Quick Take: Don’t Subscribe to Binary Marketing Rules

Kevin Goodwin, VP of Performance Marketing | Seattle, WA

August 2023

🚨 "Don't Create Ads, Create TikToks" 🚨

I've never liked binary rules in marketing - i.e. "Never do X". There are always exceptions.

It's important to ask a few questions:
1. How big is the "Exception" - is the rule true 70% of the time? 80%?
2. What's the cost/benefit of ignoring the exception?
3. What underlying conditions need to exist to support this rule?

With TikTok, the "don't create ads" rule had rare exceptions. This was a 95-100% true "rule". The cost of breaking the rule was high (wasted time & ad dollars). And the underlying conditions - traditional ads on TikTok look terribly out of place and users swipe past immediately - were strong.

But I think this rule is breaking down...at least slightly.

Our two highest performing (ROAS) and highest scale (Revenue) ads for a well-known apparel brand from the last month were:
1️⃣ A professionally filmed & stylized video of on-model content
2️⃣ A split screen of product flatlays & studio on-model photos

These both looked liked "ads", and yet they worked, driving 45% of our platform revenue for the month.

I still believe "TikToks" are better than "ads", and our broader portfolio data corroborates that.

But maybe TikTok users are getting more comfortable with ads, the same way we all have on Instagram and Meta?

Or maybe TikTok's ad delivery algorithm is improving (i.e. an underlying condition) and changing the fundamental rules we subscribe to.

One thing is for certain - the marketing world is dynamic, and we must constantly challenge the "rules" we all follow.

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