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7 Rules for Advertising on TikTok, We Flip the Script

TikTok represents an entirely new creative canvas for brands with a wealth of new marketing opportunities. The platform’s formats are different; its conventions are different; raw, zany and authentic work best. TikTok is about unvarnished creative expression.

Here’s our guide to how TikTok is breaking all the old short-form video ad rules.

You must land the brand within the first three seconds


Received wisdom says you need to land a brand and any key message in the first three seconds of a short-video ad. But that doesn’t apply on TikTok.

TikTok’s full-screen vertical, sound-on format offers marketers a multitude of new ways to land their brand. Sonically, with music, audio and sound effects, or visually with people or bespoke 2D, 3D and AR branded effects.

The beauty of creating a TikTok is it’s much less buttoned-up than an ad. A TikTok taps into the fun and irreverence at the heart of the app’s community – using the codes and styles of the platform’s native content to slot seamlessly into their world.

By making TikToks, a brand’s message appears alongside all the other content in a person’s ‘For You’ feed without disrupting their experience.

Always design for sound off 


With TikTok, the advertising industry can finally build for a mobile, sound-on environment. All videos can be created with music, audio effects, voice-overs, and other reactions, which first-mover brands are learning how to make the most of – exploring different ways to marry sound and visuals on the platform. 

TikTok is not a passive experience, it pulls people in. Unlike traditional sound-off video ads, a TikTok utilises the platform’s fully sound-on format to the utmost, maximising connection and delivering superior engagement. 

To make this easier, the TikTok Commercial Music Library allows brands to access a pool of thousands of pre-cleared, royalty-free tracks sourced from emerging artists and top-tier music houses to use across their creations. Brands who lean into the creative potential of sound on TikTok always reap the rewards.

Gen Z and millennials have a short attention span


This audience does not tolerate insincerity, inauthentic content, or lacklustre disruptive ads, people come to TikTok to be entertained. Brands must entertain audiences if they want to win and hold their attention, and making TikToks is the single best way to do this.

The community genuinely interacts with content that enterians, as the huge numbers of comments, shares, and click-throughs on the platform attest. The average engagement rate on TikTok in the UK is an incredible 14.7%.

Gen Z and millennial audiences, especially, can become so engaged and inspired by a marketing campaign on TikTok, that they'll build and launch their own commercial for a brand – for free. The platform facilitates co-creation on a global scale. Thus, an advertising campaign that initially had just five executions can turn into thousands or even millions. People keep participating in the work, often after flight dates are complete, adding enormous value for brands on the platform. 

Brands will always have to compete with other content 


With its full-screen ad formats, brands are not squeezed alongside other assets or distracting elements, they fill the entire frame. TikTok ad offerings like TopView epitomise this, capturing people’s total attention the moment they open the app with a full-screen takeover. 

TopView Ads guarantee brands millions of views over 24-hours, with a 100% share of voice producing incredible brand awareness and engagement results. In-Feed Ads place a brand’s content directly into a person’s ‘For You’ feed, meaning it always receives their full attention. 

A brand is never in competition with anything else on screen. Traditional issues around where a brand shows up, ad blockers, or its proximity to controversial content, do not apply on TikTok. 

Bank on high video production costs


You don’t need big budgets to succeed on TikTok. Expensive video shoots and high-end production values are not required to win audiences and land your message. All TikTok asks of brands is that they start exploring the platform and join in like any other member of the community. Liberated from the usual advertising restraints, brands can start with almost nothing before scaling up their ad spend in any way. Creativity is king.

The most successful content on TikTok is always the most relatable, which is invariably made by its community and Creators. By taking note of trending hashtags, popular filters, sounds, visual effects, music, and editing tricks, a brand can see what is winning the hearts of its target audience and use TikTok’s extensive suite of in-app tools to create accordingly.

Using the visual vernacular of the platform (which is born out of the community's  playful use of its in-app creative tools) rather than the ad world, a brand can quickly connect with and engage millions in a very short space of time.

Chase followers and likes if you want to be discovered 


TikTok prioritises good content. One of the things that makes TikTok so unique is that it runs on a content graph, rather than a social graph. 

In layman’s terms, it means the videos people see are not limited to those created by the people they follow or their social spheres. Instead, the TikTok algorithm serves content based entirely on people's interests and the types of videos they like. The platform actively works to make sure your brand’s content is only viewed by those who will like it and are most likely to engage with it.

Thanks to an interface optimised exclusively for discovery, TikTok enjoys extremely long session times and consistently high engagement rates. People only ever see the kind of content they enjoy. 

A brand that creates entertaining TikToks aligned with the interests of its target audience vastly increases its discoverability thanks to the platform's unique interest-based algorithm. 

Lean-back vs lean-in viewing?


The TikTok experience demands attention. This is jumped-in viewing, utterly captivating – serving up a constant stream of immersive sound-on entertainment from around the world. Whether it’s singing, dancing, lip-synching, transitions, pranks, tutorials or hashtag challenges, it keeps people involved.

TikTokers don’t just watch videos; they take it, rip it apart and rework it. It’s the first platform where people can genuinely talk back and become part of a brand’s message. And that makes for a far richer, more involved conversation than ever before.

Great work on TikTok reflects the natural flow of this conversation, it is an act of open-ended co-creation with the platform’s community. Brands can breathe a little easier here and take more risks, they don’t have to be perfect. TikTok is a platform to try things out and learn what works with the community’s help. 

Great ideas are born on the platform.

Get started today… 

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