Us at S3 Advertising agency pride ourselves on being one of the first to try, understand and learn from new things in the industry.
It’s part of our DNA; from being the first to re-imagine Cardiff’s Alliance Ring as a one-of-a-kind billboard, to the Team S3 monthly ritual of trying new skills, together, during our monthly personal development afternoon.
So, when TikTok began to take off in 2019, S3’s digital advertising team were hot on the case investigating how we could innovate.
Why? Because TikTok’s reach and presence in culture is undeniable.
With such hype out there, brands who were quick off the mark could capitalise on the rare opportunity to gain brand ‘kudos’ that comes from being an early adopter on an uber-relevant platform.
Plus, with such a high cut-through among ‘Generation Z’ – those born between 1995 and 2015 – TikTok gives advertisers of youth-facing brands a powerful way to not only reach but identify with their audiences in the short, snackable content style this group loves.
Knocking on TikTok’s door
The bid to join the platform as an advertiser began with S3 digital executive, Gareth ‘Gary’ Pitt seeking out the HQ by knocking down their door. Well, kind of. In this case, it was repeatedly filling out a website contact form over a period of between 4-5 months until he established the right contact to push for ad rights.
After weeks and months of liaising with the reps, squeezing for information about when the platform might open for advertisers, and generally being super-keen TikTok beans (SKTTBs, for short), the news came through in March 2020 – we’d been approved for a business account and could kick off our first campaign.
It was no brainer to take the trial to client University of South Wales (USW) as they embarked upon a major campaign for 2020 student recruitment. This campaign centres around the classic undergraduate applicant profile of 17- and 18-year olds for whom TikTok would be second nature.
Upon exploring the platform, we found the targeting was simplistic. Interest segments like ‘Automobile’ and, crucially, ‘Education’ provided broad ways to find our audience (though the platform has recently diversified to include additional demographic targeting like age range).
However, it seemed clear that so long as we used the channel as a digital mass brand builder – rather than a direct response channel – then the potential was there for the taking.
Armed with our new Hands on Potential creative and close planning with the USW digital marketing team, we were able to launch the campaign in Spring 2020.
What we found
TikTok lived up to expectations.
The campaign was a monster in terms of gaining eyes on brand; the reach and impression figures outperformed that of channels like Instagram and Facebook when given equivalent spends.
In four short weeks the modestly budgeted campaign achieved over half a million impressions and 2,807 clicks at a very low rate of £0.20 a click.
Through test and learn, we’d established TikTok as a powerful mass-reach tool for clients and gained a new component to any consumer brand awareness strategies we’d come to recommend.
Getting in first clearly had value. S3’s trial campaign landed before TikTok launched its worldwide appeal for advertisers, which includes a major campaign featuring a punchy TV advert and a ‘Don’t Make Ads, Make TikToks’ strapline.
The TikTok for Business programme was still in its infancy, meaning that while targeting was limited S3 was able to benefit from a less saturated online adspace overall, which undoubtedly creates a power in performance.
Once upon a time Instagram sat in this sweet spot – which reminds us that fortune favours the fast.
Since the USW campaign S3’s digital experts have rolled out TikTok within numerous clients’ digital strategies and are measuring and understanding the capability of this platform more and more each day.
The team has compiled a list of business sectors that would most benefit from being on TikTok, based on the available targeting and brand building creds.
If you’re a marketing professional in one of these areas and want to know more about how TikTok might work for you, S3 Advertising’s Matt Lewis will be happy to chat. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As for what’s next in our never-ending quest for digital advertising innovations…? We’ll have to check with our Gary.