3 brands share their creative and attribution journeys on TikTok

Catch Group, Quad Lock and JD Sports digital marketing leaders detail their experiences with the video social media platform

Adopting a test-and-learn mentality, crafting plenty of in-house, native creative and solid attribution models are key to achieving advertising results through TikTok, three Australian brands report.

Speaking on a panel at today’s TikTok for Business event, performance and digital marketers from JD Sports, Quad Lock and Catch Group shared experiences advertising on the next-gen social media platform and what it takes to try and generate results through video-based creative. The three have also been early pilot brands for TikTok’s performance marketing solutions.  

For JD Sports head of digital, APAC, Deborah Papazoglu, the key shift in mindset was to recognise consumers were coming to TikTok to be entertained.

“How do you as a brand provide entertaining content while staying true to you are and your objective? That was something we needed to figure out and we’re still figuring out. It’s exciting – there are lots of challenges and still a lot of learnings,” she told attendees. “TikTok sits within our broader marketing strategy. We know when we combine that upper funnel activity with conversion activity, it gives us the best chance of the campaign going really well.

“That’s a recommendation for other advertisers – make sure when you’re running your performance activity, you think about how you are supporting that with your upper funnel activity. We are very conversion focused, but we know the importance of upper funnel activity and how it boosts conversion.”

Catch Group paid social media and affiliate marketing lead, Claudia Martinovich, has been running TikTok activity since early 2022, commencing with awareness-based executions.

“For us at Catch, test-and-learn is part of our DNA. So we wanted to see where it could take us and value it could provide,” she said.

Quad Lock started advertising with TikTok nearly two years ago and is targeting multiple regions including Australia. Its performance marketing lead, Adrian Rafter, said primary interest is in acquiring new customers.

“A lot of work we do on TikTok is conversion based; direct response and need to get a return on my ad spend advertising. That is the playbook,” he said. “I’m advertising different products from our range to different regions.”

In discussing similarities and differences between TikTok and other channels, Papazoglu said JD Sports is measuring platform advertising in the same way it does every channel.

“But there are some other considerations. We know the audiences are big, so we play to that strength,” she said. “We are also looking at 30, 60 and 90-day strategy. That allows us to learn how the platform is performing and to tweak creative. We look at conversion, how we bring our CPA down, plus pre and post add to cart.

“Then I also look at a wider set of objectives: App installs, am I getting new customers through this, how are my spark ads working?”

Rafter saw two sets of levers to pull. On one hand and in terms of structure, there’s bidding and placements to take advantage of. The other side is audience and creative.

“What we found was that those were the areas I needed to have a fresh approach with for TikTok,” he said.

The creative brief

In explaining Catch Group’s recent TikTok campaign for a portable coffee maker, Martinovich said part of its content strategy is “finding products that are quite quirky in nature, that customers will look at and ask what is that?

“We want to turn that product into a video that makes them want that product. So it’s looking at what we have onsite, plus what are customer looking at on the TikTok platform,” she said. “That involved quite a bit of research and combining those things with trending sounds or something that allows you to tap into the platform a little more.”

In a lot of cases, Catch creative is produced in-house and natively. “It shows you don’t have to go full scale, you can do it in-house,” Martinovich said.

JD Sports also has a broad range of creative. “This is the key to TikTok – you have to try different types of creative and not go down only one path,” Papazoglu advised. In one creative, the brand had someone go around the store and video it. A second piece of creative was filmed activity in the JD office, set to the bell of a fighting match.

“That tapped into the entertainment component – this was the studio team going rogue, which was really successful,” Papazoglu said. “We also did a behind-the-scenes of doing that, which was hilarious. It shows you tapping into the entertainment element and consumers really feel that authenticity coming through.”

In its third example, JD Sports ran a performance campaign focused on detailing features of its footwear.

“It’s daunting when you think about content and how much digital marketing teams have to produce,” Papzoglu commented. “Lean upon the people in your business – open it up to your stores, warehouse, head office teams, because amazing things can come out of that. Sometimes we hold creative close to our departments, but I’d recommend opening that up.”

Papazoglu also recommended making sounds and trends business as usual. “Someone in the team needs to be across that every day,” she said. “Be real on the platform – consumers will call you out for trying to be someone else there. And think about how it fits in the TikTok environment.

“One of the biggest mistakes we made early on was starting a performance campaign and putting the CTA and logo in the first bit. When you’re scrolling through as a consumer, it’s immediately perceived as an ad. So we shifted that. You won’t always get it right – expect to have many mistakes.”  

Rafter also admitted a few fails along the way. “I did that thing many advertisers have done – took videos from another platform and uploaded them. It bombed, even when it worked in other places,” he said.

“We ran a couple of creative sessions to look at the creative and audience levers specific to TikTok. We devised new creative concepts, and part of that was looking at TikTok Trends. Then we needed a few concepts that were in the middle ground – so taking a script of something that sells well in other platforms but using greenscreen techniques and other tools to make it more native to the platform. There were still ads we ran that were hard sell, as a way to help measure what was working.”

From this, Rafter’s recommendation is to set up ad sets with six creatives.

“What we also found is over 90 and 120 days, the algorithm optimises and then we could turn off the stuff that wasn’t working,” he said. “We’ll take the best thing from last month and how we can tweak that, add text, is there something on TikTok that will make that a bit more effective again?”

In measuring success, Rafter looks firstly at ad manager data, plus CTR, costs per click, completed payments and add to carts. “But at the end of the day I need to validate that with real dollars coming into my Shopify stores,” he said. “I also then use a post-purchase survey – that’s just an app on the back end of Shopify.”  

But even with the emphasis on performance, panellists were adamant about being open to experimentation on TikTok.

“It’s a new platform so look at it as a learning journey,” Papazoglu said. “Empower people in your business to help produce the content and help boost that machine. People will have fun with it – even Brian in our accounts team wants to be part of it.”

“TikTok is such a different platform, being able to lean in, learn as much as you can and be agile and remit and flex and play with creatives,” Martinovich agreed. “Subbing in first-party data as well was awesome for us. We pulled in our OnePass loyalty members and served them content. That gave us the strongest results and we were able to drive repeat purchasing behaviour.”

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