Do Spark Ads Get Better Results on TikTok? (Yes, but it’s Complex)

With Facebook getting more challenging by the day, many advertisers and marketers are turning their attention to advertising on TikTok. It seems like every day there is another statistic about how TikTok is growing into a massive platform for not just Gen Z but Millennials and older generations as well. 

Hours are spent scrolling through the feed as the algorithm cranks out content to keep its users glued in the uncomfortable yet addicting scrolling position. With such an effective attention trap, it should come as no surprise that advertisers, small businesses, and startups are eyeing the potential to put their ads in front of TikTok users.

While TikTok is still young, and its advertising platform is even younger, it boasts unique targeting options that may appeal to advertisers that have struggled to find their target audience on Facebook. So naturally, the next question is, “What’s the secret to making TikTok ads work? What makes a good ad on TikTok?” 

As a growth marketing agency, we’ve managed hundreds of thousands of dollars on TikTok this year and leaned on real insights and learnings to outline the information below. Let’s dig in! 

What type of ads work best on TikTok? 

A common mistake is thinking that a social media app is a social media app, and if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Many advertisers assume this for many reasons: Creative limitations, the similarity of the advertising platforms interface, the similar language, and that they’re all paid ads. This thought is a mistake.

As cliché as it may sound, no two advertising platforms are alike. Every social media app and advertising platform is different. They have unique features and unique users with varying behaviors. As such, each one has different strategies, tactics, and creative assets that work.

TikTok is no different. Do a quick google search on TikTok creative best practices and you’ll stumble on a myriad of well-crafted articles that tell you that the best TikTok ads are ads that feel like TikToks. It should come as no surprise then that TikTok has developed its own organic TikTok ad of sorts called Spark ads.

What is a spark ad? 

Spark ads are a new-ish ad format allowing advertisers to boost organic content by using organic posts as ads. Just like organic videos, users can comment, like, and share Spark ads. Unlike normal TikTok video ads, users can even click the handle name or profile picture of the account associated with the Spark ad. It’s almost like they’re organic posts because they are! There are two different ways to run spark ads:

  1. By using your own TikTok account that has been linked to your business account
  2. Using an authorized account or using authorized posts

For more information on using your own linked TikTok account visit this link.

Do TikTok Spark Ads work?

The best TikTok ads are ads that don’t feel like an ad at all. They feel like a native TikTok that the user is seeing as they doom scroll through the app. Maybe that’s why Spark ads have been extremely successful in a variety of different uses since they were introduced.

We had the chance to test Spark ads with one of our partners, Teachable. Initially, we ran the Spark ads alongside our normal creative in the same ad set – Eventually moving the Spark ads to their own ad set, as TikTok’s algorithm allocates spend differently between assets.

The results were wild! In our testing, Spark ads beat our normal TikTok ads in nearly every category. For context, we saw:

  • The CPC was $1 lower with Spark ads than with our normal ads. 
  • The cost per lead was 30% lower with the Spark ads compared to the normal ads.
  • The number of times our videos were played at 100% of their duration averaged 22% with our Spark ads vs. the average of 6% with our normal ads. 
  • The average watch time per person was also up by a whole second.

How We Pick Spark Ads at Tuff

When it comes to picking out what will make for a good Spark ad, there’s no perfect secret- sauce. There’s a bit of tacit understanding involved in knowing what’ll perform well. We’ve managed to capture some of the questions we typically ask when we’re evaluating organic TikTok videos for use as an ad.

 6 Questions We Ask When Selecting Spark Ads

  1. Does it feel like a TikTok?
  2. Is there text on the video?
  3. Does it use a trending sound?
  4. Does it use a trending style?
  5. How much engagement (social proof) does it have?
  6. Does it have a clear CTA

Does It Feel Like A TikTok

The type of creative that works on TikTok is UGC content that feels both authentic and like it’s native to TikTok. In fact, recent research reports that 92% of consumers trust UGC more than traditional brand ads.

So choose a video that feels less like an ad and more like a TikTok you’d want to watch.

Is There Text On The Video

Copy matters! And that includes the text on the video. Even though TikTok is a sound-on optimized platform by default, captions and words on the video help users quickly get the gist of the video and improve ad recall. 

Words can also strategically lure the viewer in further. To avoid getting too behavioral science-y, we can just leave it at: When someone views your Spark ad, they look at everything, and not just the video or product in a vacuum. What experience do you want the viewer to have when they see your ad?

Does The Video Ad Use A Trending Sound?

The sound you choose for your video is important. Using a trending sound might not be super important when it comes to reach for an ad like it would be for an organic TikTok post, but it is still important to your ad converting people effectively.

A trending sound could help your Spark ad, again, feel more native to the platform. As users scroll, they’ll recognize your sound and spend more time watching it as a result. This will increase your odds of converting. This leads us to…

Does Your TikTok Ad Use A Trending Style?

Your TikTok ads, especially your Spark ads, should ideally be entertaining but they should also be authentic and built to convert. That’s where trending styles like “TikTok made me buy it” or “Top X Hacks That Actually Work” come in.

Tapping into the trending styles will help make your ad relatable and entertaining to the users.

How Much Engagement Does It Have?

When choosing a Spark ad, looking at the number of views on the organic post could be an indicator of how well it performed organically. Just because something didn’t go bonkers as an organic post doesn’t mean it won’t kill as a Spark ad. 

That said, looking at the engagement when qualifying the posts could tell you what’s already working so that you could amplify that.

Does The Ad Have A Clear CTA?

Without a call to action, a Spark ad is just a boosted post. The purpose of an ad at the end of the day is to convert. Make sure your Spark ad has a clear CTA to tell users what to do next so that they don’t just swipe to the next post.

Even with these guiding questions though, there’s still no perfect way to know what will work. 

Remember that people don’t come to TikTok to look for ads. They come to scroll and be entertained or learn or laugh. So your ads should fit next to the content they want to see. The best way to make a TikTok ad that looks like a TikTok is to just make a TikTok. That’s what Spark ads are.

We’ve tested a lot on TikTok across our different partners from different bid strategies to new objectives to specific-to-TikTok audiences to new ad types – With that, we’ve learned a lot! If you’re interested in diving deeper into the world of TikTok, here are a few additional articles we’ve written that might be helpful for you: 

Want to skip straight to running some TikTok campaigns with us? Let’s chat!