With 100+ million monthly active users in the United States alone, TikTok boasts a huge audience for brands that are looking to maximize reach. If your brand is considering TikTok Spark Ads, the platform’s new paid ad format, you will most likely have to do a revamp of your current marketing strategies. Existing traditional content just won’t cut it on TikTok. Here’s why.
TikTok tends to be raw—meaning there is a heavy focus on authenticity. Compared to the curated feeds of Instagram, TikTok users don’t really have to worry about creating polished content.
It’s all about being their own unique selves and letting their creative juices flow. The same principle applies to brands who want to advertise on TikTok. After all, TikTok’s advice for businesses goes like this: “Don’t make ads. Make TikToks.”
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Brands are encouraged to showcase their authentic selves
The intense levels of engagement in the TikTok community have gained the interest of marketers for all the right reasons.
Up until recently, businesses investing in TikTok ads have been taking the user-generated content (UGC) route. Primarily because these ads have the authentic and raw vibes that gain traction on TikTok.
Brands also partner with influential creators to start conversations and trends on TikTok. Creators post organic content on their profiles with a dedicated hashtag to help boost a campaign or gain awareness for the brand.
Of course, brands choose to leverage the popular content and run them as ads to reach higher levels of engagement.
Now with TikTok’s latest feature, it’s even easier for brands to maximize content from influencers. They can directly use a content creator’s organic post as an ad.
Enter, TikTok’s latest creation—Spark Ads, the ultimate game-changer. Brands should start looking into it right away, so we’ve summarized all the important information about it in this one-shot article.
What are TikTok Spark Ads?
TikTok Spark Ads are a native ad format on TikTok that enables brands to leverage organic posts that are already trending. It gives brands 2 choices when publishing ads:
- Using their brand’s own TikTok account's content
- Using organic posts by other content creators on TikTok (with their authorization)
Spark Ads are the next big thing when it comes to TikTok advertising strategies. It gives brands a boost even if they don’t create the ads themselves or ask influencers to do so.
Basically, TikTok continues to be a haven for content creators as Spark Ads allow brands to leverage user-generated content (UGC) easily.
Spark Ads presents new opportunities for brands to level up their presence, start conversations, and build stronger customer connections—all without doing the ad creation themselves.
Here’s how it works.
For example, a beauty brand came across an organic post by a creator that demonstrates a skincare routine featuring their brand. The brand can reach out to the original creator and ask permission to use the organic post as either an In-Feed Ad or TopView Ad.
Check out this TikTok of Hannah Schlenker trying on different Aerie outfits. This post led to 700,000 searches for the product on Aerie’s website and a 200,000% increase in Google searches.
Aerie continued to use paid ads to drive more conversions. With Spark Ads, Aerie can get authorization from Hannah and this already trending post into an ad.
Why should brands leverage TikTok Spark Ads?
To understand why TikTok Spark ads are valuable for brands, it’s important to emphasize that TikTok UGC content performs better compared to other ad formats.
No wonder brands incorporate as much UGC into their paid social strategies—and this includes collaborating with influencers to create high-quality UGC ads at scale.
Spark Ads occupy the middle ground between organic content and advertising. The format and features blend in smoothly with TikTok’s interface so they don’t come across as ads at first glance.
Here’s why your brand should look into TikTok Spark Ads as the future of social advertising:
- Your brand will generate better performance results. Of course, this is the first and number one benefit. It all goes back to how Spark Ads are native and blend in easily with the TikTok vibe. So they also perform better than other ad types. In fact, data from TikTok shows that when Spark ads are used, there is a boost in video views, engagement, and conversion metrics.
- The impact on the market is for the long term. Did you know that when an organic post gets turned into a Spark ad, the paid video views are added on top of the organic video views? This makes the video even more popular in reach and visibility.
Plus, a Spark Ad drives users to the poster’s profile instead of a landing page. This is a great opportunity to grow your brand’s community and fanbase on TikTok, which is the kickoff point for stronger relationships and succeeding touchpoints.
- You’re taking advantage of content that’s already trending. This means you’re already working with proven content. Boosting popular content is a fast and great way to maximize the potential of your brand’s reach. This will also be a great tool for marketers who are not yet familiar with TikTok ads or startups who may not have the resources to produce original material.
Aside from these content benefits, TikTok’s ad targeting tools will serve you well. It’s not just the expanded reach you’ll be getting—but a targeted focus to help you hone in on your target market. That way, you’re reaching online users who fall under your avatar or target customers.
Promoting organic, unbranded videos may seem a bit strange and new to professional brands. When you think about it, it makes sense—especially on a platform like TikTok that celebrates realness and life as it is. There’s no better way to show your target market how your brand can fall into their lifestyle.
How do TikTok Spark Ads work?
One of TikTok Spark Ads’ best features is how brands get to see the type of UGC that is generating traffic and engagement. It saves a lot of time for testing and verification. Before, you would need to go in blindly as you publish an ad and monitor its results. Based on the results, you optimize your ads and test again.
With Spark Ads, you get to choose posts that are already doing well. All you have to do is to amplify its reach even more.
While there are similarities between TikTok Spark Ads and Facebook’s Branded Content Tool, they differ on several levels.
With Facebook’s Branded Content tool, influencers with verified profiles can tag the brands they are featuring in their organic posts. The brand can then promote the content and put money behind it.
While this Branded Content Tool does serve its purpose, there are still some limitations when it comes to how marketers can optimize the content:
- Instagram Branded Content ads are limited to “boosting” the post. This is another way of saying that you can only optimize Branded Content for engagement. This is measured by reactions, comments, and shares.
This is a bit of a letdown. You can’t optimize it for conversions, video views, clicks, and other objectives like you can with Facebook Ad Campaign objectives
TikTok Spark Ads, on the other hand, can be optimized for reach, video views, engagement, traffic, and conversion.
- Audience targeting is limited. Ads implemented using the Branded Content Tool are limited to the brand’s audiences as well as interest-based audiences created through Facebook.
Conversely, TikTok Spark Ads can continue to run as organic posts—leveraging both the audience set by your brand as well as the influencer’s audiences. This helps in further amplifying the content both on paid and organic views.
- Influencers must approve the posts first. Brands can only promote posts that influencers have already approved for you with FB’s Branded Content. So when you create an ad and click on the “Use Existing Post” feature, you will see the list of available content posts and stories you can sponsor.
For TikTok Spark Ads, creators need to turn on their “ad authorization” and allow videos for promotions. They also need to generate a video code to share with advertisers. However, if your brand is already collaborating with creators via the TikTok Creator Marketplace, you can just synchronize posts from the marketplace to your ad manager faster.
Your Step-by-Step Guide on Setting Up Spark Ads
You’ll find a comprehensive guide on the official TikTok Ads website. But just so you’re not overwhelmed, here is a simplified version.
Let’s say one of the content creators you partnered with posted a great TikTok featuring your product and it’s starting to go viral! To turn this into a Spark Ad, you need an authorization code. So you’ll have to get in touch with the creator.
Here’s what the creator needs to do:
- Select the video to be promoted.
- Click the three dots below the “Comment” button and select Ad Settings.
- Toggle the Ad Authorization field to “On” and agree to the terms and conditions.
- Click on Generate code. Copy and share the code with you, the advertiser.
Here’s what you need to do on your end as the advertiser:
- You receive the authorization code from the creator.
- Log into your TikTok ads dashboard. Click on Assets and select “Creative”.
- Select the “Spark Ads” tab and click “Apply for Authorization”.
- Paste the code the creator sent you in the text field and click on “Search”.
- You’ll see the TikTok video. Click on “confirm”.
- Create a new campaign and ad group for monitoring purposes. Also, CTRs are often usually higher compared to ads from a brand’s page. This is an additional testament to the power of UGC.
- Once you’ve created your campaign and ad group, click on “Create” at the Ad level.
- Toggle the switch from “Create New” to “Spark Ads”.
- Choose the post you plan on using from the library.
- The caption automatically copies the one from the creator’s organic post, but you’ll need to select a CTA button and a link to your landing page.
Note: If your brand is already actively collaborating with creators via the TikTok Creator Marketplace, you can simply synchronize posts from the marketplace to your ad manager account. No need to generate and apply the video code manually!
The whole process is seamless and definitely not rocket science—especially if you already have working relationships with specific creators and influencers.
When you do, you can work on a schedule so you can agree on the time of posting and when they’ll share the authorization code with you. If you don’t have a solid pool of dependable content creators for your brand, you can use platforms like Insense to find your match.
Pro tips for your first foray into Spark Ads
Working with TikTok Spark Ads is not just a simple switching of ad formats and ad types. It involves a change in mindset on how you approach advertising on this platform.
It’s not just about clicks
Becca Sawyer, TikTok’s Global Head of Small Business Solutions emphasized this in an interview from Social Media Today. She said it’s a common mistake she sees in brands all the time. They are stuck in the mindset that the last click is what matters, that it’s what you’re aiming for.
But the thing about TikTok is this… It’s an engagement platform where people join conversations because they want to be part of a story.
Brands must “think TikTok first” show up authentically and cement their presence in organic conversations before they can see results. On TikTok, engagement is often perceived as a more valuable metric than the final click.
Build a story, create a narrative
Don’t just join an existing conversation. Step up and start a new one.
Connect your brand with a movement, a stand, a specific lifestyle, and be open to insights of all kinds. It’s going to be an exciting experience for you as well as you get to know your target market on a much deeper level.
Of course, don’t forget to use a hashtag, and don’t forget to let your creators know about this guideline. That way, when you turn their posts into Spark Ads, the hashtag stays.
Invest in efforts to engage
It’s important to be aware of events that you can maximize.
For example, Kayo Sports, the Australian sports streaming service wanted to leverage Bathurst 1000 since it was the most popular race of the reason.
So they created a lot of TikToks during the race—fans celebrating, action shots, and a lot more. They captured the festive atmosphere of the race that day. Then, they used Spark Ads to promote their most popular Bathurst 1000 videos targeting specific interests and behaviors to reach users who are most likely interested in sports.
This whole campaign effort reached over half a million sports fans in a single day. Their Spark Ads achieved a 2,760% lift in engagement compared to those that weren’t boosted.
Working with content creators is an ingredient for success
It’s already a given that UGC works well, and there are different types of UGC that you can best utilize on TikTok.
Sometimes, UGC is repurposed by the brand and re-posted on their profiles before running ads—this also happens on Facebook and Instagram. But with Spark Ads, you can run ads to the original creator’s post.
It’s a win-win for brands because of two things:
- The content itself has a raw and organic vibe just like the best-performing UGCs.
- Having the ad run on a creator’s page and appearing In-Feed continues to play into the whole authentic vibe on TikTok. It’s additional social proof when users see that the content is playing from an actual user’s profile and not a brand’s profile.
Here’s a good example.
Isle of Paradise is a beauty brand that created the world’s very first 100% vegan and cruelty-free color-correcting self-tan. During an off-season part of the year, they decided to develop a paid campaign strategy that leveraged a combination of branded content and UGC to drive sales for their Glow Drops on Sephora.
The brand identified the top 5 content creators on TikTok who were aligned with the brand. The creators posted original content with the #WakeUpandGlow hashtag. The posts showed how to apply the product. Additionally, Isle of Paradise also reached out to more TikTokers who were already posting organic testimonials about Glow Drops.
They then launched Spark Ads using the original content by the creators and this has resulted to a 500% ROI, 45 million video views, and a whopping 68% increase in revenue per week compared to the prior 9 weeks.
Creator marketing platform like Insense is a perfect place to start.
Maximize UGC ads with TikTok Spark Ads and experience engagement like never before
Spark Ads just completely changed how brands can advertise on TikTok—for the better.
This era in advertising is definitely interesting as it is heavily dependent on the quality of content that’s already out there. . It’s also no longer about quick clicks and quick sales, but about building solid relationships and being part of a community.
Do keep in mind that your Spark Ads will be even more successful when you work with experienced content creators who can churn out quality UGC. Quality UGC plus Spark Ads will take your brand’s success even higher.