TikTok

Advertising on TikTok: Pros and Cons You Should Know

What are the pros and cons of advertising on TikTok? With so much hype, brands want to know if TikTok ads are actually effective. Below we dig into benefits, drawbacks and considerations for brands.

woman taking a picture with a makeup palette

Is advertising on TikTok worth it? If you’re on the fence, you’re not alone.

As more brands go all-in on TikTok, there’s so much hype behind how well the app's ads perform. In fact, the platform's ad revenue is projected to jump as high as $37 billion within the next four years.

Woah.

From sponsored posts and influencer campaigns, TikTok advertising offer brands a ton of creative freedom. Not to mention the ability to transform your creator content directly into TikTok ads.

Still, investing in social ads on a (relatively) new network is always daunting. 

Below we break down the pros and cons of TikTok advertising to help you decide!

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Pros of Advertising on TikTok

Cons of Advertising on TikTok

How to Decide if TikTok Advertising Makes Sense for Your Brand

3 Ways to Advertise on TikTok Without Running Paid Ads

Pros of Advertising on TikTok

To kick things off, let’s look at the big-picture positives of running TikTok ads.

When Done Right, TikTok Ads Don’t Feel Like Ads at All

TikTok’s own mantra of “Make TikToks, not ads” is core to running ads on the platform.

In other words, branded videos should resemble organic content (hint: “real” videos).

Thankfully, the many types of TikTok ads give brands endless opportunities to produce ads that feel like native posts. 

For example, sponsored posts and hashtag challenges are perfect for incorporating creators. Doing so injects a much-needed sense of authenticity into your TikTok advertising strategy.

That's exactly why so many brands are transforming influencer content via whitelisting on TiKTok.

trueclassic ad example lull ad

Source / Source

The platform empowers brands to create the least “salesy” ads possible. 

The good news? Creative freedom doesn’t mean sacrificing business performance. 

Research from TikTok themselves notes that creators boost ad engagement in a big way. This includes longer watch times, more conversions and greater brand recall.

TikTok Ads Are Served Seamlessly With Organic Content

How sponsored posts are served is one of the biggest advantages of TikTok advertising.

Rather than interrupt users, most TikTok ads are presented on the “Following” or “For You” feeds. Ads can seamlessly pop up in your audience’s feed as they’re scrolling through content. 

Translation? There’s no glaring difference between a TikTok ad and an organic post. This yet again points to the value of TikTok advertising campaigns that resemble creator content. 

plushimania ad nectar sleep tiktok ad

Source / Source

Video selfies. “Storytime” videos. How-tos and tutorials.

All of the above are fair game for effective TikTok ads.

Branded content should resemble the genuine, trendy videos you see on the platform daily. Many advertisers actually note a performance boost by moving away from "polished" ad creatives. This also explains the high performance of creator-based Spark Ads vs. non-Spark ads.

tiktok creatives tweet 2

Source: Twitter

TikTok Advertising Instantly Expands Your Brand’s Reach

Brands often struggle with organic social reach and engagement — TikTok is no exception. On the flip side, recent data says that small creator accounts earn the most engagement on the platform.

Getting your brand directly in front of tens of thousands of relevant TikTokers is easier than you might think. This is especially true if you run ads by or featuring creators. 

Why? Because established creators know exactly how to show off products in action.

tiktok feed example

Source: @sarah_novio

This results in viral, high-engagement ads that promote your product in a meaningful way.

sponsored tiktok example

Source: @sarah_novio

TikTok advertising tactics like branded hashtag challenge ads are another example of how you can leverage a creator’s established audience. This also goes hand in hand with creating the seamless, organic TikTok experience we mentioned earlier.

After all, the TikTok algorithm tends to favor posts with consistent engagement. By running ads that earn interactions from users, you can boost your exposure through established creator content.

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Cons of Advertising on TikTok

Of course, paid social campaigns are far from foolproof. Below are the potential downsides of paid TIkTok campaigns.

TikTok Ads are Easy to Ignore (If They Aren’t Relevant)

Recent research notes just how many consumers go out of their way to avoid ads.

But TikTok advertising actually presents a unique disadvantage versus other types of paid ads.

That is, ads on TikTok are really easy to gloss over. They aren’t in-your-face.

The scroll-heavy nature of the platform makes its ad presentation both a blessing and a curse. Swiping away is second nature unless your ad grab viewers ASAP (hint: videos featuring people can do the trick). The effectiveness of TikTok advertising is totally dependent on creatives

Anything you can do to grab serial scrollers and stop them in their tracks is a plus. This again explains the popularity and effectiveness of creator-based TikTok campaigns.

Paid TikTok Ads Aren’t Getting Any Cheaper

From pricing to privacy issues, Meta’s ad network has plagued marketers for years.

So, is TikTok the cost-effective advertising alternative people have been begging for?

Depends on who you ask.

Pricing is a barrier to entry for any social ad platform. Likewise, one of the big disadvantages of advertising on TikTok is rising costs.

Sure, TikTok ads are typically less expensive than sponsored content on Facebook or Instagram.

tiktok ad affordable tweet

Source: Twitter

Of course, factors such as your audience and industry will ultimately determine how much you’re paying for a TikTok campaign. As the platform booms in popularity and its ad network proves itself, paid posts aren’t going to get any cheaper.

tiktok ad spend tweet

Source: Twitter

For reference, TikTok ads require a daily budget of $50 USD (and $20 per ad group). 

If your goal is conversions, consider also that TikTok recommends an upfront investment to determine how to best serve your ads. The platform refers to this process as the “learning phase.” Ads need to reach at least 50 conversions before they “pass” the test.

Does this break the bank versus other social ads? Not at all. This price tag still represents a barrier to entry for smaller, up-and-coming brands that want to test the waters.

Advertising on TikTok Can Be a Significant Time Commitment

Chances are you know that running social ads is never a passive process. TikTok is no exception.

TikTok requires advertisers to be very hands-on in producing and updating ad creatives. This echoes recent advice by Meta that speaks to how creatives make or break social ads.

Even after you vet your ads internally and pass TikTok’s learning phase, optimizing your campaign is far from over. You still need to cycle out, test and optimize your creatives. That means producing fresh content, writing new captions and managing even more resources.

And so you can see how TikTok advertising can eat into your schedule if you aren’t careful.

tiktok creative tweet

Source: Twitter

Also, content that performs well on TikTok is apples and oranges versus other platforms (minus Instagram Reels). Rarely can you double-dip your ad creatives from Facebook or Instagram and expect them to perform. 

That said, the exception to all of the above is if you're running Spark Ads.

TikTok themselves note that Spark Ads result in higher ROAS, greater ad engagement and conversion rates. This explains why brands are scaling their creator campaigns to earn more ad-worthy UGC.

In this case, all you need to do is obtain a creators' ad code and your campaign's creatives are already taken care of. 

How to Decide If You Should Be Advertising on TikTok

Here’s the deal: Investing in any ad platform is a commitment.

And it’s a commitment that you need to justify given the time and legwork involved.

There’s no shortage of TikTok advertising success stories out there. Building awareness and driving product sales are totally possible for brands big and small. 

moms worse than you 1

We’ve seen firsthand how brands and creators go viral and drive sales via short-form video. For example, this series of posts made by a Statusphere creator for Workman Publishing earned millions of views and thousands of comments from TikTokers.

moms worse than you 2

The question of whether TikTok ads are effective depends on a variety of factors.

Here are the key questions to consider as you weigh the pros and cons of TikTok advertising:

  • Do you have a “visual” product? From fashion and fitness to food beauty, TikTok is dominated by CPG brands. These industries are prime for TikTok ads because these products are easy to showcase in videos. For example, makeup can seamlessly be presented as organic content via tutorials, how-tos and reviews. It’s no coincidence that CPG brands on TikTok boast massive communities of creators and influencers.

  • Is your target audience there? TikTok is the network of choice for Gen Z and younger consumers at large. If your target audience has spending power on the platform, testing the waters of advertising on TikTok might be worth it. This is especially true if you've succeeded with social ads elsewhere.
  • Do you have the resources and budget? This is the big one. The minimum $50 daily budget provides an opportunity to test the platform but may be difficult for smaller brands to scale. Also, remember what we said earlier about needing to constantly cycle out creatives? This is a significant investment by itself.
  • Do you have defined goals on the platform? From brand awareness to sign-ups and sales, it’s crucial to tie your TikTok ad campaigns to actual business outcomes. 

Ideally, you should already be promoting your brand on TikTok before diving into paid campaigns. If you can establish an engaged presence organically, running ads is a natural next step.

How to Advertise on TikTok Without Traditional Ads

Food for thought: 67% of TikTokers say the platform inspires them to shop (even when they weren't looking to).

This signals a huge window of opportunity for brands to attract shoppers organically or even without paid campaigns.

divoom post

Source: @divoom_official

To wrap things up, let’s look at TikTok adverting strategies that don’t require you to run ads.

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Promote Your Products on TikTok Organically

There are plenty of effective TikTok campaign ideas for brands on tighter budgets. This includes:

  • Videos featuring employees or team members showcasing your products 
  • Announcements, teasers and hype videos (see below)
  • How-tos and product-centric educational videos (think: makeup tutorials)
  • “Did You Know?”-style content (think: life hacks featuring your product)
  • Memes, skits and challenges that feature your product
  • Republishing videos from creators and customers who’ve tagged you

urban decay launch hype

Source: @urbandecaycosmetics

Curate Customer Content That Shows Off Your Products in Action

As noted earlier, TikTok content from everyday creators is what tends to pop off. Your own customers are likewise the best and most creative when it comes to highlighting your products.

To set your TikTok account up to get more user-generated content to republish, consider:

  • Promoting a dedicated TikTok hashtag where customers can tag their videos (see below)
  • Regularly reposting user-generated content yourself (to encourage more of it)
  • Consistently respond to comments and create Q&A-style content based on them

For example, Pull&Bear features a community hashtag in their TikTok bio and encourages people to share their latest purchases.

pull and bear tiktok bio

Source: @pullandbear

Thing is, encouraging and sourcing customer content is tough when you’re not totally established on TikTok. That actually leads us to our last point!

Partner with Proven TikTok Creators to Promote Your Products

Remember: not all advertising on TikTok has to happen through their ad platform.

And as we said earlier, creators go hand in hand with higher ad engagement.

More interactions. Longer watch times. Greater awareness. 

There’s a reason why the best brands on TikTok put creators front and center. Creator-based campaigns provide a meaningful way to present your products to new customers. 

By default, growing creators are already up-to-date on the latest trends and tactics that drive engagement. Those high engagement rates translate into more eyes on your products.

We’ve seen how creators make it happen firsthand. For example, check out this TikTok from a Statusphere creator that drove 365,000+ views and 32,000+ “Likes” for Ole Henriksen.

ole henriksen creator post

Source: @m.elici.a

This represents the next-level creative content brands can earn from experienced TikTokers. For brands that want the best of both worlds, combining influencer campaigns with TikTok whitelisting and Spark Ads is definitely the play.

Thinking About Advertising on TikTok? Make Sure Creators Are Part of Your Strategy

If you’re eager to grow your TikTok presence, paid campaigns may seem like the way to go.

Pros and cons of TikTok advertising aside, just note that traditional ad campaigns aren’t the be-all, end-all of expanding your reach.

Again, TikTok creators are prime for engagement given their authenticity and ability to show off products in action. For brands that want to bring their products to life beyond flat lays and slideshows, TikTok influencers can make it happen.

The key is to partner with TikTok creators at scale. The more people that post about you, the more content you have to run via Spark Ads. Likewise, a high volume of posts about your brand can boost your TikTok SEO and help your brand rank for relevant terms.

If you help with all of the above, Statusphere's micro-influencer marketing platform can help. Our software matches brands with vetted creators from our network using 250+ first-party data points.

Statusphere targeting

Since our creators' content has content rights baked in, you can use the posts you earn in your TikTok ads without negotiating or playing the waiting game. We've already generated over 75,000+ pieces of authentic content on behalf of 400+ brands.

Want to learn more about how our software works? Get in touch with one of our experts to learn how our platform can save you up to 98% of the time you'd spend scaling creator campaigns yourself.

This article was first published in October 2020. It was last updated March 25, 2023.   

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