Nell Natkanski, Digital Marketing Strategy Manager, and Kenneth Kinney, VP of Marketing and Digital Strategy, discuss TikTok as both a content channel used by hundreds of millions of followers around the world as well as its emergence in value in social media advertising on Ai Media Group’s “Advanced Intelligence” show.

00:14
Kenneth:  Nell, thank you so much for joining us today on the Advanced intelligence Show.  Let’s talk about TikTok, one of the channels that helped me get through the entire 2020 year.

00:27
Nell:  I think it helped a lot of people get through 2020.

00:34
Kenneth:  Look, you take a combination of Netflix and TikTok and I was pretty good.  Their audience is so big.  It’s over 800 million at the time we record this but talk briefly about the audience and reach from an advertising perspective.

00:45
Nell:   I think TikTok has a reputation of being just for teenagers or a younger demographic. And that has actually over quarantine proven to be false.  I think that when it comes to reach, you have such a wide variety of audiences on TikTok and while the targeting is still pretty simple you can reach users from all ages.  You can get through to people that are on TikTok.  Mind you you’re on TikTok during your off time so you’re reaching people when they’re not thinking about work or anything.  You’re trying to reach through to people that are just scrolling for entertainment.

01:29
Kenneth:  (nodding slyly) Oh, I never, I never looked at it during work hours ever.  Never.

01:34
Nell:  (laughter) Yeah.  No, never.  Not at all.  Not me opening my app right now. (laughter)  With the audiences, I think TikTok has done a really great job of creating.  Your “for you” page looks different than mine.  I think it cultivates these niche audiences where you can really get into some targeting that can be really specific.  Most people on TikTok, at least for myself, I get influenced all the time because I see I follow some beauty gurus or some chefs that are using an ingredient that I’ve never heard of and I end up doing that at home.  The targeting and the audiences, you can get as specific and as granular as you want and it’s such a wide variety.  It’s not just in the US but worldwide.

02:36
Kenneth:  How do you look at the targeting then in TikTok vs. an Instagram or Facebook, which has been predominantly the ones that own so much of advertising over the last few years?

02:47
Nell:  I think because TikTok is much more of a newer platform when it comes to their advertising capabilities…. you can do first party data.  They haven’t really introduced third party data.  Most of the targeting comes from geo’s, age, interests, hashtags, and keywords.  Let’s say the client was an EDU client, they could easily put in a hashtag for nursing or something like that and it would come across as relevant for people that are frequenting that hashtag because all the videos are within that category.

03:24
Kenneth:  What is the problem that it really solves for an advertiser when you think about it as an advertising channel?

03:32
Nell:  Well, brand awareness for sure.  I think that with TikTok because there are so many people on it and active monthly users, if you want to get your name out there, I think that’s the best platform to do it. I think when it comes to comparing to let’s say YouTube, for example, when you go on YouTube you already kind of know what you’re going there for and you’re looking for something specific vs. on TikTok, no one is necessarily searching for insight or anything like that.  You’re actually targeting users that don’t know about you.  It’s just great brand exposure.

04:11
Kenneth:  Talk about the different ad types that you typically use with campaigns.

04:17
Nell:  The most popular ones are probably the In-Feed videos, which are basically videos that come in within videos on your “for you” page. There’s also TopView and Brand Takeover.  The difference between that is the Takeover ads can be just single images that are static vs. the TopView, which is when you initially open the app and you basically have 100% of the Share of Voice when a user opens the actual app.  Those are pretty effective because it’s the first thing that a user sees when you’re opening TikTok.  There are also hashtag challenges, which are pretty popular in the sense that a lot of the bigger brands use them.  Mac (Apple Macintosh) is always used as a case study because they had over 2.3 billion views or something like that.  35% of users participate in the hashtag challenges so you’re actually engaging with the audience you’re trying to market to vs. just serving an advertisement and letting it sit and wait for impressions, clicks, and things like that.

05:26
Kenneth:  Were there any ones that you’ve done that have really stood out the ones that performed well for you for any campaigns?

05:35
Nell:  I think In-Feed video ads do pretty well, especially if you have a constricted budget.  You want to do In-Feed video ads, but it’s not necessarily about the type of placement.  It’s the content that you’re creating for that advertisement.  A lot of cases as marketers we have this tendency to believe that an advertisement has to look like an advertisement.  Now, I think that shift is happening where things look a little bit more native.  Every time I speak to anyone at TikTok from our team there, they always ask us to ask our clients to make a TikTok…. not reformat something to look like the actual ad.  I think on TikTok especially people are very not allergic but they’re not as engaged with advertising.  Because if you’re thinking about it on your “for you” page, you’re looking through original content.  When you see an ad pop up, you think I don’t want to see this right now.  I know you’re trying to tell me something or tell me about something.  I think that the content is what is very important now when it comes to any advertisement on TikTok especially.

06:50
Kenneth:  This episode is brought to you by Canada Dry.  No, just kidding. (laughter).

[Nell holds us branded bottle of water continuing to mock the idea of promotion.] (laughter)

Exactly. Elaborate if you will on having a specific ad type specifically for TikTok that’s not re-cutting an Instagram or YouTube or Facebook ad so that even if it can fit the right portrait size on your phone, it’s not just a rehash of that same kind of ad on another platform.

07:21
Nell:  What I would highly suggest for a lot of companies that are considering TikTok is to actually download TikTok and look at the content that’s created.  From the user’s perspective, you’re looking at original content that is just cut right then and there.  You can scroll for three hours and the same thing doesn’t repeat.  Also, good to mention when you are doing a campaign with TikTok, they ask for at least two different varieties of videos so that it doesn’t repeat for that reason.  With Tiktok, the content is so diverse and original that doing anything that is called a good advertisement doesn’t work in this situation. You want to be authentic to the voice of your brand.  That means download the app; have a sense of how to create videos; what kind of sounds are being used; what kind of editing is being used.; most trending let’s say videos types that are being created on TikTok; and maybe apply that to the advertisements or whatever the brand might be.  I think actually one example that I can bring up is one of the Fashion Institutes…. I think maybe of Miami…. they have a TikTok account that’s being run by their students.  That could be a great advertisement.  You could just use that as an advertisement vs. having to create something in a tool somewhere else because TikTok also has the capabilities of creating advertisements within the actual platform.  You don’t actually have to go outside the platform to then create something new.

09:16
Kenneth:  Then let’s talk about it outside of just an advertising channel.  What do you like about TikTok as a general user?  I will admit that I probably spent about three hours prior to this meeting scrolling through and getting prepared.  I had to do my homework to get ready right?  But what have you enjoyed about it as just a content user?

09:38
Nell:  I think it brings me a lot of nostalgia from the Vine era.  When Vine was around, it was very similar to TikTok.  It was a much simpler platform but it was the same concept where you can get lost for three hours and you’re constantly entertained.  Your “for you” page gets so specific to you.  It’s exactly the type of content that you want to see and hear about and look at.  I  think it’s also just a unique platform.  It creates this wonderful community.  Of course in many platforms, it creates a kind of an echo chamber so you’re hearing your same opinions back at you but I think that it really cultivates a wonderful online community, which kind of was the original purpose of Facebook and Instagram, for example.  I think that it does that through that video format which is really powerful I think. Yeah and I just waste so much time on TikTok,  I’m terrified of looking at my phone and checking how many hours I’ve spent on the app on the past week.

10:48
Kenneth:  All you have to do is just go look at your screen time reports that you get once a week, and which app dictates the most use.

10:56
Nell:  (laughter) That’s exactly what I’m not doing.

10:58
Kenneth:  Exactly.  When you look at it from a user standpoint….when you see ads on a platform like this that doesn’t serve a lot of ads, it’s not like Instagram where you’ll see an ad every three swipes for example.  On TikTok, for the most part as a user, a lot of people are still irritated by having ads but I actually find it to be one of the channels that’s pretty easy on ads.  They’re blending in a lot better than what they necessarily do on a lot of other channels.

11:31
Nell:  Even when I do see advertisements, just as a marketer too, I’ll look at the actual advertisement just as a point of reference for insight and research.  You can tell that there’s more engagement with the advertisement.  Sometimes when you run Facebook campaigns or Instagram campaigns and look at the comments, it’s empty vs. on TikTok they might be funny and there’s a bunch of kids or people that are making fun of the advertisements but that’s still engagement.  That’s still someone thinking back to that comment that they posted on the advertisement even if it may be funny or not, but maybe a month later they think about that actual advertisement and convert in some way.

12:18
Kenneth:  Well it’s the best UX design on any social platform to me.  It was better than Vine but just being able to like something easily; follow something more easily; and then create comments…. it’s just one where it’s even easier than the like button on Facebook or at least I’m seen more prone to do it just because it’s a quick tap. 

12:18
Nell:  Yes.

12:44
Kenneth:  When you think about all the people that have entertained us, are you more of a “for you” kind-of-gal or are you more of the regular feed coming through?

12:59
I’m definitely a “for you.”  I think I have fallen into the trap of the psychology behind instant gratification in media.  So I’m scrolling through there for quite a while.  I love discovering new things even though I will switch back to the people that I actually follow and look at their videos too.

13:18
Kenneth:  Well, who are the influencers on TikTok that you most watch just as a user, not as an advertiser, but just as a user that entertain you?  What are the ones you watch?

13:29
Nell:  I’m pretty boring but the first one that came to my head was actually other marketers and people in Finance who use TikTok to give out advice or have the same conversation we’re having now about other platforms. The other not related to work are definitely food TikTok, interior design, and just like strange humor TikTok.  I’m definitely not on the Charli D’Amelio (@charlidamelio) train or the Jason Derulo (@jasonderulo) train.  I go some places deep that I don’t know how I got to in the first place.  Definitely one TikTok account that comes to mind is called Katherine Wants (@katherinewants).  It’s just this couple.  I think the guy is a chef and he asks his wife or I guess his fiancé now.  This is how involved I am in their life that I know the relationship status.  He just asks her what she wants for that day and then he cooks it for her.  He’ll tell you the whole recipe.  I just I can’t get enough of it.

14:34
Kenneth:  We didn’t get to talk about Dog Face and Tropicana and talk about so many other good subjects that go along with TikTok.

14:45
Nell:  Definitely.

14:46
Kenneth:  Well Nell, thank you so much for being with us on the Advanced Intelligence Show.

14:50
Nell:  Thank you so much for having me.