The Rise of TikTok
Paid Social

The Rise of TikTok

Madeleine Beynon • 04/08/2020

Up and down the country, kids, teenagers, and adults alike are pulling snorkels and teapots out of their fridges. Neighbours are running around in bin bags and the kid, from across the road, is dressed as a bush. Darren and Mike are pulling pranks on their unassuming parents and Laura, the youngest, has stormed off after an afternoon of practicing the Renegade. Apparently, her family are terrible at the clap and woah.

These are the creators of the short-form video-sharing platform, TikTok.  The social networking app allows creators to showcase their best dance moves, talents, and comedy sketches. Unlike its competitors – Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook – TikToks most celebrated accounts are from an entirely different pool of people. Here, anyone can ‘go viral’. Giving the social media platform its niche.

The platform first rose to prominence back in August 2018 after merging with the lip-syncing social media network, Since then, the platform has been downloaded over 2 billion times making it 2020s most downloaded app to date. It is now available in 75 languages across 155 countries.

During this short period of time, TikTok has successfully attained an impressive retention rating with the platform achieving a whopping 33 billion average monthly views. According to a study conducted by Oberlo, over 90% of all TikTok account holders access the app every day. Of which, a typical user opens around 13 times, averaging 52 minutes of playtime a day. It is most popular amongst the younger generations. Around 85% of all users are aged between 13 and 34, with roughly 50% of those between the ages of 18 and 24. As to gender, the app sees a relatively similar volume of male and female users.

With such a strong user engagement rating, marketeers are jumping at the chance to display their adds across the channel. There are many ways brands can display and format their ads – as demonstrated below.


Branded Takeover

A full-screen takeover that increases brand awareness and maximizes your ad’s impact. Display  your ad on the first thing that users see when opening TikTok.


A video ad format that showcases your brand immediately when users open TikTok to reach and engage audiences in a visually impactful way.

In-Feed Video 

A storytelling video ad embedded within the ‘For You’ feed, designed to drive users to engage with your Ad Contents or Business Account.

Placements within the “For You” feed are available with more flexible bidding types and precise targeting options and there is the opportunity to self-operate and optimize, increase traffic & conversion and take advantage of the full funnel.

Branded Hashtag Challenge

A unique engaging format to generate mass exposure and attraction around your brand, by inviting users to generate content with a branded theme.

Branded Effect

Engage audience with branded effect and co-create branded content.



As mentioned, there are many ways to market your brand. One of the most popular and successful of which is the Branded Hashtag Challenge.  Around 35% of TikTok users have participated in a hashtag challenge. Chipotle, the Mexican Grill restaurant chain, has expertly taken advantage of this ad type.  On the 31st October, Chipotle ran a campaign offering a discount to all customers who bought a burrito in Halloween costume. With the help of influencers Zach King and Brittany Broski, Chipotle challenged its audience to take a before and after costume transformation video attaching the #Boorito hashtag to their uploaded TikTok. The top 5 most liked posts would win unlimited burritos for a year. The #Boorito received a staggering 3.6 billion views and unsurprisingly it has now become an annual event.

These campaigns come at a cost. For a six-day campaign, a branded hashtag challenge can cost up to $150,000.  Brand and lens campaigns can similarly cost anywhere between $80,000 to $120,000. Since Autumn 2019, TikTok has been looking to increase its appeal amongst advertisers by ‘beta testing’ programming formats. With the recent launch of a self-service advertising platform, spend can now be controlled. Like Facebook Ads Manager, the programme offers smaller advertisers the chance to utilize the social app. To drive up usership, TikTok have pledged $100 million in ad credits across 18 countries. The credit is intended to help small to medium sized businesses whose budgets are limited due to the impact of COVID-19.

Despite its rapid growth and the rush of advertisers towards the platform, TikTok faces major challenges. Until very recently, the app was one of the only social networking sites whose penetration rate was on an escalating trajectory. This trend is now at risk. On Friday (31/7/20) , Donald Trump threatened to ban the app within the US. His decision to act against the Chinese software company is in response to how US user data is being stored. Dependent on whether a deal is struck with Microsoft, TikTok’s growing market is in jeopardy. In such uncertain times, there are many questions left unanswered here. Where does this leave advertising? How will this impact the newly branded landscape?

Whilst we wait to see what happens over the coming weeks, advertisers are left to brainstorm ideas – eagerly exploring ways they can capitalize on the new self-service ad platform. What we do know, however, is that TikTok advertising can lead to real results.