The TikTok Testing Grounds

We recently sponsored a Virtual Forum with Glossy that was all about TikTok marketing strategies. While the forum was really tailored to fashion, beauty, and luxury brands, the insights surfaced by our Platform Partnerships Manager, Emma Henry, are applicable beyond the sphere of those specific industries. That can be summarized with this one quote:

“One misunderstood fact about TikTok is that it’s just for Gen Z – but everybody is on TikTok.”

And by everybody, we really mean everybody.

Hear it straight from Emma by watching the on-demand recap of our session below. 

But if you don’t have time to watch the full video, here’s a quick-hit breakdown of some key takeaways.

TikTok Really is for Everyone

Let’s first touch on that misconception Emma described above. 

Because Gen Z were early adopters of the platform, it’s easy to misconstrue their overwhelming presence as the only presence on the app. And while there is some truth to Gen Z’s outsized influence on TikTok, they aren’t the only ones engaging with it either.

According to Pew Research, Gen Z represents anyone born between 1997 and 2012. This means that as of 2023, Zoomers are between 11 and 26 years old. When you cross reference these ages with data on TikTok’s age demographics, the point Emma makes becomes illuminated. 

  • 20.2% of users are 17 years old or younger 
  • 23.9% of users are 18 to 24 
  • 25.2% of users are 25 to 34 
  • 17.1% of users are 35 to 44
  • 13.7% of users are 45 or older 

As you can see, approximately 44.1% of TikTok users fall into the Gen Z age bracket. That means if you are only using the platform to target younger demographics, you are alienating over half of all TikTok users. 

Yeah, you don’t want to do that.

The TikTok-ification of Video

You don’t have to be on TikTok to know what a TikTok-style video looks like. That’s because TikTok has effectively created their own style of social media video content: one that is authentic, creative, funny, and downright weird. This is what drew people to the platform in the first place, and what catalyzed the agility of other social platforms as they sought to bring their own version of the TikTok experience online. 

People want creative autonomy with the content they produce, and TikTok was the first to really give it to them. That’s why one of the biggest benefits the platform provides brands is the freedom to experiment with your content, while also allowing you to strike a more authentic, and less corporate, tone with your messaging. 

Other platforms may be better venues to show off more polished and premium video production – like Connected TV – but TikTok is so popular because it’s filled with bold, edgy, and interesting content that feels authentically created by someone just like themselves. That’s not a vibe you can easily establish with a glossy ad delivered while streaming TV content.

These user-generated aesthetics are important in the fashion, beauty, and luxury industries because it helps establish “social proof”, meaning consumers become more likely to purchase a product when they see it being worn or demonstrated by someone they can relate to in an ad. 

In other words, it helps them better “see themselves” in your product, which is why it’s a top platform for Fashion, Beauty, and Luxury brands.

Hashtags like ‘TikTok Made Me Buy It’ are also proof points for how powerful this specific platform can be for fashion, beauty, and luxury brands. It’s an important platform for product discovery, as consumers come to the app to hear raw and authentic thoughts coming from like-minded demographics to help them make a purchasing decision.

Test to Invest

Understanding the power of the platform is only half the battle. The other half is actually creating content that will resonate with your audiences. That’s where testing strategies come in handy.

Trends on TikTok get hot fast, but can burn out just as quickly, so testing allows you to stay up-to-date with your target audience’s interests, and experiment with new creative approaches that can surface insights you can utilize beyond the channel.

Testing allows you to pinpoint which elements in your ad are and are not resonating with your audience. This could include the overall concept of your ad, the messaging, or the CTA you use.

It also allows you to experiment with new creative approaches as well. Because TikTok is a platform where users like to get weird with the content they create, you can be just as weird and experimental as you test out visuals and messaging that you may not want to try first on another platform. 

And because of how ubiquitous and popular TikTok-style videos have become, it’s worth testing to see how a creative approach you used on TikTok can engage audiences on a platform like Connected TV. As Emma mentioned during her chat, “this means that brands can be building ads for TikTok first to test what tone of voice will resonate with their audience, what video style, what messaging, what will really push the needle and drive conversions on TikTok, and they can take those creative learnings and repurpose them on other platforms.”

Translating TikTok to CTV

As we said, TikTok is one of the leading channels where viral trends emerge, and that includes creative approaches to your video content. People even expect brands to get a little weird on their TikTok accounts (just look at the popularity of DuoLingo’s presence) so you should feel permission to test the boundaries and see how bold you can be – and then carry those creative wins to campaigns on other platforms.

What we mean by that is marketers can use TikTok like a look-book for creative approaches they may want to borrow for their own campaigns as they look to diversify their media mix.

But how do you translate that TikTok aesthetic into the native format of television advertising? You first start by reviewing the tone of voice you use in your messaging so it feels authentic. Striking a relatable tone TikTok users are familiar with can do a lot of the heavy lifting connecting these audiences to your CTV creative. 

The pace and duration of your ads are important as well. An enticing hook with quick cuts that drive a sense of urgency are all hallmark experiences of TikTok style creative that can be easily translated into a CTV ad.

However, the most noticeable technical difference between TikTok and CTV is the aspect ratio. 

The vertical, 9:16 aspect ratio that TikToks are in do not lend themselves to the standard 16×9 format of all television ads, which means you can’t easily repurpose TikTok ads on CTV without additional editing. 

There’s two ways to approach this technical problem:

  • The easy route (that you may have already seen before when watching streaming ads) is to add-in additional visual elements, like more on-screen text or graphic design to fill out the 16:9 frame.
  • The recommended route though is to plan the path from TikTok to CTV in advance. When you’re producing the actual creative, aim to capture all the footage your campaign will need – and that includes shooting the same concept in multiple aspect ratios so that you can test creative on TikTok, and then use the 16:9 version of that same winning ad in a CTV campaign.

Related: TikTok Video Ad Specs & Placements Guide

From TikTok to CTV (and Beyond)

Ready to learn more about why you need to make the moves onto TikTok (especially if you are in the fashion, beauty, and luxury industries?) Check out the full recap above, or scroll down to contact our team today to get started on your own TikTok testing journey.

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