Same Same, But Better – TikTok’s Influence On Media Marketing

Same Same, But Better – TikTok’s Influence On Media Marketing

In this guest post, TikTok Australia’s GM, Brett Armstrong (lead image), says the brand has thrown off its ‘Kids’ image and in a few short years has become a top tool for modern marketers…

When new mediums and platforms come along there’s always the temptation to throw the baby out with the bathwater and rip up the rules of marketing. But that’s the opposite of what we need to do. Especially in today’s fast-moving world.

When TV came along it took a while to catch on. Introduced in Australia in 1956, only five per cent of Melbourne homes had television sets and the pick-up was slow due to the cost. The same had been true of radio before it, the first mass communication medium.

But this played into advertisers’ hands, giving them a chance to understand and master an entirely new medium without exposing their brand in front of huge audiences. And TV established some new norms for modern advertising, but they were built on the principles of other established mediums from radio to outdoor and print.

These are: appealing visuals, have sound that sticks with the viewer long after the ad has finished, communicate succinctly and stick to a key message.

Things move a little faster today than in 1956. The advent of the smartphone is probably the last mass-adoption hardware shift the media industry will see for several years, but it has enabled whole new genres of media to emerge and establish themselves, from YouTube to Facebook and now TikTok.

And as each of these platforms has emerged we’ve seen the same patterns of behaviour from advertisers:

  1. A general resistance because ‘it’s just for kids’.
  2. A slow but steady movement to start experimenting with them (usually by putting existing TV assets on there);
  3. Finally, the acceptance they’ve reached critical mass because they offer consumers something new and different;
  4. Realisation they’re not the same as the one that comes before, so you need to adapt to what the platform has trained users to expect of the content on there;
  5. Mastery and integration into the main media mix.

The good news is the cycle is definitely speeding up – as is evidenced by the fact so many advertisers are already embracing TikTok less than three years into its existence.

But while technology and platforms change, what captures people’s attention fundamentally doesn’t. We’re creatures of habit hardwired to repeat our steps day after day. So why do we continue to think every new medium means ripping up the rulebooks and adopting an entirely new approach?

Sure, over time the internet has made advertising more interactive and collaborative and allowed us to generate direct responses to our advertising – but if we look at what’s driving the most successful brands today across all these platforms, it’s an adherence to marketing fundamentals, married with some innovative thinking around the specifics of each medium.

But ‘digital’ still has a lot of ingrained stigmas to address with many advertisers still believing a few myths. For example, the idea that these platforms are just for performance ads, and brand advertising doesn’t work on them.

This is completely counter to what we’re seeing on TikTok where brand ads are viewed 21 per cent faster than on other platforms. (1) But those finding the most impact with this are adjusting their ads for the platform’s cadence and audience expectations.

Canva, for example, turned to TikTok to help lift brand awareness via its bespoke ‘What will you design today?’ campaign.


From brainstorms to big ideas, see how @melatiwijsen from designs workbooks that inspire change #DesignedWithCanva #design #education

♬ original sound – Canva – Canva

After one week, the brand saw a +20.2 per cent uplift on Online Ad Awareness for the ‘What will you design today?’ TikTok hashtag.

There was also a +18 per cent brand favourability lift, plus a +12.7 per cent uplift on intent to use Canva the next time users create or design digital or physical materials with graphics – evidence that TikTok can be a needle-mover for driving brand impact.

Like any platform, however, creativity is still the thing that makes an outsized impact on any campaign – creating something appealing is important. That’s fundamental, no matter the platform.

Creators are just the new brand ambassadors

In 1882, London socialite and West End stage actress Lillie Langtry became the poster-girl for Pears Soap, making her the first celebrity to endorse a commercial product. Fast forward 140 years and people are still influenced by famous people – why does every energy drink have a cabal of sportspeople endorsing it, while high fashion uses Hollywood celebrities? Because they shift product as people consciously or subconsciously want to emulate them.

The same rules apply in the media as well – we tune into our favourite news bulletins based on the anchor, and Hamish and Andy are guaranteed ratings winners for a new show because people love them.

Yet still some marketers treat creators on internet platforms as a kind of mythical creature, to be studied in the hope of finding they can lay a golden egg.

All the internet age has done is democratise influence, giving people more choice over the media and voices they listen to and created a huge pool of diverse personalities for them to follow and find their community with.

So it’s a no-brainer for marketers to use these channels to speak to audiences which aren’t found in other advertising environments any more, and engaging the people popular with the audiences they want to reach is just a natural extension of a tried and tested strategy.

The main difference is rather than spending millions to concept, script and coordinate an expensive shoot where the star inexplicably runs through a corn field before ending up at an exclusive Parisian party, these creators will do much of the heavy lifting for you.

They’ll create content that may not meet any craft awards but will generate a bucket-load more return on investment because it really speaks to their audience and creates the most engagement. Now, 75% of brand impact is driven by creatives. (2)

Another difference is that unlike mega celebs these audiences are invested in these people and want to see them succeed and make money. So they’re more likely to interact, have a two-way conversation and then become advocates for the product in turn – 1 in 3 users are inspired to buy something a creator has recommended. (3)

And each of these people now has a sphere of influence of their own, creating a network effect that ripples out through communities spreading the message further.

Big name endorsements are still very relevant, but if ambassadors aren’t being maximised across all their online channels as well then your brand is missing a trick. This is where the real magic happens today. We know, because we see it every day.

To be successful in the future of marketing we need to embrace the lessons of the past – everything old is new again and everything we are doing now has its echoes in history.

Out with the old, in with the new

For a long time, advertising on digital channels has been seen as an unwelcome disruption, a necessary evil of our media mix. But I think this is really changing, with marketers realising ‘digital’ is actually just a delivery method and not a marketing genre of its own.

Certainly, consumers don’t discern between the online and offline world any more. Kantar’s 2021 Media Reactions study showed consumers perceived TikTok as the “most innovative” channel and the platform was the top-ranking media brand among consumers for global ad equity.

One thing TikTok is definitely doing is creating new consumer habits and offering some fresh disruption for media platforms. Now audiences expect diverse and authentic content from a multitude of communities – it’s something others are scrambling to catch up with, and others simply can’t match.

Which speaks to a last universal truth of marketing – authentic engagement from people they can identify with is always going to resonate more with consumers than one-way and performative broadcast messages. Diversity is no longer a nice to have, it’s an essential prerequisite.


  1. TikTok Marketing Science Global Ad Attention and Brand Building Study 2021 conducted by Neurons
  2. Nielsen TikTok MMx Meta Analysis, March 2022
  3. TikTok, Meta analyses by Kantar, Apr 2022 SEA



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