TikTok Ad Formats: Everything You Need To Know

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Want to advertise on TikTok? We got you.

TikTok is still an unfamiliar landscape for marketers. In this article, we take you through the available TikTok ad formats, and whether these are right for your brand.  

1. In-feed video ads

An ‘in-feed video ad’ is marketer speak for a native TikTok ad. This TikTok ad format is the equivalent of a sponsored post on Facebook on Instagram. Therefore, it looks just like any other TikTok would in a user’s For You Page.

These are 15-second videos that appear organically as the user is scrolling through content. In-feed video ads can have a song or sound playing in the background like all TikTok videos. Additionally, advertisers can change the ‘Call-to-Action’ on these ads, picking from options like “Learn More”, or “Download Now”. This makes them appropriate for lots of scenarios such as promoting apps, music, websites, or encouraging purchases.

These ads blend in and appear organic on the feed, so they’re a lot less disruptive for users. Brands can leverage this format in a ton of ways: such as consistently posting interesting content, participating in a hashtag challenge, or featuring influencers in videos to promote their product or service.

2. Hashtag Challenges

Hashtag challenges are an incredibly popular TikTok ad format, because they encourage user-generated content and participation. While brands might have their own hashtags on Instagram or Twitter, TikTok hashtag challenges create deeper engagement by encouraging users to participate and interact. As a brand, the more users who create content for your challenge, the better reach you get!

In essence, a branded hashtag challenge is simply a prompt or trend, sometimes kickstarted with influencer participation to boost initial engagement. If a challenge goes viral, this can mean crazy levels of engagement. 

It isn’t all views and likes though, TikTok’s Hashtag Challenge Plus feature adds e-commerce elements into the ad, meaning featured products or services can be purchased directly from the ad. 

The ‘challenge’ of hashtag challenges is creating an interesting enough trend that users will want to replicate. Partnering with influencers can go a long way in making your challenge appealing, and making sure it doesn’t fall flat.

Brands like Chipotle have truly mastered the art of hashtag challenges, getting over 3.9 billion views on their recent #boorito challenge.

3. Custom Influencers

Speaking of influencers – they’re crucial to any TikTok marketer’s arsenal. 

Firstly, TikTok influencers tend to have far better reach and following than branded accounts so they can give your campaigns a much-needed initial boost. This is crucial to hashtag challenges, where virality comes from user participation – so, the more people you reach, the more likely someone participates.

Secondly, influencers don’t just mean views and likes on your videos, they can often encourage action further down the funnel, such as garnering streams on music, or downloads and purchases. 

What can prove challenging is finding an influencer who aligns with your brand and goals. We’re here to make this easier, having successfully coordinated viral campaigns with influencers across the music, fashion and beauty industries. If you aren’t ready to book a strategy session yet, you can get in contact to find out more about our in-house TikTok influencer discovery tool that can help you find the best TikTok influencers in any niche. 

4. Brand Takeovers

One of the more expensive TikTok ad formats is the brand takeover. This is a full-screen ad that appears on top of the user’s For You Page, when they open TikTok.

Brand takeovers can be incredibly successful for driving direct traffic or sales. This is because brand takeovers are unique to their category, so you’re not competing for user attention on your content. Users only see one brand takeover ad a day, and while this is fantastic for fast growth and high reach, it makes this TikTok ad format more costly than others. 

Brands do well with this format when they’re slightly more established rather than just starting out on TikTok. However, keep this format in mind: with 90% of TikTok users launching the app everyday, your reach could be wider here than on any other network.

It’s also worth combining TikTok ad formats – for example you can use a brand takeover to promote your hashtag challenge, giving you wider coverage across the platform. 

5. Top Views

Top views are similar to brand takeovers. However, instead of being the first thing users see when they open the app, a Top View ad is the first in-feed post after 3 seconds of use. Top View ads can offer up to 60 seconds of footage, and are displayed in the For You Page. 

This can be useful for an ad-phobic audience like Gen-Z, since you might not want to bombard younger users with an ad right as soon as they open up TikTok. 

6. Branded lenses and effects

TikTok features AR filters, just like Instagram and Snapchat. The branded lens is an AR filter you can overlay on your face or in your environment. And its a popular feature: according to TikTok, 64% of users have tried using filters and lenses before

In addition to filters and lenses, brands can also create stickers for users to add to their TikToks. While brands might want to dabble in creating their own filter, it is a slightly more technical process. Do get in touch with us if you would like to explore a TikTok AR lens or filter for your brand.

7. Which TikTok ad format is right for my brand?

Well…TikTok is still the Wild West of advertisement, so things change rapidly and everyone is experimenting, to some extent. That being said, in-feed video ads, hashtag challenges and influencer partnerships can be tailored to your campaign, so these are accessible options for all marketing budgets, big and small. 

AR brand lenses fall somewhere in between, since they require upfront investment in developing a filter. However, this cost can vary so it’s still an option for smaller brands to consider.

And finally, brand takeovers and Top Views may be better suited to brands with a larger marketing budget, since these exclusive placements encourage undivided attention.

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