TikTok ads have been invite-only for awhile now. But this week, TikTok announced that all U.S.-based businesses can now create accounts on the TikTok Ads Manager platform.
Even cooler — the company created a small and medium business ad credit program. Eligible advertisers can get $300 in free ad credits as well as a "matching" credit of up to $2,000 through the end of 2020.
In other words, TikTok will give you an ad credit for the money you spend. So if you spend $100 in ads, TikTok will give you an extra $100 credit. This means you effectively get twice the ad spend (up to $2,000).
In order to qualify, you have to prove you're a registered business. If you have an LLC for your music, you'll be in good shape. Just upload your certificate of formation (or similar documents) and you're good to go.
Why Should I Care About TikTok Ads?
The same reason you should care about all forms of digital advertising. Advertising on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, and now TikTok is hands down the most repeatable and measurable process for getting new fans to see your content.
If you have any experience in running Facebook or Instagram ads, you won't be too thrown off by the TikTok ads manager platform. In fact, many of the social media advertising platforms borrow from Facebook's interface, so a lot of the terminology looks similar.
There are a few really wonky things right now — for instance, if you want to see your ads or engage with people who engaged with them, you have to do some weird device ID voodoo. Hopefully that's something they fix in the near future (because you really should be able to interact with people who comment on your ads more easily).
But TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms and the current ad rates for getting your videos (read: music) in front of new listeners is incredibly cheap.
What Kind Of Ads Work On TikTok?
This is a great question. We're still in the early phases of figuring out the best kind of content to get users to engage with your music.
While we know ad placements like Instagram Stories are great for driving people to places like Spotify, we don't yet know how users are most willing to interact with music-related ads on TikTok.
However, we do know that using ads that feel "native" to the platform will be more effective. In other words, if you already make TikTok videos, using an existing TikTok or something that feels like a normal TikTok video will typically be the best-received. Because it interferes least with the user's experience.
Any Notable Downsides?
Right now it's important to note that your ad account and your personal TikTok account aren't linked. Hopefully they also make that adjustment so you can drive traffic to your profile. But right now there's no way to know that your ad is related to your TikTok profile — unless the link you're advertising IS your TikTok profile.
The primary goal of TikTok ads for most advertisers is to drive engagements on things like products and off-platform experiences. For most musicians, the goal of TikTok ads will likely be to either grow your own TikTok profile or drive awareness around your song.
So far, there aren't any targeting goals that explicitly help you achieve these tasks. You just kind of have to use links (and the TikTok pixel if you're feeling fancy) to achieve this.
Will TikTok Ads Become The Best Way To Advertise Your Music?
Again, way too early to tell. But it never hurts to experiment and figure out if they'll work for you. And given that TikTok is willing to give you up to $2,300 to figure it out, it's worth a shot. Anecdotally, this is the best ad credit program we've ever seen.
There is a minimum threshold you need to "commit" to a campaign but you don't have to spend it all.
Also, TikTok is a little different right now in that you buy the ad spend in advance. In other words, most platforms bill you when you reach a threshold. With TikTok, you'll buy ad credits in advance (like, say, $100 worth) and then spend them.
Just like having a firm understanding of the difference between Google Ads and Facebook ads will help you measure the actual results of your spend, understanding what makes TikTok ads different will require some time. It may turn out that you're way better off selling physical products than driving people to music. But you won't know until you get in there and start testing.