TikTok has been quite the envy of the town in the social media world in terms of sheer popularity. According to Sensor Tower, it continued its stellar run. In June, it retained the #1 spot for the most downloaded apps globally, with over 65 million downloads in the non-gaming apps category. In fact, over the last 18 months, TikTok has topped that list 16 times. 

That is quite a run for an app facing several issues and bans in some geographies like India. Nevertheless, TikTok has proven that they are not merely a flash in the pan, and they can take the battle to the biggest social media companies out there. 

TikTok’s massive surge in userbase has not gone unnoticed, and brands are flocking to the platform for influencer campaigns, ad campaigns, and more. While it has a great suite of benefits for the creators looking to monetize, TikTok has also provided brands with options to promote their content organically and via ads. The latest in this line is the Spark Ads. 

The idea behind Spark Ads is simple. Brands can promote organic content from creators that they feel is relevant to their brand messaging. This is quite a unique way brands can leverage high-quality user-generated content without giving it the feel of an ad. 

This approach talks a lot about how TikTok is progressing ads on its platform and leveraging its unique and attractive content styles for brand promotions. Let’s take a closer look at Spark ads and how this could impact brands, content creators, and other users. 


How Do Brands Use TikTok Now?

Brands have been using TikTok in many interesting ways. Some of these are traditional approaches, but in a unique TikTok-y way, if that makes sense. Here are some of the top ways in which brands are using TikTok now. 

Organic Content

Perhaps the most straightforward way a brand can use TikTok is by using organic content created for TikTok. Several brands have shown extraordinary creativity in using the platform to reach audiences.

Influencer Marketing

This is definitely a VN favorite. Influencer marketing and relying on user-generated content have been a hallmark of TikTok. Brands have leveraged content creators and influencers effectively with their own niche communities to run various campaigns and promotions. 

Branded Hashtag Campaigns

Hashtag campaigns and challenges are quite popular on TikTok. Brands are better able to interact and engage with content creators using these hashtag challenges. Brands can also promote their brand-specific hashtags for their campaigns, and many brands have been successfully doing it too. 

Paid Advertising

Paid ads are also a growing part of the mix of promotional offerings that brands have on TikTok. Brands can create short video format ads inserted in the feed in the explore section or appear as full-page ads, known as top view ads. These ads usually allow CTAs that can be directed to their websites. 


What Are Spark Ads, And How Are They Different?

Spark Ads can be understood as a blend of influencer marketing with Paid ads. Basically, it allows brands to find interesting content that resonates with their messaging, and they can sponsor this content to reach a wider audience. It also allows brands to promote their own organic content to reach more people.

The only advice TikTok gives its brands is to create TikToks, not ads. This is at the core of the philosophy for Spark ads too. Brands are being urged to create content that is unique to TikTok, complete with a dash of quirkiness, memes, and some fun music! This is what users expect to see!

While some brands do a great job of creating truly unique content, it may not be such an easy task for many other brands exploring TikTok. Spark ads enable brands to rely on content that is user-generated and can be promoted without much change. There are also additional benefits that brands get using Spark ads. Users can directly follow the brands from the ad, visit the brand profile page, and more. 

Say a health and wellness influencer talks about a product in an organic post that they created. If the video is performing well and it can be a promoted content, the brand can sponsor this content and add relevant CTAs to drive traffic to their websites. 

There are 2 distinct advantages. Brands are promoting content that is already performing well, and hence the risks involved in content performance are completely taken care of. Secondly, since the content is user generated, it resonates with TikTok’s unique style, and hence it would not stand out, though it is promotional.

TikTok’s announcement also covers a few case studies on how various brands have leveraged Spark ads for their campaigns. 


How Does This Affect Brands, Creators, and Viewers?

Spark ads surely seem to be a great option for brands to leverage user content and drive sales. Let’s look at what this means for brands and creators.


Brands would certainly be keenly watching these developments and would be eager to give it a shot. Spark ads add a lot more value to their content efforts on TikTok by allowing them to convert user content and their organic content to ads. This is extremely useful for influencer campaigns too, and it can also be used as standalone promotions.

Going by the case studies in the announcement, brands use Spark ads as an add-on to influencer campaigns. They identify the top influencers, give them the creative freedom to come up with content, and then use it to drive traffic and engagement. 

User-generated content is soon becoming a mainstay of social media content in general. There is nothing better than this to convey authenticity, credibility, and quality. Spark ads seem to be TikTok’s approach to user-generated content and further empowering the brands on TikTok. 

For Influencers And Content Creators

For influencers and content creators, this opens up an additional opportunity. Creators have the opportunity to be noticed by brands, especially if their content is performing well. This could be an easier way for budding influencers to get noticed by brands and use this attention to their benefit.

For influencers already running campaigns, Spark Ads allow them to further improve conversions and engagement on their content which the brands would benefit from. ROI and conversions are important aspects of any influencer campaign, and Spark ads can help influencers boost these numbers for the brands they partner with. 


Final Thoughts

TikTok’s steady growth and the attention it’s garnered from brands have certainly influenced its approach. Its been over a year since TikTok combined its promotional offerings under the TikTok for Business name, and Spark Ads are the latest in line.

Spark ads are an attractive option for brands as they boost their content library, improve conversions from their campaigns, and give brands much better control of their promotional campaigns. Having the ability to leverage well-performing videos in their promotion efforts is certainly attractive.

What remains to be seen is how this plays out in the eyes of users who are thronging TikTok for fun content. Given how other social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat have leveraged shoppable posts and user-generated content, TikTok’s experiment with Spark ads is interesting. How brands and users take to it remains to be seen. 

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