• Red Harp Team

We Test Drove TikTok's New Programmatic Ad Platform. Here are our Thoughts.




TikTok recently announced the beta release of a new programmatic platform designed to empower brands and their agencies to launch and manage fully scalable video campaigns across the rapidly-growing social media network.

When presented with the opportunity to join the exclusive beta launch group, our agency quickly spun up a campaign for one of our clients to kick the proverbial tires and see what kind of results we could generate. Keep reading to see some valuable observations and recommendations to help in launching your own TikTok campaign!


Creatives: Less is More

It's no secret that brands love talking about themselves - and video is no exception. However, this "egotistical" habit seems to be discouraged by TikTok's advertising platform, with their documentation recommending videos between 10 and 15 seconds. Indeed, when we first launched the campaign, we used a 30-second spot we posted on other social channels, but quickly noticed that delivery was painfully slow. We replaced this video with a 15-second version, and performance picked up immediately.


This could obviously present a challenge if you're not able to squeeze in everything you want to say in just 15 brief seconds, but a possible solution - if your material supports it - would be to slice your longer video into a series of 15-second videos and prompt audiences to view them all on your TikTok profile.


Your Investment Goes Far on TikTok

By now, we're all familiar with how far your investment will take you on Facebook or Instagram (answer: not nearly as far as it used to). Give or take, you're typically looking at a $4 CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) and $.10 CPV (cost per view). However, on TikTok, our first campaign yielded a mere $1.10 CPM and extremely modest $.004 CPV.


Of course, take this with a tiny grain of salt as this was from our first campaign - and during a beta launch (it's possible the platform's algorithm has yet to be fine-tuned). It's also entirely likely the platform will charge more once they've officially launched, and will certainly continue to hike up prices over time like their more established competitors. However, for the time-being, we expect rates will remain relatively low, so get while the getting's good!


Your best bet if you're seeking awareness and video views

In its current incarnation, the TikTok programmatic platform unfortunately does not offer objectives for engagement or followers. So if you're looking to grow the number of followers for your brand's TikTok profile, a paid campaign on this platform may not be the best solution. In our test initiative, despite far over-achieving our targets for video views by more than 10x, the follower growth rate was only .007%. :-/


However, if your objective is to drive awareness and/or video engagement, the current platform, with its current pricing, is a great addition to your other paid social media efforts.


In summary, we're quite pleased with the results of this first campaign - no doubt, a big part of this was the strong value and relatively low costs. However, the overall experience of setting up and managing the campaign was also surprisingly smooth and easy. The options, parameters, and settings available to define targeting and delivery are quite limited at this point (which is to be expected given the platform's development), but it was otherwise just as intuitive as other platforms.


We're sure rates will go up over time, but so too, in theory, will the platform's capabilities in targeting, creative development, and analytics. So we're excited to run more campaigns on TikTok and see what we can achieve for our clients on this rapidly-growing network.

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