Should You Advertise on TikTok? A Straight Answer and Important Insights in 3 Minutes.

3min. Read

Every day we hear more and more about the rise of TikTok–the short dance, lip-sync, comedy and talent video platform. And everyday marketing leaders ask me “Should I advertise on TikTok?” They also share with me that they have asked other marketers this question and all they get back is a wishy-washy MBA answer… “Well, it depends.” Of course it depends! Everything depends! BUT THAT’S NOT A HELPFUL ANSWER so here’s the straight answer and I’m not going to caveat it with a bunch of CYA (cover your @ss) BS. You’re smart enough to consider your own strategic and tactical needs before spending your precious marketing budget.

You should advertise on TikTok now if…

1.    You are selling to 16-24 yrs. consumers, especially females

2.   Your primary target audience isn’t in that demographic but you want to raise your brand awareness with them (e.g. they could be influencers for you today and/or new consumers tomorrow)

For the rest of you, it’s not (yet) worth a big investment.  Because the growth of the platform is so great, I strongly recommend that you set up your account/channel now so you’re ready when the platform broadens its appeal to your target audience.

Below you’ll see some of the numbers behind my answer. It’s important to note that my advice is for the US market. TikTok’s user base outside of the US varies dramatically from country to country.

While TikTok shares many characteristics and promotional capabilities with other social media platforms there are some important things to know. Here are some quick tips to help you get started:

Insights and Advice to Get Started on TikTok:


Fun, Silly Energetic

The vast majority of TikTok users are there to have fun. They’re full of energy and are looking for a few seconds of entertainment. Carry this vibe into all of your promotions.

Basic Strategy

Have the right initial performance expectations – focus on “top of funnel” goals; meaning KPIs (key performance indicators) like awareness and affinity. You’ll misread the value of the channel and be disappointed in its performance if you go for conversions (sales) out of the gate.

siberian husky puppy with red and black collar
  • If you’re eCommerce focused, start with optimizing on View Content (product page details browse)
  • Once you hit ~30 conversion per day move from the ad group level to add to cart and then to purchase optimization
  • Hashtag challenges – TikTok users respond well to #challenges that are fun and sometimes silly (e.g. Jimmy Fallon’s tumbleweed challenge); work with an influencer if you don’t have enough followers to get worthwhile promotional results
  • UGC (user-generated content) – encourage your customers to share videos of themselves using or interacting with your products; you can use inexpensive incentives like free product if you’re a small ticket item or other giveaways/incentives if you’re a larger ticket item. Incentives don’t have to be large – its the recognition and notoriety that gets the TikTok audience excited.


Here’s an example of a successful Uniqlo promotion from last year:

a woman sitting on a swing in a park

In-app challenge #UTPlayYourWorld inviting users from US, France, Japan and Taiwan to upload TikTok videos wearing their favorite UT outfit.

Winners appeared on the monitors in UNIQLO stores around the world.

Audience and Tools

  • TikTok doesn’t yet have the ad and targeting tools Facebook does so lower your targeting precision expectations
  • It doesn’t convert as well as Facebook but it’s cheaper to advertise
  • The audience is better quality (engagement and conversion) than Snapchat, partially because of better demographic distribution, but not as good as Facebook
  • Ad type is generally in-feed video at 9×16 ratio
  • CTAs are click versus swipe like IG Stories


  • The CPA (cost per acquisition) is about 25% cheaper than Facebook
  • CPC (cost per click) is fairly inexpensive compared to other social media platforms – ~$0.09 on average
  • The CPI (cost per install) averages out at ~$0.30

There you have it. A straight answer that you should be advertising on TikTok immediately if you’re directly or indirectly targeting consumers between 16yrs. and 24yrs; especially females. For everyone else you can now judge for yourself based on the info I provided but, at a minimum, set up your TikTok account/channel now.

By this time next year, TikTok’s demographics will have significantly changed so keep an eye on its evolution–keeping an eye on TikTok is also a good excuse to watch a lot of very entertaining content! I’ll post an update when there’s a big shift so stay tuned.



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