Exaggerated Emotions and Original Audio Lead to More Effective TikTok Ads, Report Finds

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While TikTok has seen explosive growth among homebound new users during the pandemic, the juggernaut social platform still remains uncharted territory for many marketers.

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A new report from creative analytics platform VidMob aims to give advertisers a sense of how to best fit in with the cultural nuances and preferences of the app’s Gen Z- and millennial-heavy user base as they try their hand at advertising on the app. The firm used its computer vision algorithm to examine nearly 1,500 ad posts that ran this year on 34 brand accounts, looking for patterns in which videos saw the most engagement.

The analysis found that exaggerated emotions like expressing surprise and anger led to an average of 1.7 times boost in the number of six-second views, while cycling between four or more emotions in a single video led to a tripling of conversion rates.

Given that audio plays a huge role in how posts are circulated on TikTok, getting the soundtrack right is also a crucial element, the report says. While many posts on the platform borrow audio from other popular videos, the analysis found that uploading an original track can lead to 52% more six-second views on average. Posts with either music or voiceover saw 1.6 times more clickthrough than those with both, and employing the platform’s voice alteration tools led to 1.7 times more click than a subject’s natural voice.

“On other platforms, advertisers are focused on the visual elements of the creative specifically,” said Sarah Graham, research strategist at VidMob. “Whereas on TikTok, sound is very much key to the success of creative too. So there was a level of audio analysis that we were able to do here that we haven’t done on other platforms.”

Perhaps most importantly, though, content on TikTok has to have the feel of being created specifically for the platform; the environment is not very hospitable to creative recycled from other channels. “TikTok is very focused on the elements that make advertising feel much more native to the platform,” Graham said. “So using influencers, using UGC-style content, using people in different ways than than other platforms.”

Among other stats the report uncovered:

• Limited close-ups—videos in which the subject’s face took up less than a fifth of the screen—performed 31% better in terms of clicks.

• Clickthrough increased by 1.7 times when the subject looked directly into the camera for less than half of the video’s duration compared to more than half.

• Conversion rates boosted 44% when the ad’s call to action is included within the first few seconds of the video.

The report comes as TikTok is taking steps to make the app more accommodating to advertisers and bring a wider swath of marketers onto the platform, despite its recent turmoil with the Trump administration. Earlier this week, the company partnered with Shopify on an ecommerce integration, and last month, it launched a marketing partner program that provides better support for advertisers.

Graham said that VidMob next plans to zero in on specific categories of advertisers and types of calls to action as more advertisers start to gravitate to TikTok.

“There’s a set of brands that may be a little more timid in getting into the platform and starting to experiment,” Graham said. “And so this type of data and these insights are helping those types of brands feel more confident to start experimenting.”

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