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A recent Advertising Week Europe panel session revealed the full-funnel impact that a creative approach can have on a campaign
Inspire Creativity. Bring Joy. Build Brands.
Creative marketing was once largely reserved for brand-building briefs: a big idea, brought to life in a compelling campaign, perhaps with a 60-second ad as its figurehead. Performance marketing, by comparison, prized results; often at the expense of creativity.
Things are changing. Spurred on by the rapid rise of snackable, shareable entertainment in popular culture, a creative approach is becoming increasingly valuable to drive click-throughs and purchases alongside boosting brand awareness.
"The days of white product pack shots following you around the internet are over," begins Kris Boger, general manager, global business solutions UK at TikTok, addressing an audience of marketers at Advertising Week Europe. "Today, entertaining content drives action.”
Boger shares some telling statistics that show old-world performance marketing is on the way out: 73% of customers agree that popup ads are their most hated ad format; for users of ad blockers, that shifts to non-skippable video.
"On top of that, we're witnessing peak media fragmentation," he adds. "Marketers must think constantly about ways to innovate, and ways to optimise, in order to drive better performance. This is an opportunity for performance marketers to level up creatively. The good news is, it works – data from marketing attribution platform Fospha shows customers acquired on TikTok have on average a 2.86x return on ad spend.”
Turn trends into action
How entertaining content boosts performance on TikTok
"In the digital world, we use our ears more than our eyes. Audio can supercharge really effective creative, so performance marketers should embrace that."
— Marcos Angelides, Spark Foundry UK
Looking to up your performance game on TikTok? Visit TikTok for Business’ new performance hub for bitesize resources on creative, measurement and more.
There are many examples of products riding the wave of TikTok popularity – such as Revlon's One-Step Hair Dryer, Scrub Daddy, and Ocean Spray, as well as product-focused trends on the platform such as baking feta cheese pasta or using rosemary oil to stimulate hair growth.
"These are all products that have had content around them that's as interesting as it is entertaining, which then drives some form of offline action," explains Boger. To hammer home the point, he asks his audience if they've bought an air fryer in the past 18 months – to be greeted by a show of hands.
"There are a billion hashtag views of #airfryer on TikTok," he reveals. "Maybe TikTok had a bit of a role to play in that decision. When you look at the content, it could be a product review – but also a recipe for roast potatoes, or just someone taking the mickey out the last video somebody posted."
The lines are blurring between best-practice for short-form entertainment and performance marketing. "You need quick and light intros – no cold openers, slow starts, or 'millennial' pauses," explains Marcos Angelides, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer at Spark Foundry UK, who joined Boger on stage at Advertising Week Europe. "Even cutting off half a second can have a massive impact on performance."
When used appropriately, overlays can deliver your message quickly and effectively – but sound is particularly powerful. "Performance teams often miss that opportunity because they're less familiar with it as a mechanic," Angelides continues. "It's actually really simple. Whether it's using amazing voiceovers – particularly leveraging creators as a shortcut towards certain associations – or trending songs."
'ASMR' sound effects are hugely popular, with over 700 billion hashtag views. "It's visceral, emotive, almost indulgent audio around your products," explains Angelides. "And it spikes product quality perception massively across the board."
ASMR can span anything from the noise of preparing, cooking, or eating food, to the satisfying pop of a product lid or tearing packaging. "In the real world, we often use our sense of touch to feel the quality of a product," Angelides points out. "In the digital world, we use our ears more than our eyes. Audio can supercharge really effective creative, so performance marketers should embrace that."
Embrace the power of sound
Sometimes existing sound can be the perfect fit for a brand message. For instance, the Advertising Week Europe audience were shown how fintech brand Monzo put a humorous twist on familiar territory using trending audio from presenter and podcast host Madame Joyce: "If you owe me money, until you pay me my money back you better be living humbly."
As well as in-platform trending sounds on TikTok, Monzo also plays with its own native audio – like payment notifications. "In a noisy world, it's really important to capture someone's attention," advises Cat Daniel, growth marketing director at Monzo. "We're relatable, but we also provide entertaining content in a space that we have the right to play in."
"There's a big difference between funny and entertaining, but brands sometimes see them as interchangeable," continues Daniel. "There are funny things you can do – trending sounds can provide that comedy element – but entertainment is about catching someone with something relatable and relevant."
Tried-and-tested content models can serve a brand like Monzo well, but marketers must be wary of fatigue – particularly in the paid space. "On other platforms, you can predict roughly how long a piece of creative will last – on YouTube, after maybe four weeks you expect to see signs of fatigue," adds Daniel. "It's very different on TikTok. Some will last two or three days. Some six weeks. You need to optimise your best-performing creative, so it lasts longer."
Be entertaining, not always funny
Content that feels native to the TikTok platform fares best, which means pursuing lo-fi authenticity rather than polished production values. This opens up the entire creator community as potential collaborators, enabling brands to tap into relevant audiences and give credibility to the message.
"Working with creators is just a shortcut to experiment," explains Angelides. "People recognise that you and the creator are different – you get the halo effect, but you're not responsible for the entire story. A brand trying to say a joke versus a creator can have a very, very different response and that's the power of working together."
When Monzo first engaged with TikTok, it was treated as a top-of-funnel channel – but Daniel's team were surprised by higher-than-expected conversion rates, so shifted their strategy. Now the brand takes more of a full-funnel approach. "We talk about product features and use that all the way through the funnel – like talking about how Monzo can help create a tax pot to make taxes easier," Daniel reveals. "That kind of thing resonates really well from a performance point of view."
"People move from desire through to purchase in a matter of seconds," agrees Angelides. "The old way – having a big brand ad over here, and a little performance ad over here screaming, with no connection because there's no mid funnel – is crazy. You need connected stories. You can do everything when you're clever about it."
Collaborate with the right creators