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TikTok Search Ads: Five Things Marketers Need To Know

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Despite TikTok’s explosive growth as a social platform, its performance advertising capabilities have lagged behind. 

But the increasing number of young people using TikTok as a search tool – almost 40% – has created a perfect opportunity for the platform to introduce search ads. 

Although TikTok is currently only testing search ads, the move has significant potential to give TikTok a competitive edge that will be hard to replicate. And its competitors are already taking notice. Instagram, for example, recently revealed plans to test out ads in search results, too.

How can marketers make the most of TikTok’s search ads? Here are five things savvy marketers should consider.

1. Ensure TikTok is a good fit for your brand

Before you jump into TikTok, make sure it’s the right platform for your brand objectives. Start by figuring out if your target audience is actually using the app. As of January 2023, 21.5% of TikTok’s global audience was made up of women between the ages of 18 and 24. TikTok users are all about inclusivity and diversity, so it’s crucial that your ads and content are respectful and designed to be inclusive, too.

Test the waters and determine if the audience pool is sizable enough. TikTok’s insights tool is a great place to start.

2. Understand the actual appeal of TikTok

TikTok has something that people just can’t get enough of: authenticity and organic discovery. Around 64% of TikTok users worldwide say they can be themselves on the app.

If you’re making content for TikTok search ads, it needs to look like it belongs. Don’t go slapping together some reused or overly produced videos; those just look out of place and might negatively impact your brand. And don’t forget: Your search ad should answer what people are asking. Do some research on what’s useful to your audience, and it’ll be a hit.

3. Paid and organic work better together

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To make the most of your advertising budget on TikTok, combine your paid strategy with organic content. By setting up an organic TikTok profile, brands can gain valuable insights into their audience’s preferences, which can inform their messaging and marketing strategy. This approach can also be a cost-effective way to test out different types of content before investing in paid advertising.

Once you’ve established your organic presence, launch a paid advertising campaign. Start with a broad strategy, such as an interest-targeted traffic campaign, and pair it with your organic content to create a synergistic effect.

It’s also worthwhile to install the TikTok pixel prior to launching. The pixel will enable you to track traffic site visits from both your paid and organic activity, surfacing an engaged pool of users who can be retargeted later.

TikTok search ads also provide valuable insights that extend beyond paid strategy. For instance, if searches for “easy makeup ideas” are driving significant traffic, creating a series of videos focused on this topic could drive even stronger engagement.

4. Don’t put all your eggs in TikTok’s search ads basket

TikTok search ads should be part of a comprehensive full-funnel strategy that can help raise awareness around your brand and retarget people who’ve shown interest but haven’t converted yet. 

One tactic to complement ads is partnering with influencers as an awareness initiative and using their audience to expand reach and awareness even further.

5. Watch trending topics

TikTok is a highly dynamic, fast-paced platform where new trends and challenges emerge quickly. Brands that have their finger on the pulse of trending topics can gain a deeper understanding of their audience and what they’re searching. That can lead to more effective TikTok search ads and better outcomes.

One effective way to stay caught up is to make use of TikTok’s trends dashboard. This valuable tool provides real-time insights into the most popular hashtags, keywords, videos and creators on the platform, helping brands plan their search ads and ensure their content is always relevant and engaging.

It is likely that TikTok will continue to prioritize performance in the near future, potentially introducing fresh features that streamline the creation of native video ads, like in-app editing tools. However, despite the significant progress made in TikTok’s search ads, it remains to be seen whether the platform can truly compete with established industry leaders in terms of performance.

Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

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