TikTok has launched a new ad option which essentially enables brands to sponsor already trending organic content that aligns with their offerings, in order to get an association boost without having to create anything themselves, or even commission a creator to do so.
Sounds strange? Yeah, it is and it isn't. Here's how it works.
Through TikTok's new 'Spark' ad option, brands can identify existing organic videos that might fit their campaign - like, say, if a beauty influencer has showcased your product in his or her organic clips.
Brands can then reach out to these creators and re-purpose their clips for paid campaigns.
As explained by TikTok:
"TikTok is made up of creators who are redefining entertainment, starting trends, and sharing with the world their take on popular products and services. Brands can now tap into the plethora of creative, diverse content and connect with the creators who help bring these products and services to life."
Through Spark, brands can boost both their own organic posts and/or relevant content posted by creators, converting them into In-Feed Ads or TopView ads. And given that this is essentially boosting already strong performing content, it could be a great way to maximize brand reach and resonance, which could come in particularly handy for marketers that are less familiar with the platform and may not have the budget or skills for original material.
Aside from the obvious content benefits, promoted clips through Spark also enable brands to utilize TikTok's ad targeting tools, so it's not just reach that you can get, but also targeted focus, so you can hone in on your key markets.
"Additionally, brands can keep the fun going with Duet features enabled, making it easy for the community to build on the creativity. With Spark Ads, brands can build long-lasting connections that are authentic and rooted in community while also delivering sustainable and impactful business value."
So while, at first blush, it sounds a little strange to be promoting organic, unbranded videos, it actually makes a lot of sense in many cases, with a new process for highlighting relevant content to maximize reach among the TikTok user community.
And as TikTok continues to expand, many more brands are now considering how exactly they can do just that. The challenge with TikTok marketing is that you can't just re-purpose content from other platforms or ad campaigns, as TikTok has its own presentation style, its own creative ethos, and if you don't tap into that, your promotions just won't catch on.
There's a reason why TikTok keeps telling brands to 'make TikToks not ads', because the promotions that work best are those that align with what users are already seeing in their feed, so that they can consume your brand messaging in alignment with the rest of their on-platform experience.
Short video promotions are already difficult, as you only have a brief moment to grab attention, and people only need the slightest excuse to swipe on by if it's not working for them. Given this, it's important to spend time learning TikTok before you consider your ad options, by scrolling through your feed, and taking note of what's gaining traction, which will then inform your own approach.
Or you could just promote existing clips that may already be touting your products. In this respect, Spark ads could be a major boost for many brands, and while it won't ft all strategies, there could well be a place for it in your planning.
You can learn more about TikTok's 'Spark' ads here, where you'll also find case studies of brands who've used the option.