incoming traffic and how it influences our organic rank. TikTok, like most demand-generating ad sources, is taking on a much more difficult job of finding people who are not actively in a buying mindset and convincing them to convert," he told the E-Commerce Times.

Some brands are built for this, but most Amazon brands need to be conscious of the pitfalls display ads can have on organic ranks. Perch is interested in the greater influencer space as a driver of growth, and TikTok plays into that well, he offered.

"The key to TikTok's success as an ad platform for Amazon acquirers will be in their ability to target audiences that are in-market/likely to convert," Frekey said.

Ad Targeting Advantage

The primary viewers on TikTok are millennials, or potential shoppers aged 25 to 40, according to Smailova.

That target audience is rapidly expanding to include Gen Zers, who are becoming the primary video creators, she said.

"So TikTok has all the eyes and the ears of one of the biggest buying groups," she observed.

TikTok enables targeting ads to views by three categories: age, geographic location, and sex, she added.

How It Works

Smailova recommends creating unique videos to convey the product message. Unlike other social media outlets like Instagram and Facebook, TikTok only permits short video sequences.

As an ad agency, Vendo uses the platform to create various types of ads for mobile traffic for its clients. It also produces videos for lead generation.

The trick is to produce videos that do not look like a user upload. Often, if it is not obvious that the ad video is an advertisement, in that case, it will show a banner saying it is.

"I would recommend for the ad content to use videos that first of all do not look like [entertainment] videos. For instance, use videos where the founder is talking about the product, so it feels more natural, more native, and also feels like it is advertising," said Smailova.

Leveling the Playing Field

TikTok is unique because it encourages users to spend more time on the platform. That puts more eyes on more ads for a longer duration.

Things like dance challenges encourage users to participate. Another unique feature is being a video-only platform. It only supports very short videos up to 10 seconds. Instagram and Facebook are also outlets for photos.

Similar to when Instagram started, TikTok uses hashtags to label content so users are already familiar with that approach. Also, the upload system is different in that it allows other users to reuse video content. This makes it easier for videos to go viral much faster.

TikTok maintains a large video library and offers advanced editing and production tools such as filters. This gives advertisers a leg up in producing eye-catching content.

Intended for users to enhance their videos, these features also let smaller businesses create appealing video content without having to hire a professional production company, noted Smailova.


Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.


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