Trying TikTok Spark Ads: Our Experiment and Insights
As TikTok extends its user base, it is no surprise that this growth attracts significant numbers of advertisers. Through the continuous advertising features effort, in July 2021, the platform enabled TikTok Spark Ads property—which lets brands boost posts from their own page or directly from influencers’ pages.
What Are Spark Ads?
In TikTok’s own words, “Spark Ads is a native ad format that enables brands to leverage organic TikTok posts and its features in their advertising. This unique format lets brands publish ads:
- Using brands’ own TikTok account’s posts.
- Using organic posts made by other creators – with their authorization.”
The format is already well-known—as a matter of fact, you might know them as “boosted post” and “branded content,” but on other social platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Related: Advertising your mobile app in multilingual countries with Facebook
Differences Between In-Feed Ads and Spark Ads
TikTok ads appear in-feed when users browse their “For You Page.” They might last up to 60 seconds (but 9 to 15-second clips tend to be the “ideal balance”). TikTokers may interact with these advertisements by liking, commenting, and sharing. These ads, on the other hand, can be bypassed.
Instead of starting from scratch, Spark Ads allow advertisers to promote their present TikTok videos. These advertisements, like In-Feed ads, look and feel like natural content. This is because they are shown in-feed without disrupting the scrolling experience.
But nonetheless, unlike In-Feed ads, Spark Ads can redirect to a TikTok account rather than simply a landing page. Viewers may go directly to the original poster because these advertisements are linked to a legitimate TikTok account.
Related: TikTok App Profile Page: Our Test and Things You Should Avoid
TikTok Spark Ads Campaign Goals
With TikTok gaining a stronger competing positioning against Facebook, the extension of its advertising features, resembling the Social giant, was a natural step in attracting more advertising budgets.
The Spark Ads feature is available on the following campaign objectives:
- Reach (Reach as many users as possible without optimizing for installs or conversions)
- Video Views (Get as many video views as possible without optimizing for installs or conversions)
- Traffic (Get as many clicks as possible to your landing page without optimizing for installs or conversions)
- Conversions (Optimize for desired events -only available for Web Conversions at the moment on TikTok)
- App Installs (Optimize for App Installs)
Moreover, supporting the launch of this new feature, TikTok mentioned that on Spark Ads (Auction), other brands had experienced the following lift:
- Video view metrics: 58% increase on 2s VTR, 66% on 6s VTR, and 30% on Video Play Over Rate compared to non-Spark Ads
- Engagement metrics (Beta): 170% increase in paid comments%, 100% in share%, and 222% in likes% compared to non-Spark Ads
- Conversion metrics: 42% increase in immediate CVR compared to non-Spark Ads
- Cost metrics: 35% decrease in 2s CPV, 39% decrease in 6s CPV compared to non-Spark Ads
The results of TikTok’s experiments looked incredibly promising. Like anything else in marketing, growth is driven by testing, so we have decided to give it a try while running campaigns for one of our partners and promoting their app on TikTok.
Spark Ads TikTok: Our Experiment
To get a good grasp of how Spark Ads could benefit our partners’ growth strategy, we tried both options of Spark Ads.
Video Choice: We chose the best-performing video (used in other performance-based campaigns on TikTok) and boosted it from both our partner’s brand profile and the influencer’s profile.
Objective: The campaign objective was set to “App Install”
Duration: 3 weeks
Side Note: Considering the limitations that the SKAN has had on conversion data on the ad level, we had to consider other metrics (KPIs) in assessing whether Spark Ads was a success or not for our partner. So, the metrics we analyzed were the ones below.
1. Enormous Lift in Followers and Likes
Compared with our historical data, over the 3-week period, Spark Ads brought almost 250% more followers and a 150% increase in likes. However, strangely enough, the ads didn’t result in an increase in post shares and comments.
2. High CPM (cost per mile) / CPC (cost per click)
Although we had a good lift on likes and followers, it appeared that the TikTok Spark Ads CPM and CPCs of the video from the influencer’s own profile skyrocketed. While our historical data for CPM stood at €0.80 and for CPC at €0.14—Spark Ad resulted on average at around €1.2 CPM and €2 CPC.
However, when looking at the video boosted from our own brand profile, both CPM and CPC remained within acceptable/decent figures.
3. Increase in Average Watch Time and Profile Visits
Another two exciting engagement KPIs we analyzed were: average video watch time and profile visits. Following the test, we noticed a significant lift in both metrics. In detail, we noticed that the average watch time improved by 20%, while paid profile visits improved by 45%.
Related: A/B Testing in ASO: An iterative approach to growth
Conclusion: A New Product Can Lead to New Opportunities
Spark Ads is the newest advertising asset available for advertisers on TikTok. In addition, our test showed that brands could gain some significant increase in visibility, but we couldn’t find a direct link to an increase in performance.
It is worth mentioning a couple of limitations to this experiment:
- Due to Apple’s SKAN, we were limited to in-app events and individual cost per install for each ad format—cutting out the most critical metrics in a performance-driven environment
- The test was performed in a non-high season for our partner, which could have affected some metrics that didn’t necessarily see an increase
It goes without saying that further extensive tests are needed to label the Spark Ads solution a success or a failure. At REPLUG, we believe that testing new channels and solutions is at the basis of creating new opportunities for our partners and, sometimes, identifying what someone would call a “blue ocean.”
Interested in testing TikTok ads to scale your audience and result on a performance-driven basis? Get in touch with us.
Should I Use Spark Ads on TikTok?
TikTok Spark Ads are ideal for companies still determining their app ad budget since they allow you to enhance your strongest organic content. Because you’ve previously tested the content with your present audience, it is among the most efficient mobile marketing ad methods.
What Do Spark Ads Look Like?
Spark ads appear to be the same as ‘normal’ in-app content. That is what makes them so great. When app ads appear in the feed, many social media users immediately scroll past them.
How Do I Set up Spark Ads?
To launch a spark ad, navigate to the Dashboard area, click the Create Ad button, and then select Custom Mode. You will be able to select from the following goals: Advertisements auctioned for Reach, Engagement, Video Views, Traffic, App Installs, and Conversions.