Advertising 8 Min Read

TikTok’s Virality Vies for Advertiser’s Attention, But How Does it Prove Itself as a Performance Marketing Channel?

Written by Melissa Yap

If you’ve caught onto the virality of TikTok, you’re not alone – those infamous 15 second dance moves are pretty catchy. With almost half of the app’s user base being aged 18-24 year olds, it’s safe to say that TikTok is a playground for Gen Z’ers. Its endless scroll of bite sized videos makes it easy for users to get hooked. Brands are quickly taking note and experimenting with the platform as an advertising channel, however one question remains – how effective is it for advertisers, really? 

The Dangers of Diving Into Uncharted Waters

TikTok has yet to prove itself as a performance marketing platform, as most of its success is derived from its top-funnel, branding capabilities. Industry publication The Drum, reported that brands need to be willing to put a lot of investment without guaranteed rewards on the platform – around the ballpark of an average CPM of $10.

Every performance marketer knows that engagement metrics alone aren’t enough to prove the success of a campaign. TikTok’s ad rankings are known to weigh heavily on engagement metrics like dwell time and shares, so brands who choose to advertise on this channel aren’t getting a full picture of their campaign performance beyond the surface level. This has always been a challenge for social media platforms. Furthermore, TikTok has a reputation for being very liberal in counting views – possibly counting every cycle of a looped video as an individual impression. Note, this is not the first time a social media platform (sorry Facebook) has come under fire for a loose interpretation of metrics

Performance Takes the Steering Wheel

Many platforms like TikTok put brand awareness at the forefront for the wow factor, which is well and good for brands whose goal is to create a buzz. TikTok favors engagement metrics, and since it is a video based platform, it also reports on video views and profile views. However, where and how it connects to performance and bottom line figures is questionable. Why trade off one for the other when you can have both brand impact and ROI in one? 

SteelHouse Performance TV prioritizes results – brand awareness is an added bonus (and a pretty strong one thanks to our Living Room Quality feature, which ensures your ads run on television screens and deliver the biggest impact they can). It focuses and optimizes on direct-response performance goals like ROAS, site visits, conversions, and more. Performance TV prioritizes the actions users take after seeing your ad.

Any data that ends up in our platform is first vetted for accuracy. Take our integration with Google Analytics (GA) for example, which provides an overview of how your Connected TV (CTV) ads are performing against your other digital marketing channels, like search or display. Our Cross Device Verified Visits proprietary attribution model gives credit only when it’s due – so a user would have to first view a CTV ad to completion and then consequently visit your website, in order for this data to be logged in GA.  

Targeting: A Triple Threat Trio

TikTok’s targeting capabilities are limited – advertisers can target based on geographic location, age, gender, OS, device type and high-level interests – but nowhere near the level of precision of other advertising platforms like Connected TV. SteelHouse partners with leading data-provider, Oracle Data Cloud, to access over 40,000 third-party audience segments. Whether it’s targeting based on demographic, customer behavior, high-value customers or a mix of all of these – we have it covered.

What about retargeting? TikTok allows advertisers to upload the IDs of existing TikTok users and remarket to them that way, but this is limited to platform users, who tend to skew to a younger audience. SteelHouse Performance TV lets advertisers retarget any way that suits them – either to television screens, display or mobile. It’s truly a multi-platform, multi-device solution.  

Teetering Over Brand Safety Lines

Unfortunately, it’s not all fun, games and trending dances on TikTok – like many companies built off a  user generated content model, brand safety seems to be a prevalent concern. The Financial Times exposed moderation problems citing evidence of violence, hate speech, sexually explicit and bullying. The company is also facing a national backlash and ban for its suspect use of customer data. Connected TV advertising isn’t under this same scrutiny, and shields advertisers from data privacy concerns. We only pair CTV content against 125+ premium brand-safe TV networks that have been curated for their ability to drive performance. 

The Endless Scroll Effect

Advertisers are already faced with challenges when trying to engage a user. This is more pronounced with TikTok, whose ‘endless scroll’ nature means brands must quickly grab the viewer’s attention in the very first few seconds of the ad before they scroll onto the next. In short, brands have a 50/50 chance of their ad being seen. TikTok’s doesn’t offer as much flexibility for advertisers, as its ad units are restricted to vertical video with sound-on as the only option – and they’re skippable. 

SteelHouse Performance TV offers a premium brand experience that extends beyond the television screen and across to other devices and platforms. Here’s how it works – a CTV ad will be served on (and only on) the biggest screen in the house, followed by related display ads across their other devices like their desktop and mobile phone. This keeps your brand fresh and top of mind as users go about their day, to give them a gentle nudge in the right direction (your website). All conversion metrics, among 900+ others, are accounted for in our reporting interface, which is entirely customizable.

If you’re considering TikTok as your next digital advertising channel, consider the trade off between branding and performance. SteelHouse allows you to achieve both, all on a single platform. Want to get to know us a bit better? Get in touch with us here.