3 Things We’ve Learned Advertising on TikTok

Jon Chavez

Advertising on TikTok is a topic that comes up regularly in the tourism industry—whether you are attending an industry event, speaking with your industry peers, or seeing your customers watch videos in between tours. We wanted to share a few things we’ve learned about advertising on the platform this past year. 

But first, let’s take a quick look at TikTok’s growth rate and user base to understand the magnitude of the opportunity.

TikTok’s Massive Growth

For the third year in a row, TikTok held the number-one spot as the most downloaded app, with over 656 million downloads in 2021, and TikTok ads now reach 945 million adults over 18 each month, which equates to 1 in every 6 people in the world. 

Many of you may view TikTok as a platform for tweens and teens to share their dance moves, but there’s evidence that the TikTok user base is aging. A survey conducted by TikTok showed that 32% of global users are 25-34 years old. Another study showed that 37% of TikTok’s unique visitors had a household income of $100K or more. 

So if you’re wondering if your customers are on TikTok, there’s a good chance that at least some of them are—and if they’re not, they probably will be in the next year or so.

Three Quick TikTok Advertising Takeaways

We’re in the early days of testing paid TikTok advertising for a number of our clients. There’s probably a lot more we don’t know at this point than we do know, but we wanted to share three takeaways from our early efforts:

1) Spark Ads Are Effective

With Spark Ads, you can run content generated by influencers on TikTok, as ads on your TikTok business page. Influencers can generate a code that gives you permission to run their video (along with any comments, likes, and shares attached to the video) as an ad on your account. We’ve found this to be an effective way to jump start your paid TikTok engagement. Learn more about TikTok Spark Ads

One of our clients has gone all-in on Spark Ad partnerships with influencers. We’ve found that the clickthrough rate of those ads is more than double the clickthrough rate of standard video ads running from their own business page.

2) TikTok Is an Affordable Awareness Channel

We’ve primarily used TikTok as a channel to drive awareness and reach new audiences for our clients. And so far, the cost to reach new audiences on TikTok has been 42-57% more affordable than on Facebook and Instagram. That said, you have to be careful to not throw away money on TikTok—and this comes down to your targeting setup. Here are three tips for honing your targeting as you reach new audiences on TikTok:

1. Target hashtag engagement: TikTok allows you to target people based on hashtags used in the videos they’re watching. So if you’re an attraction in Chicago, targeting “#chicagorecommendations” may make sense.

2. Narrow your targeting by age and income: A common (and legitimate) concern that we hear a lot as clients begin to advertise on TikTok is that their audience won’t have any buying power. One way to mitigate this is to hone your targeting by age and income. Similar to Facebook/Instagram targeting, you can force the platform to only show ads in top-income zip codes, and by certain age ranges.

3. Target people based on their categorical engagement: TikTok lets you build audiences based on video engagement or interactions with other TikTok accounts.

4. Try automatic targeting: With automatic targeting, you still select your location and language, but after that, TikTok takes over and serves ads to people based on the objective of your campaign. For example, if your objective is add-to-cart events, it’ll show ads to the users most likely to visit your website and add your experience to their cart. We’ve had mixed results testing this, but it’s generally worth trying. 

3) User-Generated Content Is Essential

This won’t surprise you, but the ads that have performed best for us typically use authentic user-generated videos. We’ll often pair a simple voiceover or upbeat music with the footage to create an inspirational, spirit-lifting video that drives curiosity from potential customers. Our videos are typically in the 15 to 30 second range, and always incorporate music or some sound element. (TikTok, unlike Facebook and Instagram, is a sound-on environment.)

Is TikTok Advertising Right For Me?

If you answer yes to these 4 questions, you should strongly consider advertising on TikTok: 

  1. Is your target demographic on TikTok? Remember, use current TikTok demographics rather than your initial impression of the average TikTok user.
  2. Is there a fair amount of queries, hashtags, and communities that have some relationship to what you offer? For example, if you see a lot of content and engagement for San Francisco tours and trips, and you’re a tour company in San Francisco, there could be an opportunity. More competition, yes; but an audience too.
  3. Do you have the time and money to test a new platform? If your brand isn’t unusually tailored for the TikTok audience and popular topics, and if you have reason to believe that you’ve left some other established platforms untapped (like YouTube advertising), you may choose to invest elsewhere for now. But as you’re assessing your marketing priorities, remember that you don’t want to cede an entire platform to the competition, so don’t sit on this opportunity for too long. 
  4. Do you know how to set up conversion tracking so that you can see what your TikTok ROI is? (If not, don’t let that stop you for long. This is solvable.) 

We’re excited to test, learn, and grow as we continue to use this platform and figure out how to use its power for the benefit of our clients. 

Is your advertising providing a solid return on investment?

We’ve managed advertising for tour, activity, and attraction companies for years, and we’d love to discuss how we can help grow your revenue. Whenever you’re ready, let’s chat.

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About The Author

Jon Chavez

Jon manages paid social advertising for tours, activities, and attractions. He has a master's degree in integrated marketing communications. His secret talent? Singing. Serious, opera-style singing.

Email Jon

About The Author

Jon Chavez

Jon manages paid social advertising for tours, activities, and attractions. He has a master's degree in integrated marketing communications. His secret talent? Singing. Serious, opera-style singing.