‘Maturing’ TikTok launches shopping ad formats and reach & frequency buying

‘Maturing’ TikTok launches shopping ad formats and reach & frequency buying

TikTok is launching four new advertising and ecommerce formats, reach and frequency ad-buying, and new viewability commitments as the rapidly-growing video platform broadcasts its first global advertising upfront today.

Having trialled TikTok Shopping, its tie-up with online retailer network Shopify in the UK from last month, the Chinese-owned tech company is building tools to help advertisers reach online users.

The company, having become a breakout hit in the US and UK in 2018 with teens and tweens entertained by comedy skits and lip-sync videos, announced yesterday that it had reached the milestone of one billion monthly users for the first time. Emarketer also projected this Summer that TikTok has already overtaken Instagram in the US among Gen Zers.

Today, at its first advertising upfronts, TikTok World, the company will announce four new advertising and ecommerce products:

– Product Links: Brands can highlight one or multiple products directly from an organic TikTok video, leading users to instantly-loaded product detail pages.

– Live Shopping: Brands can connect directly with their community in real-time livestreams and share dynamic links to products and services at the same time.

– Collection Ads: Brands can include custom, swipeable product cards in their In-Feed video ads.

– Dynamic Showcase Ads: Brands can serve users personalised, targeted ads based on the users’ interests.

TikTok is also launching Reach and Frequency buying, a new format in TikTok Ads Manager that allows advertisers to book campaigns in advance with “predictable, optimised reach and controlled frequency”.

Advertisers can choose either to target a higher volume of users with extended reach, or more impressions from the same number of users with higher frequency. TikTok says its system will then make a prediction about how many users can be reached within a given budget according to the budget or impression goal, audience targeting, and frequency setting. Because it enables brands to “lock in a CPM in advance”, it should allow advertisers to plan ahead and ensure more predictable campaign delivery.

Overall, TikTok Shopping is supposed to enable a user to connect with a brand’s ecommerce partner of choice, such as Shopify or Square (TikTok said more of these partners will be announced in future).

The easy-to-integrate solution coupled with the new products (more below) will empower brands on TikTok to take their campaigns to the next level, connecting with broader audiences and streamlining the process from campaign launch to product fulfilment,” the company said in a statement.

TikTok’s ‘three moons’

Speaking to Mediatel News ahead of today’s announcement, Stuart Flint, TikTok’s vice-president for sales in Europe, said the new products showed TikTok had “matured” as an advertiser business.

“Covid-19 has more than accelerated [ecommerce] for a lot of brands; they’ve suddenly realised ‘we need to have a better plan here,’” Flint said.

Flint stressed the importance of “collaboration” in the ecommerce space, explaining that TikTok has developed an in-house creative labs team that helps advertisers and agencies create and also execute campaigns on the platform.

“Agencies will have a spot to play in helping those brands, I really genuinely believe that. Publicis [Groupe] are one that called that out and we’ve got a really strong partnership with them.”

Flint characterises TikTok’s commercial offer as being “three moons”, namely marketing, content and commerce.

“Those three things are very much merging together,” Flint explained. “At the epicentre of that is a platform like TikTok… this is a such a nice evolution in our business; not only have we grown exponentially but, as we’ve matured as an advertising business, it’s important to note that we’re still young – less than three years!”

Flint also insisted TikTok is conscious of “ad load” and that user experience will not be diminished by the increasing opportunities brands will get to advertise or push products via listings or recommendations.

“We’re driven as a consumer product first and foremost. We’re always conscious about the type of environment we’re creating on our platform,” he said. “We don’t want to create an environment that’s just an ad platform and not an entertainment platform.”

Dynamic Showcase ads will be ‘the big one’

However, Flint is also clear that users not only tolerate more ecommerce on TikTok, but increasingly expect it. He cited the example of his daughter, who was recently interested in a Gymshark product because of a TikTok video that “wasn’t an ad, just a woman wearing some gym kit”.

He added “There’s an expectation that people want to see this type of content on the platform…. There’s a huge percentage of people that are into shopping and use TikTok as inspirational insight for what to buy.”

That percentage is 42% to be exact, according to a TikTok study that said this number of social media users come to TikTok to discover new products.

Asked which of TikTok’s new products would be most “game-changing” for the company’s advertising, Flint said dynamic showcase ads are “going to be a big one”.

DSAs will enable advertisers to tailor the type of content within their ads, depending on what insights are drawn from what users “like and love”.

“If I was looking in the market for a cardigan, for example, [the DSA] would show me different kinds of cardigans that are on there.. it’s really tailoring and bespoke-ing the opportunity to consumers”.


Today’s TikTok World event is also supposed to reassure the advertising community about ad viewability standards and campaign measurement capabilities.

For example, it has partnered with Kantar and Nielsen on a Brand Lift Study that confirms TikTok campaigns match “industry standards”.

The company is also working with MOAT and DoubleVerify to provide advertisers with information about invalid traffic and viewability on the platform.

DV will provide brands full transparency into the quality of their TikTok campaigns globally for in-feed ad formats. DoubleVerify and TikTok are actively working to expand their viewability offering to other ad formats and will launch additional media quality solutions – providing comprehensive measurement across the platform.

DoubleVerify, which already works with Snap, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube y said it will will offer advertisers data validation, campaign optimisation and “holistic performance”, where marketers can review trends and build reports to inform planning strategies and media spend decisions.

TikTok is also announcing TikTok Inventory Filter, which enables advertisers to gain more control over what they’d like their ads to run adjacent to and feel more confident on the platform. This is aligned to the GARM Brand Safety and Suitability Framework.


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