What Are TikTok Spark Ads?

In June 2020 TikTok made the bold statement ‘Don’t Make Ads, Make Tiktoks’, cementing the social media platform as a new arena where old digital advertising rules don’t apply. The following year, in July 2021, TikTok launched their new advertising tool Spark Ads which they tagged as a “one-of-a-kind solution for brands to cement their presence with the community in a seamless, authentic way”.

But what exactly are TikTok Sparks Ads, and are they really as revolutionary and exciting as TikTok claims?

What are TikTok Spark Ads?

In a nutshell, TikTok Spark Ads seamlessly slot into the for-you-page (FYP), grabbing the users attention without outwardly appearing to be an ad. By sharing relevant content created either by the brand itself, or by leveraging user generated content (UGC), Spark Ads allow brands to tap into pre-existing connections, communities and trends.

The beauty of Spark Ads is that on first glance on the FYP they do not stand out as ads. Instead, they blend in as UGC meaning

that viewers on average spend longer viewing and interacting with the content.

By using Spark Ads, brands are able to increase their online presence on TikTok and engage with the community, creating new networks and customer bases while maintaining their authenticity and appearing on trend.

How do Spark Ads work?

As a Gen Z dominated platform, TikTok is crammed with creatives and influencers who are producing diverse, interesting and engaging content while maintaining a strong focus on authenticity and community. With over 60% of users saying they feel a sense of community while on TikTok, it is a safe bet that the audience for your product, service or brand is already there – you just need to tap into it.

As a generation who are more suspicious (or simply more savy) than millennials of traditional ads, and instead place their trust into content creators and influencers to filter out ‘bad’ brands and present them with ‘authentic’ vetted content, advertisers need to be wary of relying on old school methods.

Instead of competing with content creators for the users attention, brands can instead work with them by using Spark Ads, boosting UGC which aligns with their product or service while tapping into the creators network of potential customers and building up a reputation as an authentic, ‘on trend’ brand.

With nearly 84% of TikTok users having been convinced to buy a product after watching a branded video, and with 52% of users stressing their desire for brands to be authentic online, tapping into this UGC by using Spark Ads is an essential and simple way for brands to perform well on TikTok and strengthen their connection with their community.

Why should I use Spark Ads?

The quickest way to alienate yourself from your target audience as a brand on TikTok is by posting content which is out of touch, outdated and trying too hard. One of the reasons that TikTok is so successful, fun and engaging is that it is organic and trends within communities shift everyday. If, as a brand, you are taking too long to plan out your campaign and videos you run the risk of missing the height of a trend, and post when your content has become outdated and, well, cringe.

Therefore, as a brand you should take advantage of the skillset and knowledge of content creators by using Spark Ads to your advantage. By leveraging UGC which showcases your brand and is already performing well, you can piggyback on content which is already gaining traction, views and engagement. This not only allows you to connect with more users and build up a sense of community around your brand, but also often ensures that your brand is staying up to date and relevant with the latest trending sounds, challenges, dances and aesthetics.

By using Spark Ads, your brand is being presented as vetted, authentic content pre-filtered by a trusted source- the original content creator.

The success of Spark Ads is reflected in the stats. Compared to In-Feed Ads Spark Ads have a 134% higher completion rate, and a 157% higher 6-second view-through rate. Not only that, but research has shown that branded content is twice as memorable as display ads, hence should be an area of emphasis in the future of digital marketing.

Spark Success Stories

If you’re still not convinced about the value Spark Ads can bring to your brand, let us highlight one of the practices pioneers – the beauty brand Isle of Paradise.

Isle of Paradise, a 100% vegan and cruelty free beauty brand that specialises in self tan, utilised Spark Ads during their off season in 2020, with amazing results. By collaborating with a diverse range of creators – most of whom had already posted content on TikTok using Isle of Paradise Glow Drops– a suite of content was created and posted using the hashtag #WakeUpandGlow. By collaborating with established creators who already had a following to create new content, and by repurposing pre-existing content which aligned with the campaign, Isle of Paradise enabled Spark Ads which appeared on users FYP, which drove traffic to a third party retailer (Sephora) and boosted the sales of their product.

By using Spark Ads to amplify the #WakeUpandGlow campaign, Isle of Paradise enjoyed a 500% ROI, 45 million video views and a 68% increase in revenue per week compared to the prior nine weeks.

This wasn’t a one of fluke either, thousands of brands from Vessi sneakers to sports streaming services like Kayo Sports have leveraged this relatively new tool to boost engagement and sales. Why not give it a go in your next ad campaign?

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