Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tinder, and Spotify are running in-feed ads on TikTok, which is seeing more users on the platform since lockdown began.
Cross-platform campaign normally refers to an ad that runs on different platforms (such as TV, radio, digital, etc.), but with Facebook, Instagram and other popular social media platforms advertising on TikTok, the phrase has a whole new meaning. TikTok is home to a variety of ‘viral’ content. This includes videos of cute kittens, tweens dancing to popular songs, recipe videos, and now... ads from other social media platforms.
Ever since the Coronavirus pandemic began, most of the world has been under lockdown in a bid to prevent its spread. As most people were (and still are) homebound and getting 'bored’, TikTok’s popularity began to rise. By April 2020, The Verge reported that TikTok had reached two billion downloads worldwide. It’s not a complex equation – there are more eyeballs on the app, now that people are working from home, and have more free time on their hands. Other popular social networking apps seem to be taking advantage of this fact in a bid to draw more eyeballs back to their own respective apps. In April and May, we spotted ads for social networking sites Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Tinder. (Tinder is technically a dating and networking app, but it refers to itself as a geosocial networking and online dating application.)
All these ads had a very clear call to action – to get off TikTok and to go back to using the advertised apps. The attempt was to remind users of what they loved about the platforms through scrollable ‘in-feed’ ads that appeared in between user generated content.
However, TikTok has been doing the same thing. Recently, we spotted this TikTok ad on YouTube, during the height of the YouTube versus TikTok controversy.
Similarly, a Reddit user posted these TikTok ads on Snapchat a year ago.
In addition to ads for other social platforms, we also spotted ads for streaming services - another hobby that many users have turned to in light of the lockdown. A BARC Report illustrated that Hindi GEC in Urban Hindispeaking markets grew by 31 per cent. over the pre-COVID period whereas strong gains for movies and original series on OTT platforms continue on the smartphone.
TikTok acknowledges its role as an entertainer during the pandemic and recently launched its first TV commercial in the UK. It features celebrities and content creators popular on the platform.
The Drum reported that Jana Ulaite, head of brand and partnerships marketing at TikTok, said this about its new campaign: "This campaign is all about celebrating the fun and positive spirit of TikTok creators, to shine a light on the amazing content that we are seeing during these tough times. So, whether it is Grandad Joe taking part in the level up challenge, or even a dancing cat, we hope it shines a brighter light on the creativity of the TikTok community, and brings a sprinkle of joy to anyone who watches it."
For a report on how advertisers are using TikTok during the pandemic, Yuval Ben-Itzhak, CEO at SocialBakers said to Digiday, “On the advertising side, when you look at TikTok ads, the platform has a lot of supply and a relatively small demand when you compare it to Facebook. This means that brands advertising on the platform should theoretically get a broader reach at a smaller cost.”
A Digiday report on TikTok’s different ad products says that they are mainly of four types - brand takeover (image, GIF or video that displays when users open the app), in-feed video (less than 15-second video ads in the homepage feed), hashtag challenge (brand-sponsored hashtags) and branded effect (2D animated lenses).
The Digiday report was published in 2019 and says that the brand takeover ads cost $50,000 per day, with a guaranteed five million impressions. The in-feed ads are sold at $10 cost-per-impression, with a $6,000 minimum campaign spend. The hashtag challenges, on the other hand, are sold as ‘six-day’ packages that begin with a flat rate of $150,000 for 20-30 million impressions. TikTok’s in-house creative team is responsible for developing branded effects, and they cost $100,000. It’s clear that the visibility is coming at a deep cost to these social media platforms.
In India, we’ve seen brands like Dettol, Lifebuoy and Ariel use the short-format video platform to create awareness around their messaging. Dettol and Lifebuoy used a branded effect filter and Ariel used a hashtag challenge for visibility.
TikTok is working on developing its ‘brand effect’ filter further. It wants to include elements of AI into it to make it more interactive, similar to Instagram’s branded AR filters that allow users to interact with elements within the lens, adding special musical effects, too. Major advertisers like Puma, Dove, OnePlus and Maruti have used Instagram’s AR filters in the past in a way that is interactive with users.
Influencer marketing also forms a major part of TikTok's marketing strategy. It is testing a 'Shop Now' button that can be added to its video ads. Digiday reports that the button will allow creators to display the call-to-action button on their videos, and the ad revenue will be split between TikTok and them.