Tag Archive for: tiktok

spark ads

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

spark ads

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! 

watching tiktok ads on mobile

We Spent $100k on TikTok Video Ads in 30 Days and Pulled These Benchmarks

watching tiktok ads on mobile

One of the challenges that aspiring TikTok advertisers and agencies often run into as they plan their TikTok Ads campaigns is benchmarking.

How do our results stack up against the industry or even just other campaigns we manage? How do we know if our TikTok ad campaign is successful compared to other campaigns?

Having benchmark data for other TikTok video ads could be incredibly valuable for determining just how effective your campaigns are relative to the industry. It could also give you an idea of just how much TikTok ads cost so that you can plan properly.

So we spent $103,368 in 30 days on TikTok ads to find out just what our internal benchmarks are. Let’s take a look! 

How We Pulled TikTok Ads Benchmark Data

To get benchmark data for our TikTok ads, we did it the good ole fashioned way. We rolled up our sleeves and dug into the data from our TikTok Ad Account. We took a sample of 9 partners across 7 industries and 33 campaigns. From there, we calculated aggregates of their KPIs for 30 days.

Keep in mind that this is an aggregate of data across a couple of different campaign objectives (Traffic and Conversions) and each client has different TikTok ad creative. So your individual benchmarks may look different depending on your chosen campaign objective and the quality of your assets. 

So… How Much Do TikTok Video Ads Cost?

Nailing down the answer to that question can be a bit tricky. As is with most things in marketing and social advertising, the answer is that it depends.

There are a number of different factors that influence the cost of your TikTok advertising efforts. Things like:

  • Ad objective
  • Audiences
  • Industry
  • Ad Placements
  • Ad format
  • Creative and Ad Text
  • Landing Page

In 2019, AdAge released a report that said TikTok ads could cost anywhere from $50,000 to $120,000. Across the Internet, the consensus on the first page of Google is that TikTok ads start at $10 per CPM.

If those TikTok ad costs feel expensive, there’s hope still. Our benchmark data showed a range of individual CPMs from $5.71 to $26.51. We saw CPCs in our TikTok Ads Manager as low as $0.90. So startups and scaleups can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that advertising on TikTok is possible even if you may not have a massive budget.

Average CPC

CPC or cost per click is a measure of how much it costs for a click on your TikTok ad. Low CPCs are every advertiser’s dream and it would mean that your ad is effectively driving traffic to your landing page. Influenced by a host of factors like targeting, copy, creative, campaign objective, and placements, driving down the cost per click can be a challenge.

Our individual CPCs from this dataset ranged from $.90 to $4.85. E-commerce partners definitely had the highest CPCs of all of our industries in the dataset. EdTech had the lowest average CPC with $.90.

tiktok video ads average cpc

Average CPM

CPM or cost per 1000 impressions is a measure of how much it costs to get your ads in front of your target audience. A higher CPM could be a good indicator that your audience is too narrow or too competitive.

The campaign objective you select will also influence the CPM of your ad campaign. When you run a traffic campaign or a video views campaign, typically you can expect the CPMs to be lower than if you selected a conversions campaign.

In our dataset, the average CPM was $12.85. Our lowest CPM came from the Business and Industrial industry with a CPM of $8.06. Our highest CPM came from the e-commerce industry with a CPM of $26.51.

tiktok video ads average cpm

Average CTR

CTR is a measure of what percentage of people clicked through to your website from your TikTok video ad. The combination of your video, your copy, and your targeting will influence your CTR. A high click-through rate is typically an indicator that you’re getting in front of the right people in your audience that are interested in your ad, and that said ad is strong and resonates with your audience enough for them to click it and visit the landing page!

In our dataset, the average click-through rate for our TikTok ads was .64%. Again the Finance & Industrial interests came out on top with a CTR of 1.03%. The technology industry had the lowest click-through rate at 0.26%.

tiktok video ads average ctr

Average Hook Rate

Ad hook rates (AKA thumb stop rates) are vital to benchmarking success on TikTok. They’re a reliable way to evaluate video ads’ performance. With TikTok hook rates, you can determine if your ads actually arrest the attention of TikTok users. The video ads hook rate is calculated by dividing 2-second video views by impressions.

The highest video ads hook rate came from the Technology industry with a rate of 26.91% Bringing up the rear was EdTech with a hook rate of 3.11%. The average hook rate was 13.99%.

tiktok video ads hook rate

Average Cost Per View

Cost per view as the name implies is a measure of how much each view of your TikTok ad costs. While an impression measures the number of times your ad was seen on screen, a view measures the number of times your TikTok video or video ad was played, excluding replays.

A higher cost per view could mean that your video creative isn’t appealing to your target audience.

Our average cost per view was $0.01. Our industry costs per view ranged from $0.01 to $0.03. E-commerce had the highest cost per view at $0.03.

tiktok video ads average CPV


Having this benchmark data in our back pocket is not only helpful as a TikTok Ads agency, but we can also share it with our partners who are considering advertising on TikTok to help them put performance into context. 

Even though several of the KPIs fall into a range, it still helps us figure out what costs we want to aim for and helps our partners know what they may expect when we get started. The best part is, the more partners that explore TikTok, the more data we have to continue to build upon our benchmarks and consistently update them so we can be working off of the most relevant data!

tiktok seo

TikTok SEO: What is it and how to rank

tiktok seo

In the last year, TikTok has proven it has the ability to get more powerful in the social media world, and now the search world as well. Even compelling Google to make statements about TikTok eating into their search market share

On top of that, after Google’s most recent core update, TikTok’s visibility in Google search went up 133%. Though this number is impressive, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to SEOs or folks who have been watching search patterns over the last 5-7 years. 

For the last several years, Google has viewed video as the up-and-coming search result for a majority of searchers. Google began improving its ability to crawl, understand, and index videos across the web. YouTube continued to gain more traction in the search market share as its very own search engine, paving the way for newcomer TikTok. 

There has been recent speculation of TikTok joining the ranks of search engines. It’s no surprise, considering they’ve been running their own ads encouraging users to use the search functionality in-app to discover restaurants, how-tos, and even jobs. 

Knowing this, it begs the question “do you need SEO to be successful on TikTok?” Let’s dive in and figure this out together. 

What is TikTok SEO?

TikTok SEO seems to be taking a very similar approach to general SEO with a focus on keywords and phrases. When using their search functionality to type in a keyword, you see trending variations of that keyword. Once you click to search, top ranking posts in certain topics will populate in order of engagement rates. 

Aside from the obvious similarities in search functionalities, even content optimization techniques (more on these in a bit) are being figured out by the everyday TikTok user. 

So, TikTok uses SEO?

There’s no doubt from the SEO community, it’s TikTok that hasn’t alluded to much about this. Through different TikTok-ers results, it’s safe to say that TikTok has SEO functionalities and it’s working for the users who take the time to do it right.

How do I optimize my content to rank on TikTok?

Through my research (*ahem* watching too many TikToks for my elder-millennial brain to handle), I found there’s a 3-tier formula out there that is doing the trick for those looking to nab ranks on TikTok:

  1. Text Overlay
  2. Captions + Hashtags
  3. Audio (yup.)


Text overlay

This is the text you see on the actual video itself. This happens post-recording in the editing phase. Folks who mention the appropriate target keywords in their overlay are seeing better results for visibility.

Captions + hashtags

This is definitely the most obvious optimization area. Peppering your target keywords into your caption along with hashtagging said keywords, will result in better visibility as well. 


Finally, your audio will have an impact on your ability to be more visible for a topic. You must have subtitle functionality turned on (which I recommend). When creating your video, make sure you’re saying the actual keywords (naturally, I hope). Once to the editing screen, turn on the captions and let TikTok scan the audio to produce captions on your behalf.

Let me break that last ranking factor down a bit more… TikTok has AI that will scan your audio to caption each word on your behalf. TikTok-ers who use this functionality will rank better for their videos. 

Similar to Google or YouTube, this functionality helping ranks could be due to 2 very important reasons: universal friendliness and more keyword signals. 

Oftentimes, search engines will favor content that is universally friendly to those with particular impairments that need other features like captions to consume the content. On top of that, captions and video transcripts are features that provide signals to search engines to crawl this content to better rank and understand what the video is about. 

This adds another interesting question: Is YouTube also ranking you by your audio? Though their caption functionality leaves something to be desired, it’s available nonetheless (I’ll save this for another time).

Performing TikTok keyword research

Luckily, you don’t need to learn some crazy new technique to perform quality keyword research for your TikTok SEO campaign. There are 2 simple ways to perform your TikTok keyword research:

  1. In-app
  2. Via Google


tiktok search

Much like YouTube, in-app keyword research is the most valuable way to see what populates for your keyword targets in terms of variations of the word as you type in the search bar and, of course, what results actually populate.

When performing keyword research in TikTok, take notice of variations and even test out natural variations used in your industry. For example, when doing research for this blog I might search TikTok SEO then variants like TikTok SEO Research or TikTok SEO Keyword Research etc.  

I would also be interested in combing through the top results to note things like the general content of the top TikToks and the language being used in the overlay, captions, hashtags, and audio. 

Via Google

If TikTok isn’t producing how you’d hoped (look at you, trailblazer) then performing keyword research via Google is a safe bet. 

You can do this through manual search by heading to Google and analyzing the SERPs of the keywords you’re looking to target. Take note of the questions being answered, keyword variants being used, and any gaps in knowledge you could fill. 

If you have the resources, this can also be done through trusted SEO tools like SEMrush or ahrefs. 

TikTok SEO strategies to implement

First and foremost, as you’re getting up and running on the platform make sure you optimize your profile as you would with any other social profile for your brand. This looks like a value statement or catchy one-liner and, of course, you must include a link to your website/store/etc.

Quantity + Quality

Well, here’s a first for this SEO, advising folks to boost the quantity of their content. Now, don’t get too crazy, the quality still matters but everyone has to start somewhere!

Being consistently engaging on the platform will help to boost your visibility and prove authority in your industry and over the keywords you’re targeting. It will also be a good sign to engage users who benefit from your content because they’ll know they can count on your updates and will continue to engage with you, only further boosting your ranks. 

Ultimately, get out there and give it your best shot, find what works or what doesn’t work, replicate the good and trash the bad. 

Newsworthy industry TikToks

If you’re in an industry that relates to a lot of newsworthy content, it’s time to dust off some hot takes. 

Younger generations are always looking for ways to be involved, but like to consume most of their content in the exact way TikTok serves it: bite-sized, informational videos. 

If the content presents itself, put yourself and your company out there by staying ahead of the conversation and talking about breaking news in your industry and your take on its impacts. 

This strategy will get you noticed, make you look like a valuable resource, and keep your brand name trending within your industry.


Going in a completely different direction, culture focused TikToks are a great way to show off your brand’s values, voice, and style. 

A great way to implement this strategy is to share in-office (or remote) sneak peeks around the day-to-day fun and community within the company or day-in-the-life videos to show how the ‘magic’ happens. 

Another great culture technique is to show off any philanthropic efforts your company partakes in as a whole. This is an impactful way to show the younger generations, who are driven by positively influencing the world around them, that your company ‘gets it’. And, it’s just a great way to encourage others to be involved as well!

Paid alignment, influencers, and partnerships

There’s a whole world of TikTok strategies out there for the taking. As you dive into creating campaigns, consider aligning the strategies of your paid efforts with your SEO efforts by covering similar topics and using the same keywords.

Other strategies to consider are tapping into the vast influencer bank TikTok houses or partnering with other brands that would make sense to help boost each other’s visibility and to gain new audiences as well. 

Great. Is TikTok worth it for me?

Generally, yes. 

TikTok is a growing presence, and even if that plateaus at some point, it’s a strong indicator that video content is the new king. 

Like any digital strategy, it will be worth the most bang for your buck if you go in with a strong strategy and an understanding for how you can work to see success on the platform. 

Plan your TikTok strategy by choosing to do TikTok SEO, paid TikTok campaigns, or both! Once that’s in place, line up a general content strategy and make sure to include creative. A major success factor for both TikTok SEO and paid TikTok campaigns relies on your creative. So, make sure you’re putting in the time and effort (and $$$).

If you’re ready to take the leap into the world of TikTok, or just need a little refresh of your TikTok strategy, we’ve got your back. Our savvy team of TikTok experts, creatives, and strategists are ready to help you get the TikTok ranks. 

TikTok Advertising Best Practices: How to Make Great TikTok Creative

In the past couple of years, TikTok has quick become one of the top acquisition channels for startups and established brands. The platform now has over 100 million monthly active users in the US and recently surpassed Google and Facebook as the most popular web property

On most channels, it’s relatively easy to repurpose your ad creative. With a few light edits, a Facebook ad can easily become a display ad or a LinkedIn ad. But on TikTok, each ad needs to be created specifically for the platform and getting it right is critical: you only have a few seconds to grab your target audience’s attention before they scroll past your ad.

So how do you make the right asset? How do you communicate your brand’s value proposition in less than 15 seconds? How do you create a diverse suite of low-budget videos in-house (with an intentional range of messaging, formats, creators, and styles) that you can test quickly and learn from? 

This article is here to help you answer these questions. I’ll cover the basic details for TikTok ad creative, including the length limits. Then, I’ll walk through several examples, some that we’ve produced in-house at Tuff for partners, to help outline why and how they work on TikTok. 

TikTok video length limits

Before you start planning your creative, you need understand the boundaries that you’re working in. At most, TikTok ads can be 60 seconds long, but it’s best practice for videos to be much shorter: TikTok themselves suggests videos be just 9-15 seconds in length

Length isn’t the only consideration when it comes to creating winning ad creative. Here are some other variables our creative team at Tuff considers: 

  • Resolution: professionally produced content tends not to perform well on TikTok. Instead, grab your smartphone and start playing around in the TikTok app creating videos – it’s fun, easy, and effective. 
  • Sound: TikTok is a music-first app, and the backing music you choose for your ads is super important. Select music from TikTok’s library – you’ll find trending music that helps your ad get discovered and also avoid any copyright issues that could see your account suspended. 
  • Subtitles and Text Overlays: including subtitles and text overlays is just as important as choosing the right music. That might seem counterintuitive, but many people watch TikTok videos on mute. Including captions or other text ensures you capture their attention. 

Five examples of powerful TikTok ad creative

Telling your story and communicating your brand’s value proposition in less than 15 seconds is not easy, even before considering all the limits above. But it’s absolutely possible, and if you can crack the code, TikTok can be a huge growth driver for your brand. 

Let’s take a look at five successful TikTok creatives and explore what our team has learned from them as we develop more and more TikToks for our clients. 

1. Soona

TikTok Creative Here

tiktok ad example

Insight: This ad concisely explains how Soona’s process works, walking the audience through the key steps in working together. It clearly states the problem Soona solves, introduces various products, and highlights the key benefits brands can get from working with Soona. 

Despite the fact Soona is a photography business focused on creating beautiful images, this TikTok video has a production quality that’s more in line with other videos on the platform, helping it to feel more like organic content than an ad.

What to Do: To effectively introduce your brand to new audiences, focus on defining the key value drivers you need to convey in a short video. Consider incorporating them into a “how it works” ad creative like this one – these help potential customers understand the process much better, removing any uncertainties and boosting conversion rates. 

2. Sesh

TikTok Creative Here

tiktok ad examples

Insight: This TikTok is created from the perspective of a Sesh user and shares what the experience of attending a Sesh is actually like. Shooting the ad from the perspective of the user helps your audience understand what’s involved in a Sesh, and the positive feelings that come from it: in this case, the feeling of getting a big hug. 

The ad also uses plenty of text overlay that summarizes all of the key points of the video. Emojis are included in every line of text to make the text more natural – it’s more like receiving a message from a friend than an ad from a business. The video finishes with a Call To Action (CTA) that clearly directs viewers where to go to learn more. 

What to Do: Turning the creative reins over to your users is a great strategy for creating meaningful TikTok ads that truly connect with your audience. Your most loyal users can express their feelings about your brand with real authority. This helps you connect with your audience and builds higher levels of trust through social proof. 

Don’t forget to make use of text overlays: these are crucial in emphasizing key points and ensuring you connect with viewers who are watching the video without sound. End your ads with CTAs that tell watchers what you want them to do next. 

3. Multiverse

TikTok Creative Here

tiktok ad creative example

Insight: This ad tackles a key concern that prospective Multiverse students might have before committing to a Multiverse apprenticeship. It uses a video format TikTok users are used to seeing elsewhere: a statement, followed by a series of text overlays that directly address that statement. 

This makes the video feel less like an ad, and more like a regular TikTok video – making your audience more likely to pay attention. The video is short, features music commonly used in other TikTok videos, and finishes with a CTA directing interested viewers where to go next. It’s a proven approach, helping Multiverse drive quality conversions at scale. 

What to Do: Pay attention to video formats that are currently trending on TikTok, and develop the ability to quickly create ads that leverage these trends to more effectively connect with your audience. In doing so, use all of the features available on TikTok: including text overlays and backing music.

4. Pizza Express

TikTok Creative Here

pizza express tiktok example

Insight: this ad, from British pizza chain Pizza Express, makes use of TikTok Spark Ads. When you adopt this strategy, you recruit influencers to create and post sponsored TikTok videos. The brand then boosts the top-performing influencer TikToks with ad spend, adding a link to the landing page. Pizza Express saw great results with this strategy: the ad received over 2.5 million views

This approach, also known as whitelisting, makes your TikTok ads seem native. Using popular influencers builds trust with your audience and outsources content creation to individual creators with proven TikTok creative skills and a built-in audience. 

What to Do: consider working with influencers who have a following that closely aligns with your target audience. Approach them to explore working together, and then use Spark Ads to boost their top-performing content toward a targeted audience. Don’t be afraid to let your influencers drive the creative direction of the ads – it’s likely they know better than you what will resonate with their audience. 

Start Creating TikTok Ads Today

You don’t need a big media budget or a fancy creative agency to start producing TikTok ad creative – all you need is a smartphone and some imagination. Producing winning creative holds the key to a successful TikTok marketing campaign, but you might not get it right the first time. 

At Tuff, our TikTok Ads team is constantly testing out new creative assets for our clients. If it doesn’t work, we’ll drop it right away, and keep testing out new ideas until we land on the winning formula. 

Got some TikTok ad ideas you want to try for your brand? Hit us up – our team of TikTok experts has the skills and experience needed to supercharge your campaigns.  

two women scrolling on TikTok

Want To Run TikTok Prospecting Campaigns That Convert? Try This! [Data Included]

What was once considered a platform for users to share silly, short-form videos that featured new dances and or lip-syncing trending audios in 2016 is now considered the top app for consumer spend in 2022. Not only does TikTok have over one billion monthly active users, but 67% of users say the app inspires them to shop AND it was the most downloaded app in 2021 and it’s expected to triple revenue by the end of 2022. 

What does this mean for your business? It means TikTok has A TON of potential and should be considered in your marketing mix.

But how do you build broad, prospecting campaigns that convert? As a growth marketing agency, we’ve tested on all of the major channels and TikTok has now become a core platform in the channel mix for almost every single client we work with today. 

TLDR, here are the do’s and don’ts of TikTok campaigns that convert:


  • Cast a wide net with targeting
  • Incorporate Spark ads 
  • Shoot videos raw, unfiltered and lofi 


  • Get too specific with your audiences
  • Be quiet (TikTok = Sound on optimized platform)
  • Forget subtitles and or text overlays 

When setting up a typical paid social campaign, you’d likely focus on a few variables, like the campaign objective, audiences, and creative. While aligning the campaign objective with your business goal and targeting an audience that is congruent with your product and brand are incredibly important pieces of the puzzle, creative can make or break your campaign. 70% of campaign performance on TikTok is rooted in the creative assets you use. Read that again. 

tiktok ad creative

Cast a wide net with targeting

That being said, targeting IS important; it’s just not AS important as your creative assets and that is because broader is almost always better when audience planning on TikTok. TikTok appeals to a variety of demographics, and it’s catching up to Meta in size. 

There are the typical options you would imagine, like location, language, gender, age and interest options. There are also some unique-to-TikTok targeting options, like interactions with specific videos, creators and hashtags! Combining relevant interests with interactions has been a winning strategy for us in the past. 

TikTok Ad Targeting

One of our partners, Sabio, has a broad target audience ranging from people who are interested in gaming to music lovers. Taking this into consideration, we tested segmenting out our interest audiences vs. combining them into one supercharged audience, and we saw our conversion rate skyrocket from around 5% to 24% and our CPA drop from $16 to $8.  

Combining these interests + utilizing their strong organic presence with Spark Ads helped us improve performance immensely.

Incorporate Spark ads 

Spark ads have changed the game by creating a powerful and unique way to boost organic content in your paid campaigns. What are they, you ask? They’re one of TikTok’s newer ad formats that lets a brand boost their own organic content. According to TikTok, Spark Ads have a 142% higher engagement rate and generate a 43% higher conversion rate than standard in-feed Ads. If the creative is produced specifically for TikTok and does not feel overly polished, Spark ads are a strong way to optimize creative in a way that feels cohesive when served on a user’s FYP. 

But do they actually convert? We have utilized Spark Ads in quite a few of our campaigns across different industries – eCommerce, B2B, Tech – and have found time and time again that they’re an incredibly effective and efficient way to push conversions.

We have been testing Spark ads for one of our partners, Joylux, to compare how they perform with standard in-feed ads. Analyzing the data after being live for around two weeks now, this ad format is serving more impressions, clicks and video views at a higher CTR with longer average watch times – All while generating more conversions. See the chart below for more specifics! 

tiktok spark ads

Beyond these paid KPIs that we look at when determining campaign success, paid metrics (such as paid followers, likes, comments, shares, and profile visits) were also much higher from the Spark Ads. This contributes to a higher engagement which in turn means that TikTok’s algorithm will push the video out more!

Spark ads can be used directly from your branded account or from an influencer’s account. Making your brand’s content feel like user-generated content and or using an influencer’s account to promote your brand automatically builds a foundation of trust with the audience by humanizing the brand and making the content feel less outright like an ad.

Shoot videos raw, unfiltered and lofi 

TikTok recently released a presentation highlighting their best practices for TikTok ad creative, and the recurring theme seems to be shoot your videos lofi and don’t make creative that feels overly polished.

I could not say it any better than Elle, one of the creative strategists here at Tuff, “Almost every single video looks like it was shot on an iPhone. And even the ones that were shot with nice equipment get some sort of filter or treatment that *suggests* it was casual or off-the-cuff.” (More helpful tips from Elle on that in this article about TikTok ad creative!) 

One of partners, Sesh, leaned into that creator-first, user-generated content vibe, and it really paid off. Our creative team here at Tuff created these two assets –  A Day in The Life + Group Support – that we tested against some other videos that felt more produced and polished. The results speak for themselves.

tiktok lofi videos

More impressions, clicks and video views do not always mean higher CTRs, longer watch times and more conversion volume. However, in this instance, it did. It is important to dive deep into these metrics as a whole to understand the audience on the platform and what speaks to them, ultimately driving them to convert.

TikTok trends, targeting capabilities and creative best practices are always changing, and we’re always testing and iterating. If you’re ready to start running TikTok campaigns that actually convert, give us a shout! 

two women scrolling on TikTok

TikTok Ads for Startups: How Multiverse Drives Quality Conversions at Scale (with a CPA lower than any other channel)

two women scrolling on TikTok

When it comes to driving more traffic and applications online with growth marketing, the big challenge is how to scale and which marketing channels will help you grow fastest. With limited time, money, and people, you can’t afford to waste it on strategies and tactics that are sub-optimal. 

When we first partnered with Multiverse (a start-up company that provides an outstanding alternative to college through corporate training and professional apprenticeships) as their startup marketing agency, we wanted to test different campaigns with clear metrics to figure out which ones work and then focus on scaling those channels.

In this post, I’m going to focus in our our paid social strategy, with a focus on a deep dive on TikTok ads. We’ll look at why we selected TiKTok ads, the campaign structure, the best performing creative assets, and the results compared to other channels in our mix. (Spoiler: TikTok generated 3x times more applications than Instagram with a 52% lower CPA.) 

Diversified Channel Mix 

In our growth marketing strategy for Multiverse, we prioritized testing campaigns with social ads and PPC. 

For social ads, we focused on Instagram as the primary channel where we allocated 67% of our total budget and then we dedicated a portion of the total budget (33%) to testing other social ad channels. With the Multiverse target audience being between the ages of 18-26, we were super eager to test TikTok to see if this channel would be effective in driving applications and if effective, if it would be scalable. 

Clearly Defined CPA Targets and Goals 

Our goal for Multiverse was to prioritize high-impact growth campaigns to quickly drive key learnings, then invest in additional campaigns to scale up on what works. Since Multiverse didn’t have a ton of historical data in the US for us to learn from, we did some research on competitors and the average costs for TikTok ads and Instagram ads to come up with our KPI goals. 

Instagram KPI goals (for the first month): 

  • Cost-per-click: $3.00
  • Cost-per-application (CPA): $65

TikTok KPI goals (for the first month): 

  • Cost-per-click: $2.00 
  • Cost-per-application (CPA): $80 

Identifying the Target Audience & Funnel Stage 

When launching campaigns for a new partner, our social ads team at Tuff will put together an audience targeting strategy for each stage of the audience funnel. However, since we were starting from scratch and building campaigns on new platforms for Multiverse, we knew we needed to focus on the top of funnel audiences since we haven’t built up the brand recognition or audience size to retarget users based on previous ad interactions through bottom-funnel audiences. 

For TikTok, our primary focus was targeting a large, top of funnel audience that we could then educate and convert to applicants through our video creative. 

A Campaign Structure for Scale 

For Multiverse’s US paid acquisition, we were focused on six markets, including New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, Phoenix and Boston. We knew we needed to drive as many applicants on TikTok as possible in each market, so we set up a prospecting campaign for each location, that way we could control the budget at the campaign level based on demand needs per market. 

Within each campaign, we wanted to test two different audiences on TikTok: 

  1. A broad audience with no interest targeting, ages 18-26 
  2. Education or motivation interest targeting, ages 18-26

After a few weeks of testing, we saw that the broad targeting was outperforming our interest-based targeting with a lower cost per application. Compared to other social ad platforms,  the TikTok algorithm is extremely accurate in serving your ads to your target audience (just think about how it perfectly curates a For You Page that’s specific to each TikTok users’ interest). So removing the interest targeting allowed us to widen our audience pool and let TikTok do the work of finding the users who were likely to apply for a Multiverse application based on the algorithm data.  

High-Peforming TiKTok Ad Creative 

When it comes to TikTok creative, videos that feature trending and relevant content are the key to success (check out our tips for creating trending video content). For Multiverse, we wanted to move QUICK, which meant that we needed to develop 3-5 TikTok videos fast to be able to launch on TikTok. 

For the creative, we wanted to lean into the Multiverse value props to educate our top-of-funnel audiences about Multiverse in a fun, trending and captivating way. 

Check ‘em out!

  1. Job without degree
  2. College vs. Apprenticeship 
  3. Student Loan Stress


So how did these TikTok campaigns perform? The short answer: we far surpassed our goals for applications and cost-per-application which allowed us to scale the monthly budget on this channel by 5x. 

  • Average cost-per-click (CPC): $0.47
  • Applications: 357
  • Average cost-per-application (CPA): $16.77

But how does this compare to the other paid channels (like Instagram)?

Channel CPC Applications CPA
TikTok $0.47 357 $16.77
Instagram $2.24 164 $34.71

TikTok generated 3x times more applications than Instagram with a 52% lower CPA. 

For Multiverse, we measure apprenticeship applications based on last-click attribution in Google Analytics, so while these results far exceeded our expectations, we also wanted to see how our campaigns have helped increase non-last click conversions. 

Since launching TikTok ads, we’ve seen a 110% increase in Multiverse Google Search branded conversions in the US. 🚀

Based on these learnings, we’ve continued to scale our TikTok campaigns and have found it to be the most cost-efficient paid channel driving the lowest CPA for Multiverse in both the US and UK. 

Are you interested in launching TikTok ads to help grow your business? Let’s chat! 

tiktok on mobile

How Much Do TikTok Ads Cost?

tiktok on mobile

Are you ready to explore advertising on a social ads platform outside of Facebook and Instagram? Now is the time for your company to test out TikTok, one of the fastest-growing social channels in the game. Two months ago, TikTok hit a major milestone in which the platform reported that it now has 1 billion active users on the app making it the 7th most used social ads platform.

However, there are a few things to consider when thinking about advertising on TikTok. First and foremost, it’s important to know if your target audience is even on the platform and if they are, if you’ll be able to successfully target them. Another important component of TikTok ads is creative. For this platform, having engaging video content is imperative for a successful campaign. 

As a TikTok Ads Agency, we start by asking yourself the following questions: 

  1. Does your target audience skew toward younger adults? 
  2. Do you have a robust library of short-form, great, and effective videos?
  3. Do you have a large, broad audience that you can reach with broad targeting? 

If you’ve checked all of the boxes to the questions above then you’re ready to start building your first TikTok campaign. In this article, we’re breaking down what it takes to run a successful ad campaign on TikTok and how TikTok ads compare in costs to other social ad platforms. 

TikTok Ads: Is It Worth It? 

Before you start thinking about an advertising budget for TikTok, you might wonder if TikTok is even worth testing. While TikTok might be known for its virality and trends from organic videos, its advertising opportunities have been proven extremely beneficial for companies in almost every industry, especially eCommerce. 

At Tuff, we’ve tested TikTok campaigns with a wide range of our partners, some in the eCommerce space and even some in the higher educations space. (Check out How we achieved a 12x ROAS on TikTok with $7K in ad spend for our client Sabio––an online coding bootcamp!) If you’re able to find pockets of success on TikTok, it’s a very scalable channel that can help bring in more revenue for your business.

How Do TikTok Ads Work? 

TikTok ads are less obvious to spot to the average user since they come off in a more organic nature compared to other channels like Facebook and Instagram. As typical with online advertising, TikTok Ads cost different amounts and exist in different forms. A user can view your ad in different places, which impacts the costs of your ad. If you decide to advertise on this platform, you can choose between a variety of different ways to run your self-serve newsfeed ads including Image ads, Video ads, Spark Ads, or Collection Ads which will determine where your ad is placed. 

Image Ads

Image ads run through TikTok’s newsfeed umbrella apps (BuzzVideo, TopBuzz, and Babe) and will include an image, brand or app name, and ad text.

Video Ads

Video ads will run through the platform’s newsfeed and/or the newsfeed of apps that fall under TikTok’s umbrella (again BuzzVideo, TopBuzz, and Babe). These are the most common type of format for self-serve ads as they will show up in your target audiences’ FYP (for you page). Video ads can be 5-60 seconds and can include a video, display image, brand name and ad text. 

Spark Ads

Spark ads is a newer feature that allows you to use a code and run the ad directly from your TikTok page or a partner/content creators’ page. This type of format is very similar to boosting a Facebook/Instagram post.

At Tuff, we’ve seen a lot of success with spark ads. For a few of our partners, we’ve run spark ads through a content creator or influencers page using the spark ad code and we’ve seen a significantly higher CTR, engagement rate and lower CPA. For example, in the table below, you can see a much better performance on TikTok once we started running spark ads in August vs when we were running regular video ads in April. 

Collection Ads

When using collection ads, someone taps an interactive element of your ad and it will lead to an Instant Gallery Page, where visitors can browse a curated gallery of product cards. You can either handpick the products to feature in your Instant Gallery Page or let TikTok Ads Manager dynamically display the most relevant products for each visitor. From the Instant Gallery Page, people can browse your catalog of products and then head to your website to complete their purchase journey.

How much do TikTok ads cost? 

Similar to other social ad platforms, you can customize the amount you spend and bid on ads. This means that TikTok ads cost different amounts from campaign to campaign. Typically, advertisers on TikTok pay a median price of $1.00 for every click and a CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) of $6.06. Keep in mind that this number is generated through a blended analysis of all advertisers, so this cost is not the case for every business. TikTok requires a minimum budget of $50/day at the campaign level and $20/day at the ad group level. However, there are four components that heavily impact the costs of your TikTok ads including your campaign objective, audience segmentation, budget & bid amount and CTR.

Campaign Objective 

Choosing the right objective is really important when setting up ad campaigns on TikTok. TikTok recommends starting by choosing an objective that will get at least 50 events during the first 7 days, which will allow TikTok to have enough data to get your ad out of the learning phase. Similar to other platforms, you will see lower CPCs and CPMs when optimizing for an objective that’s higher in the funnel (traffic, page view) vs. optimizing for a lower-funnel event (Checkout, complete payment), but the CVR will be higher when optimizing for the lower-funnel events.

Audience Segmentation 

TikTok’s algorithm is one of the best out there, so most of the time you’ll see lower costs when your audience is large and broad. In fact, TikTok recommends consolidating your audiences as much as possible and either putting all of your interests into one audience or running the ad group with no interest targeting and letting the TikTok algorithm do its thing and serve the ad to the user who will likely take the action you’re optimizing for. 

However, for some companies, audience segmentation is important and they need to focus in on a specific niche (EX: age or location parameters). If this is the case, you can expect to see a little bit higher of CPCs and CPMs than campaigns targeting large, broad audiences.

Budget & Bid Amount 

TikTok allows you to set a daily or lifetime budget at both the campaign level and the ad group level. When setting the budget at the ad group level, you can either use a cost cap or the lowest-cost bid. The cost cap will ensure that you will never pay higher than your bid amount for the particular action you’re optimizing for. However, if the cost cap is too low for the conversion cost, you might not spend your daily or lifetime ad budget. 

CTR & Creative

Last but not least, the most important factor to achieving low costs on TikTok is the ad creative. While TikTok users are typically more engaged in the video ad than users of any other social ad platform, the average CTR on TikTok is typically a little lower than the CTR on other social ad platforms. In order to maintain a healthy CPA, you’ll want the video CTR to be higher than 1% on your ad. Once the CTR starts to drop lower than 1%, your costs will increase, which is how you know it’s time to rotate in new creative.

How Do TikTok Ads Compare to Other Platforms? 

It’s always hard to get an apples-to-apples comparison on social ad platform costs since there are a lot of factors that go into the average, but when looking at CPCs and CPMS, TikTok is pretty comparable to Facebook and Instagram. 

Platform CPC CPM
TikTok $1.00 $6.06
Facebook $0.97 $12.57
Instagram $3.56 $7.91
LinkedIn $5.00 $6.59
Twitter $0.38 $6.46
Pinterest $0.70 $5.00

However, throughout all of the campaigns that we’ve run on TikTok at Tuff for a variety of our partners, we typically see a lower CVR from TikTok ads compared to Facebook and Instagram. So what does this mean you? If your target audience is on TikTok and you have the budget and creative needed to test on this channel, then it’s 100% worth the test and could be a very successful channel for your business. Looking for more tips on how to set up a successful TikTok campaign? Check out this article!

tiktok ads on a phone

TikTok Ad Examples: 7 Video Ideas That Work

tiktok ads on a phone

In just a couple of years, TikTok has risen from a niche social network to become one of the leading players in the industry, racking up weeks at the top of app download charts and passing 1 billion global users. That’s more than Snap, Reddit, Pinterest, and Twitter, and TikTok is even gaining fast on Instagram, which launched Reels, a similar product, just a few months ago. 

Understandably, growth marketers are desperate to incorporate TikTok to their brand’s strategy. But it can be difficult to know where to start. Not every TikTok ad agency has a team of in-house experts (Tuff does though, and Jack, McKenzie, David, and Kate are great!), and it’s hard to navigate an entirely new platform without support.

We covered the basics of running a successful TikTok ad campaign previously, but today, we’re going to focus on how to create high-performing TikTok creative. We’ll look at six successful campaigns, explore what made the creatives work, and share how you can apply these lessons to your own TikTok campaigns. 

We’ll share creative from huge brands like Chipotle and Burger King, as well as creative from a campaign we ran for Sabio, which delivered a huuuge 12x ROAS. Ready to learn how to make outstanding TikTok creative? Let’s dive in!

Chipotle & Roblox: Boorito Campaign

Every Halloween, Chipotle hosts their Boorito event, a long-running fan favorite promotion that offers discounted burritos to customers who come into Chipotle stores dressed in costumes. This year, Chipotle decided to do things a little differently, and partnered with Roblox to open the first virtual Chipotle location and launch the first ever metaverse burrito giveaway.

> Watch the Chipotle and Roblox Boorito TikTok

The campaign was anchored by TikTok creative that shared how fans could claim a free burrito from Chipotle. There was also a virtual maze, Chipotle themed Halloween costumes, special unlockable rewards and more. In a 30 second TikTok video, Chipotle and Roblox seamlessly explained how fans could claim a free burrito and experience the Roblox universe. 

Using TikTok creative to drive in-person visits to stores proved a huge success, with $1 million in burrito giveaways, huge exposure for Roblox and Chiptotle to high-interest audiences, and increased traffic to both the Roblox ecosystem and Chipotle stores nationwide. 

Sabio Coding Bootcamp with Tuff

You might think that TikTok ads are best suited to glossy consumer products in the cosmetics and fashion categories, but we’ve had success with all kinds of brands, including Sabio, an online coding bootcamp.

> Watch our Sabio TikTok Creative

Your creatives should mimic the style of other TikTok videos. Get this right, and your target audience shouldn’t even realize they’re watching an ad. Here’s a few best practices to keep in mind from this Sabio creative:

  • Add text overlays that highlight your brand’s core value proposition, but keep them brief.
  • Make it short and sweet – 10-15 seconds is the perfect length. 
  • Use background music that adds to the video – bonus points if the song’s currently popular on TikTok!
  • Feature real people, and add lots of color contrast to make text pop.

The results when we applied these principles to Sabio’s TikTok creatives? A 12x ROAS, with TikTok CPA’s coming in 62% lower than other paid acquisition channels. 

HP – #HPRadicalReuse

When you think of a brand with huge TikTok reach, HP – makers of computers, printers, and IT accessories – probably isn’t the first brand that comes to mind. But with their #HPRadicalReuse campaign, HP redefined what legacy brands could do on TikTok, inspiring millions of viewers to think about reusing everyday plastic items. 

HP partnered with Avery Cyrus, a TikTok influencer with more than 7 million followers, to produce a short ad showing Avery recycling plastic soda bottles to create planters. At the end of the video, Avery challenges her followers to share their creations, helping the campaign to spread far beyond the initial ad creative. 

The campaign reached millions of TikTok users, with the most popular creative pulling in more than 36 million views. Sometimes, it’s best to let influencers who know their audience drive the direction of your creative.

> Watch the #HPRadicalReuse TikTok with Avery Cyrus

Converse Chuck Taylor All Star CX by Obviously

Shoes don’t come much more recognizable than the iconic Converse Chuck Taylors. But when it came time to launch an exciting new shoe, Converse turned to TikTok. 

By working with influencer marketing agency Obviously, Converse was able to partner with 24 different influencers to launch their new shoe. The campaign used a variety of personalities, from skaters to artists, helping promote the shoe to diverse audiences. All creative told the Converse brand story and prominently featured the shoes in all kinds of hero shots. 

> Check out the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star CX Creative

When all was said and done, the campaign generated over 2.3 million impressions, delivering a 1,554% ROI and winning an award for the Most Effective TikTok Campaign at the 2021 Effective Digital Marketing Awards.

Fanbytes x Burger King

When it comes to fast food, there’s a lot of misconceptions out there, and with this campaign Burger King was keen to dispel them. But simply publishing an ad saying their burgers used 100% real meat wasn’t enough – the message needed to be delivered in a way that would resonate with their target audiences. 

Enter the Burger King Conspiracy Challenge, which featured amazing creative from eight popular TikTokers. Each influencer was tasked with dreaming up the most unimaginable conspiracies about the contents of Burger King’s burgers, and then refuting them by championing Burger King’s talking points to their audiences.

> Watch the Fanbytes x Burger King Campaign

The campaign delivered success, with an innovative format and support from multiple different TikTok personalities, each with their own audiences. This creative leveraged the trust between influencers and their audiences, underscoring the importance of harnessing influencers in TikTok campaigns. 

With 575,000 views in just a week, and a 16.8% engagement rate, the creative helped Burger King cut through the misinformation and highlight the best attributes of their food to important audiences.

NeoReach and DraftKings

As sports betting becomes legalized in an ever-increasing number of U.S. states, DraftKings, a leading operator in the space, is experiencing huge growth. That’s especially true at the start of a new NFL season, and with their #MakeItReign campaign, DraftKings were keen to take advantage.

The campaign leveraged 50 different influencers, and challenged each of them to create their own touchdown dance. Football fans loved it, with more than 34 million views, 400+ fan created videos, and tens of thousands of new followers on DraftKings’ TikTok account. 

The key to success? Letting influencers unleash their creativity to create winning creative that connects with each individual audience, while challenging their fans to create their own TikTok videos. DraftKings achieved a 1.83x ROI, underscoring the fact that not all creative has to be professionally produced – sometimes it’s best to let your influencers get creative. 

> Check out the Draft Kings #MakeItReign TikTok Campaign

Key Takeaways: How to Produce Great TokTok Creative

There’s plenty you can learn from the TikTok creatives we’ve shared here, but it’s also worth sharing some fundamental principles that you should keep in mind when developing TikTok creative for your brand.

Here’s some of our key takeaways:

  • Use the TikTok Creative Center: TikTok’s Creative Center helps you discover what’s popular on TikTok right now. There’s templates to help you create your ad, tools to help you add the perfect captions, and detailed breakdowns of high-converting ad creatives.
  • Lighting is Key: all great creatives have one thing in common: the lighting is perfect. Make sure your video is clear and well-lit – shooting at golden hour is your friend.
  • Leverage UGC and Testimonials: the more natural your creative seems, the better it converts. Recruit customers to talk about their journey with your product.
  • Use Native TikTok Text: this helps your ad look less like, well, an ad. Be sure to add color contrast to make your text stand out – we like to use a red background on our text.
  • Lean Into Trends: there’s always new trends popping off on TikTok. Share your brand’s take on them, but be quick! These trends are often fleeting, but catching them at the right time can be a major boost.

These principles will take you a long way, but as with all digital advertising, the key to success really lies in continuous testing. Start with at least three very different ads, and run experimental campaigns with smaller budgets to learn what works best. And have fun with it – TikTok is a great platform, and nailing your strategy will see huge returns for your brand!

Got some awesome TikTok ideas for your brand? Reach out and let us know – we’d love to help you make them a reality!

How We Achieved a 12x ROAS on TikTok with $7K in Ad Spend

phone using tiktok

Diversifying your paid social channels is the name of the game when it comes to social advertising in 2021, especially since iOS 14 rolled out. And any growth marketing agency like Tuff is testing TikTok, trying to find ways to make the viral video platform profitable for our partners.

We’ve managed thousands of dollars in TikTok spend for our clients, and we’ve seen a ton of success and growth opportunities on the channel, particularly for our client Sabio – an online coding bootcamp based in Los Angeles. (So much so that we had to pause campaigns for a bit because there were too many leads for their sales team to work. 🤓)

Like any new channel that a TikTok ad agency tests, we started small to make sure TikTok was going to be effective, and gradually increased our spend over a three month period. Numbers speak louder than words in most marketing conversations, so this blog post includes data from Sabio campaigns.

A little bit of background so these numbers have context: 

  • Sabio is an online coding bootcamp — our primary goal is to grow the number of qualified applications submitted on their site. 
  • Our primary KPI is Cost Per Application (CPA). 
  • We’ve ran ads on 8 different channels for Sabio – Reddit, Google, Bing, Quora, YouTube, Facebook & Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat! So we have a ton of data to compare channel performance.

The CPA on TikTok was 62% lower than the CPA on other paid acquisition channels.

When we first launched TikTok, we saw immediate success, with CPAs consistently in the $11-$16 range over the first few months. But I think we were all a bit skeptical over the quality of the applicants. 

To help keep a pulse on lead quality, we worked closely with the Sabio team to keep a pulse on how many TikTok applications were attending info sessions and enrolling in bootcamp programs. 

We did see that TikTok’s applications were slightly less qualified compared to Facebook, but the CPA was 62% lower, so it still made sense to continue to run ads on TikTok.

In fact, TikTok campaigns generated 448 total applications, and 7 enrolled students. With a bootcamp tuition of $12K, that’s $84K in total revenue, and a 12X ROAS.

Here are some of our biggest takeaways so far from TikTok:

High-Impact Creative is Necessary

If you want to see success on TikTok, you have to make sure you’re using creative that mimics the TikTok style that users expect to see when they scroll on the platform.

tiktok ad example

For Sabio, this was easy. They’ve already gone all-in organically on TikTok. They post several videos a week, and some of them have half a million organic view. 

Our top-performing ads played off of some of TikTok’s most viral video trends, with text overlays that speak to Sabio’s value props.

BUT if posting to TikTok everyday isn’t right for you, don’t let it deter you! TikTok ads could still work for you if your audience is on the channel. You can still create strong video ads without necessarily repurposing organic posts. Check out this article where we talk about some of our best creative tips for TikTok!

But is your audience on TikTok?

TikTok’s ad platform is still in its infancy, and like all other social ads platforms when they first got started, the audience target capabilities leaves us wanting more (much, much more). 

Before you add TikTok to your mix of social advertising channels, take a beat and ask yourself if your audience is ACTUALLY an active TikTok user, or if this is a shiny new toy and you’re jumping in without a real strategy. 

Not all audiences are on TikTok, and it doesn’t make sense for every single brand. But if we’re working with a B2C brand targeting users between 17 and 35 years old, TikTok’s probably going to be on our list of channels to test.

Sabio’s target audience is perfect for TikTok: 18-30 year olds who tend to be early adopters. Specifically, we targeted:

  • Users interested in Gaming (top performer!)
  • Users interested in Music
  • Users interested in Culture/Education
  • Users interested in Tech (top performer!)

At the time that we launched these campaigns, TikTok didn’t have a lookalike audience feature, and the number of applications on our TikTok pixel wasn’t quite big enough. But this is on our radar to test in the coming weeks!

Campaign Setup

Whenever we test new social channels, one of the first things we test is campaign optimizations. For Sabio’s TikTok campaigns, we tested conversion vs. traffic. 

While our traffic campaigns had insanely low CPCs (like $0.08), the quality wasn’t there. The conversion rates were abysmal, and we quickly decided that conversion campaigns were the clear winner. 

Note: That seems super intuitive, but you’d be surprised how many times we see traffic campaigns crush it on some of these secondary social channels like TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Day Parting

Within the first month, we noticed that our TikTok campaigns were spending the daily budget before 2 p.m., and we knew that our audience was likely active on TikTok at night. 

We tested running ads from 12 p.m. to midnight, and saw 33% lower CPAs compared to the original campaigns.

While TikTok was wildly successful for Sabio, it definitely hasn’t worked for all of our partners. No matter what campaign optimization tricks you have up your sleeve, TikTok will only work if you have the perfect audience + creative combo. 

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for spending a few minutes reading through my TikTok endeavors! I hope you picked up a thing or two to test. 

I’d love to hear how TikTok has performed for you! HMU with any questions.