Should you try Spark Ads? See our latest test results and findings

Luca Mastrorocco, Co-founder at REPLUG, explains how TikToks Spark Ads work, and reveals the results of tests to determine the efficiency of the offering.

As TikToks user base grows, its no wonder marketers are flocking to the platform. TikTok introduced its Spark Ad property in July 2021 as part of its ongoing development of advertising features. This allows marketers to promote posts directly from their account or an influencers profile.

This article describes the Spark Ads solution: an ad type that allows advertisers to promote native, organic, and compelling content. Additionally, we focus on the results of two of REPLUG’s TikTok Spark Ads campaigns and overall outcomes to show what to expect regarding KPIs, costs, and effectiveness.

What are Spark Ads?
“Spark Ads is a native ad format that enables brands to use organic TikTok postings and its features in their advertising,” according to TikTok. This one-of-a-kind format allows brands to run the following ads:

  • Using organic posts made by other creators
  • Using brands’ own TikTok account posts”

Other social networks such as Facebook and Instagram labeled such a concept as “boosted posts” or “sponsored content.”

Like everything else in marketing, testing drives growth, so we ran campaigns for two clients and decided to try it when promoting the app on TikTok.

Main differences between Spark Ads and In-Feed Ads
In-feed TikTok ads are shown when users browse the “For You” (FYP) page. They can last up to 60 seconds (although 9-15 second long videos seem to be the “perfect balance”). TikTokers can interact with these ads by liking, commenting, and sharing. On the other hand, these ads can be skipped.

Spark Ads, on the other hand, allows marketers to promote an existing TikTok video, instead of creating a video from scratch. Such ads look and feel like organic content, similar to in-feed ads. That is because they are displayed in the feed, without disrupting the scrolling feel.

Still, unlike in-feed ads, Spark ads can lead to your TikTok account, rather than just a landing page. These ads are linked to the real TikTok account, giving viewers direct access to the original poster.

Organic posts receive views, replies, shares, likes, and followers for all the Spark promotional videos. That applies to brand or creator creative content. Plus, the analytics built into Spark Ads make it easy to assess the ROI for your campaigns.

Last but not least, you can include a CTA button directing visitors to your landing page instead of your account page. Viewers can also click the ads music (audio) icon to access that songs audio page.

Now lets start by researching and analyzing each campaign to see the final result.

TikTok Spark Ads: our first test
We explored both Spark Ads options to figure out how Spark Ads can support our partners growth plans.

  • Video Choice: We selected the best-performing video and marketed it from our partners brand and the influencers profile.
  • Goal: The campaign goal was set to “App Install”
  • Timeframe: Three weeks
  • Platform: iOS
  • Side Note: Given the SKANs limits at the ad level on conversion metrics, we had to analyze additional metrics when determining if Spark Ads was promising or a failure for our client.

Below are the metrics we examined for this first campaign.

1. Substantial Increase in Likes and Followers
Spark Ads generated about 250 per cent more followers and 150 per cent more likes in three weeks compared to the previous stats we had. Surprisingly, the ads didnt lead to more shares or comments on the post.

2. Higher CPC and CPM
The follower count and like count increased, but the CPM and CPC for videos from the influencers account seemed to increase. Whereas the previous CPM stats were €0.80 and CPC €0.14, Spark Ad achieved a CPM of €1.2 and a CPC of €2.

However, when we examined videos promoted by our brand profiles, both CPC and CPM fell within acceptable limits.

3. Boost in Average Watch Time and Profile Visits
We also looked at average video viewing time and profile visits as
engagement KPIs. We saw significant improvements across both measures throughout the test. Specifically, we found a 20 per cent increase in average viewing time and a 45 per cent increase in paid profile visits.

Spark Ads: our second test
In one of our latest experiments, we compared the results of using the same video as a traditional TikTok ad (the video was promoted from the clients TikTok account) and when used as a Spark advertisement. The results were unexpected.

We have found that Spark Ads costs are only sometimes low regarding CPM and CPC. In terms of CPC, we had only one concept with a lower CPC using Spark Ads (-25 per cent), while other concepts had a lower CPC using standard ads (up to 20 per cent).

A similar trend was observed for TikToks CPMs, with Spark Ads lowering the CPMs (up to 17 per cent less costly) on two separate occasions. The good news started with CTR. Spark Ads showed a much higher CTR (up to 40 per cent) than traditional ads in three out of four concepts.

The advantage of Spark Ads was that click-to-install conversion rates were consistently higher than traditional ads (up to 72 per cent higher install rate). These figures resulted in a lower final cost per acquisition for Spark Ads, both in terms of CPI (up to 57 per cent lower) and CPA (61 per cent lower in the same situation).

The riveting final point is that when comparing Spark ad results to the best-performing non-Spark ads of all time, install-to-install-to-conversion event conversion rates often doubled.

Should you give Spark Ads a try? Our conclusion
Now that we have wrapped up the article, you are undoubtedly wondering if the TikTok Spark Ads approach can help your app marketing endeavor. We have a few ideas that we would like to share with you.

Extensive testing shows that TikTok CPM and CPC with Spark Ads are not always cheap. However, the final CPI and CPA are – therefore, it would be a good idea to try Spark Ads.

Also, more extensive testing is necessary before labeling the Spark Advertising method a success or failure. At REPLUG, we believe that experimenting with new channels and concepts is the foundation for developing new opportunities for our clients and, at times, uncovering a more deep potential for growth.

Interested in testing TikTok ads to scale your audience and result on a performance-driven basis? Get in touch with us.