Jul 07

This is why people don’t skip TikTok ads

Audiences don’t like ads. In fact, 42.7% of people worldwide use an ad blocker1 just to escape the flood of advertisements. That is, until TikTok.

This video app flipped the idea that ads are unenjoyable. At a glance, stats show:

  • 72% of TikTok users consider ads on the platform inspiring2
  • 45% of users feel more connected to brands that offer value on TikTok 2
  • 49% of users said TikTok helped them make purchase decisions 2

These numbers indicate that brand discovery and ads are symbiotic with the short-video platform. The question is, why?

Well, TikTok is highly user-centric. When users engage with the app, TikTok rewards them by showing them content they want to see.3 Their engagement leads to video entertainment (including ads!) tailored to their preferences. Hence, you get an invested audience that responds favourably to ad content. With the right ads, “the average TikTok campaign ROAS was 2X the median campaign performance benchmark in commissioned studies.”4

So how can brands reach an audience like this? To answer that, we need to deconstruct what makes TikTok ads so engaging.

3 reasons why we watch TikTok ads

They are non-disruptive and engaging

TikTok ads are the antithesis of traditional ads.

Anne Hunter, VP of consumer insights platform Disqo, explains: TikTok’s ad variety, and their integration into the content in a way that’s less interruptive than traditional ads, seem to contribute to their appeal to users.5

She goes on to say, “Display ads don’t have the same emotional resonance as we’re seeing with TikTok formats in an environment where having fun and being playful is part of the raison d’être to be on the platform.”

Take a look at this KFC ad where the brand leans into TikTok’s playful environment. The copy is delivered impactfully with a funny, recognisable character. Though it is clearly an ad, the entertaining concept helped KFC rack up 1.1 million views and 55.9k organic shares.

@kentuckyfriedchicken Get ready. @lilihayes is launching the new KFC Sandwich. (Cuz we paid her to!) #TryTheKFCSandwich #ad ♬ original sound – KFC

Source: TikTok @kentuckyfriedchicken

They are authentic — and the community expects that

TikTok is a place for original content. Audiences expect authenticity and naturally, ad content should accommodate that.

Creator @ola_nowak shares, “Brands should not only care about showcasing their products but should also care about building an engaged audience around their brand.”6

One example of how brands can be seen as authentic is to collaborate with creators. Palmer’s worked with @tonyyounmd, a creator known for his real, no-holds-barred reactions. The brand leveraged his existing persona, leading to an ad that feels organic and invited active engagement.

They are un-produced

56% of users and 67% of creators feel closer to brands on TikTok, especially when they publish human, unpolished videos.2

Un-produced videos are like regular, organic content: entertaining, easy to consume, and most importantly, relatable. Brands don’t take themselves too seriously. They lean into what works on TikTok and put their brand’s unique spin on it. This often means:

  • Trying on-trend audio
  • Jumping on new transitions and filters
  • Using closed captions and text overlay

Of note is leveraging trending audio. The right audio makes the ad relevant. 73% of TikTok users said they would stop scrolling and watch ads with audio7, increasing watch time and overall engagement. This influences if the ad is shown on the home feed, boosts discoverability, and aids brand awareness.

So, what does an un-produced ad look like? Here’s a campaign that perfectly embodies that.

Case Study: SleepTown Singapore


  • 360K+ Reach
  • 2.6M + Video Views
  • 1.7K+ New Followers

Who are they and what did they need?8

  • SleepTown is a direct-to-consumer mattress brand targeting the Singaporean market.
  • They wanted to raise awareness of their Cooling Mattress products during 11.11 and 12.12 Mega Sales and drive traffic to their merchant sites.

What did they do?8

  • To highlight their product’s USP, they took advantage of trending period dramas and created a series of ads set in the ancient Chinese palace featuring classic characters, storylines, and scenes their audiences are familiar with.
  • They localised the ad by incorporating Singlish, keeping the overall content informal, relatable, and above all, hilarious.
  • They utilised a TikTok native ad format, Spark Ads, to boost organic brand posts as if they were the usual in-feed content.

The brand garnered record highs in sales and thanks to their humorous storytelling, spread through word-of-mouth as viewers tagged and shared the videos amongst their social circles. 8


The most successful TikTok ads embody this piece of advice: “Don’t make ads, make TikToks.”6 They are user-centric and prioritise what audiences want out of their TikTok experience. When users enjoy the ad content on TikTok, they feel connected to the brand. And this then translates into tangible business results

To learn more about what ticks on TikTok, check out these articles:

If you’re ready to get your brand on TikTok, see how we can help you. Get in touch.

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Jun 02

Creative automation enables brand trust & loyalty

As the ad landscape continues to grow, advertisements will become more prevalent and customer attention will decline. Marketing and creative teams will have less time to focus on creativity as they grapple with increasing demand for content. Yet, creativity remains the number one factor driving business ROI. 1

The answer? Creative automation. While it does not automate the genius that is creativity, it creates space for that magic to happen. Automating repetitive tasks helps teams scale personalisation without worrying about maintaining brand consistency. 2

Why scaling personalisation matters

Every customer is different, so your ads need to deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time. Messages without personalisation are generic. Worse, they fail to convey the value of your brand and why it should interest your consumer.

Personalisation corrects that. It gives your ads a personal touch by tailoring variables to your customer. These could be language, copywriting elements like CTAs, ad formats, locations, and visuals (including video).

Now imagine modifying these variables day-in-day-out for multiple audience segments, across dozens of ad variations. It’s repetitive, slows down lead time, and burns out creatives.

With creative automation, your team can focus on what matters. They’ll be able to keep up with content churn, get to market faster, and produce impactful assets. In turn, this improves ad performance and creates a better customer experience.

How creative automation helps with brand consistency

As you increase your personalisation efforts, it’s paramount to maintain brand consistency. Each touchpoint is an opportunity to remind customers why your brand is familiar and trustworthy. This is done by consistently delivering messaging that is aligned with the brand’s “core values, brand promise, and brand identity elements.”3

These could be visual elements such as typeface and colour palette, or something more abstract like language and brand voice. Regardless, consistency helps your brand stay cohesive and recognisable across marketing channels, thus building brand familiarity.

Creative automation ensures brand consistency at every touchpoint by:

  • Keeping to the brand guidelines regardless of versions and formats
  • Maintaining quality control even with a high volume of creative production under time constraints.
  • Reducing potential human errors during repetitive creative tasks

Is personalisation worth investing in?

The numbers speak for themselves:

  • 80% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand that provides personalised experiences. – Epsilon 4
  • 86% of marketers have seen a measurable lift in business results from their personalisation campaigns. – Evergage 5
  • 55% of marketers say the top benefit of personalisation is increased visitor engagement and improved customer experience. – Evergage5

Using creative automation to reduce tedium means more time to focus on what matters. Your brand can gather feedback on what elements and combinations work best for your audience and campaign.

Our proprietary Digital Creative Automation (DCA) system does all the above cost-effectively. Best of all, this system is platform agnostic — meaning digital creative assets produced will be compatible with any platform or media you’re targeting. Our clients like Grab have used DCA and seen up to 80% savings in resources while improving campaign performance.


A word of caution, creative automation is not the end-all-be-all. Without something great to automate, what would the result be like? The point of creative automation is to make way for what impacts business ROI: creativity.

“By empowering marketers to scale content creation and distribution independently and in line with brand guidelines, creatives can concentrate on what they do best: creating original, memorable campaigns that strengthen brand identity and inspire trust.” 1

Looking to personalise your ads? Or maybe you want to take creative production to the next level?
Schedule a demo to see how DCA can help you. Get in touch.

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May 18

Should brands be using virtual influencers?

With the excitement that comes with Metaverse, we cannot NOT talk about virtual influencers. Whether they’re animated or an uncanny mimicry of a real-life human being, these CGI characters are capable of influencing purchasing behaviour and have amassed followers of their own.

You might think virtual influencers began with the Metaverse, but the culture behind this type of influence dates back to 1980s Japan. Japanese anime and idol culture existed long before we had the technology to generate CGI humans.1

In fact, though tech advancements now enable production teams to create human-like virtual influencers—complete with a custom personality2 —animated virtual influencers are still popular. For this reason, we’ll use the term “virtual influencer” to cover both human-like and animated influencers in this article.

Are virtual influencers legit?

In a thesis by W.E.M Wolff, titled A Trend or is the Future of Influencer Marketing Virtual?3 , virtual influencers were noted to be successful at two things.

  1. Impacting purchase intention
    It was found that virtual influencers can generate social responses and behavioural change, and this is due to their ability to “create rapport with consumers and being perceived as authentic social beings.”4
  2. Gaining engagement
    It was discovered that virtual influencers have 3x more engagement than real life, social media influencers.5

These findings further support a recent online survey by The Influencer Marketing Factory. They found:

“Virtual influencers can convince others to spend their own money… [with] 35% of the survey’s respondents [saying] they’ve bought a product or service promoted by a virtual influencer.”6

In a nutshell, virtual influencers bring plenty to the table. So much so that they’ve been leveraged to different degrees of success by different brands. Majority of which are recognisable names.

How have brands used virtual influencers?

Brands as early innovators have used virtual influencers to inject freshness into their marketing. From VTubers to vocaloids, to the hyper-real influencers, different brands and industries have found effective ways to partner up and market with them.

1. Luo Tianyi & NESCAFÉ Smoovlatté

Source: Vocaloid News

Luo Tianyi (洛天依) is a vocaloid and as of right now, China’s biggest virtual pop star. She was created independent of a specific brand and takes on campaigns and collaborations much like a regular influencer would. A recent collaboration involved the bottled coffee brand, NESCAFÉ.

The campaign7:

  • Aimed to gain ground with younger audiences who are uninterested in bottled coffee through a demonstration of innovation and an understanding of youth culture.
  • Targeted Tianyi’s fans through Bilibili, China’s biggest youth culture website; Nescafe teased the campaign during 11.11 by airing a customised video featuring the virtual influencer.
  • Leveraged Tianyi to provide a personalised experience that involved scanning the Smoovlatté bottle via mobile phone in order to offer the consumer one-to-one interaction with Tianyi. Users could then play micro-games to unlock a personal voice message, entirely customised to them based on location, weather, and time of day.
  • Users could share these greetings on WeChat, spurring posts and discussions with friends.

2. Lil Miquela & Samsung #TeamGalaxy

Lil Miquela is an independent virtual influencer with a realistic appearance. A big part of her branding comes from how authentic or real she seems. She’s portrayed as an effortless, cool, and self-aware character with values that align with today’s Gen-Z. From carefully constructed social posts depicting a “messy” real life to her witty bio stating, “19-year-old Robot living in LA”, she’s an embodiment of the term authentic.

The campaign8:

  • Samsung launched the 2019 #TeamGalaxy campaign with four members—Steve Aoki, Millie Bobby Brown, Ninja, and Lil Miquela—meant to embody their tagline, #DoWhatYouCan’t.
  • #DoWhatYouCan’t is an extension of Samsung’s philosophy—to defy barriers, to do what inspires you, and to confront your limits. Miquela as a reflection of technology trends, innovation, and authenticity, aligns neatly with Samsung on both their tech and philosophical fronts.
  • Samsung also linked the Galaxy phone’s limitless possibilities with Miquela’s own infinite potential as a virtual influencer, singer, and activist.8

To work with virtual influencers, or not?

Source: DMEXCO 

Virtual influencer services largely fall into two categories. The first, working with a virtual influencer the way you would with a real life one. The second is to create a virtual influencer from scratch for a brand. Either way, both offer a host of creative opportunities and experiences.9

The benefits of leveraging virtual influencers include:

  • Lower costs per follower
    Do you know, the price of working with a virtual influencer is much more affordable compared to an influencer with the same number of followers?
  • Full control over behaviour and messaging
    There is more room to prevent unwanted messaging or perceptions to be shown to the audience without compromising the unique personality of the virtual influencers.
  • Brand-aligned personalisation
    If creating a virtual influencer from scratch, they can be modelled to reflect a brand’s persona and values. This means the virtual influencer will be one-of-a-kind.
  • Giving the brand a good impression
    Utilising virtual influencers can help a brand appear as if it’s fresh and in line with the young, tech-enthusiastic generation’s interests.

However, potential cons of utilising virtual influencers are:

  • A lack of authenticity
    A virtual influencer might come across as “not-human” and lack the genuine quality, as they are ultimately fictional characters. Hence, unable to connect or develop trust with customers.
  • Discomfort and backlash
    Consumers unfamiliar with virtual influencers or with preconceived perceptions may not react well to a campaign utilising them.
  • High development and production costs
    If deciding to create a virtual influencer from scratch, this will require high production costs.

The big question with virtual influencers often is, do they replace real life influencers? Though it is tempting to consider this, Didi Pirinyuang, Executive Creative Director at Ensemble Worldwide, shares an interesting perspective.

“The rise of virtual influencers is not an indication that they are human replacements, but rather, a form of escapism and fantasy that provides audiences with a canvas to project their voices, interests, and personalities.”2 In other words, knowing the influencer is a virtual rendition, or a fake, doesn’t matter. What matters is how consumers relate to these virtual influencers.

All in all, as people still value the human touch, virtual influencers won’t be replacing real life influencers just yet. But they present interesting new ways to relate to customers and for brands to expand into the soon-to-come metaverse.

Get in touch to see how we can help you. 

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May 11

NFTs for brand engagement and consumer loyalty

NFTs are everywhere and you’ve likely heard of them, but just what are they? Are they linked to cryptocurrency or are the two the same thing? What relevance do NFTs have for brands?

We’ll give you a short breakdown and take you through why all the big brands are jumping on the NFT train.

What are NFTs?

NFTs is short for non-fungible token. The Forbes definition describes it as a “digital asset that represents real-world objects like art, music, in-game items, and videos” that are “bought and sold online”.1

Since its introduction in 2014, NFT application has expanded widely to all sorts of areas, from premium auction houses like Christie’s to regulating and authenticating NBA tickets.1

Are NFTs and cryptocurrency the same?

The short answer is no. Though NFTs are built on a similar platform3 to cryptocurrency, it is more of a subset of crypto culture.

NFTs Cryptocurrency
Fungible/Non-fungible Non-fungible

Meaning it is a unique item that cannot be replaced with something else2 and is not mutually interchangeable3.


Is not a unique item, this means it can be interchangeable.

E.g., 1 bitcoin can be exchanged with 1 bitcoin.3

Economic value Has more than Economic value

NFTs can hold both monetary value as an investment and immeasurable value (e.g., community, exclusivity, status).4

Only has Economic value

Cryptocurrency is a currency and can be used to purchase items (that have the platform for it) in the same way transactions are made online.3

Do NFTs have any value?

Source: The New Yorker

Let’s start with where NFTs derive their value from. According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, NFTs have value in these ways.

First, NFTs are a new class of digital assets

NFT value first lies in its mimetic nature—meaning it holds value because other people value it.

This means the value of an NFT hinges on its community. Harvard Business Review goes as far as to say that the success of an NFT project is dependent on a robust community of users or early adopters to establish the NFT’s value.4

Second, the tech underlying NFTs has practical usage

The value of NFTs to brands begins beyond their current image as a digital collectable. NFT technology offers a realm of opportunity for brands seeking to expand their digital touchpoints.

Certain features include:

  • Clear ownership. This prevents counterfeiting and can function as a4 membership card, ticket, or a key to a virtual community space.
  • Making it easy to send additional digital or physical products to anyone who owns a specific token.

This is where brands can explore, experiment, and integrate NFTs into a successful strategy.

So NFTs are cool, but what does it do for my brand?

NFTs in the now and the future could be the central, digital touchpoint between brands and their consumers.5 Unlike NFT-focused brands, a brand-backed NFT is about “tying the core of the brand” with the brand and core product.

As NYU Professor Arun Sundararajan puts it, “brands must look further ahead than the design and implementation of the NFT sale itself… and think about what this means for the evolution of their relationship with their customers…”6

Here are 3 ways brands can benefit from and dabble into NFTs:

1. Improved brand perception

Source: ONE37PM

Budweiser’s NFT Royalty drop combined philanthropic efforts with a commercial NFT project to offer micro-sponsorship, “allowing the brand to rise above the more prosaic philanthropy” of donating the proceeds like other brands have tried.8

What they did7:

  • Budweiser sponsored 22 rising musicians via their Royalty NFTs, creatively using the capabilities of NFT technology for micro-sponsorship.
  • The Royalty NFTs enable anyone to invest in these emerging artists before they are famous and to extend their support to them.
  • They sold 11,000 tokens in total, with 500 NFTs per artist distributed across three tiers (core, rare, and ultra rare).
  • The NFTs were intended to represent users’ loyalty to their favourite artist.
  • The higher the tier of NFT, the better the perks, including one-on-one video calls with their favourite artist.
  • NFTs were available to purchase with credit cards and certain types of crypto-currency.

This launch improved Budweiser’s brand perception in two ways.

  • First, the philanthropic dimension to their NFT drop complemented their existing reputation as a contributor to the entertainment space.
  • Second, their early NFT adoption “positioned the brand as an innovative leader in [its] space.”8

2. Modernised loyalty marketing

Source: Vogue Business

“Branded NFTs represent a new way for people to bring physical belongings into virtual worlds and articulate brand affinity. They’ll do this for the same reason that some people buy limited-edition vintage sneakers in the real world—to be seen wearing them.”9

Put another way, NFTs will become a social currency that connects people to brands8 and this is possible across various industries.

Beauty brand Clinique eschewed treating their NFTs as an asset with monetary value and instead used them to build community and loyalty.

As Carolyn Dawkins, Senior VP of Clinique Global Online puts it,

“These NFTs are a uniquely contemporary way to celebrate loyalty and put our consumers in the driver’s seat, with storytelling and engagement at its core.”10

What they did:

  • They hosted a giveaway where the terms to join included signing up for a loyalty programme.10
  • Created NFTs inspired by cult favourite products as part of a rewards scheme to shoppers who signed up for the loyalty programme. Shoppers got to own 1 out of the 3 NFTs, got early access to buy often unavailable items, and gained free Clinique products. 10
  • Set up crypto wallets for the winning customers and got their foot in the proverbial Metaverse door, setting them up to easily join their VR (Virtual Reality) community spaces.10
  • Used the loyalty programme to gather first-party data and insights.10
  • This use of NFTs to engage the customer rewarded existing members, incentivised new members to sign up, and offered some social currency to owning a Clinique NFT.

3. Enhanced consumer experiences

Source: Stylus

Due to the nature of NFTs, they can be endowed with increased purpose over time4. This means early NFT offerings such as a ticket or brand collectable could become a digital key to exclusive experiences later.
This can take the form of9:

  • Exclusive admittance to in-person events, conferences, VIP lounges, special venue sections, and so on.
  • Access to private, moderated Discords where brands can reward super customers through giveaways, surveys, gifts, tutorials, and even one-on-one chats.
  • Commercial ownership in part or in full, turning the customer into an investor, a member of a club, a brand shareholder, and a participant in a loyalty program all at once.

As the metaverse becomes a reality, NFTs will become invaluable to marketers, in part because of their ability to work with other digital products and systems. Thus, making them usable across virtual communities.9

With improvement in technology, there will be questions. Two common concerns consumers have in the ever-evolving digital era are about privacy and accessibility. Though tools like NFTs provide opportunities to better personalise consumer experiences, are consumers themselves able to receive these experiences or would NFT accessibility present a point of friction?

Further food for thought includes privacy concerns the educated consumer might have, how their data might be collected and used, and so on. For brands, will there be a need to address these concerns?

We’re in very early stages of the metaverse and by proxy, our adoption of elements like NFTs. Naturally, brands are taking a largely experimental approach. Brands are either early adopters and address issues as they come, or they wait and see.

However, one thing is clear. These concerns have yet to hit the mainstream while brands that have embraced NFTs are in a win-win situation for themselves and customers.

Get in touch to see how we can help you. 

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Apr 12

Aligning your brand with TikTok

In part 1, we covered how TikTok differs from Instagram Reels, what subcultures are (aka community), how trends form, and why audio both does and doesn’t matter.

This round, we’re breaking down how your brand can create for TikTok, why subculture matters, and finally, we’ll shine a light on brands that are flourishing and what the takeaways are.

But first, the pre-requisites for effective content creation on TikTok

From the metrics the algorithm values to what captures user attention, success on the app comes with a set of rules. Though open-ended, these rules offer guidance towards understanding the algorithm and leveraging it to create compelling content.

One of these so-called rules is neatly wrapped up in the term “account authority”.

Account authority

In a nutshell, this impacts how your content is distributed to new viewers. Think of it as your content being graded by TikTok’s algorithms, based upon a few elements which are worth taking note of for a successful TikTok strategy.1

First 5 posts Verticality View tiers Deleted videos
TikTok wants you to create a consistent type of video. The first five you create help TikTok evaluate what kinds of videos you’ll continue making. Think of these as your first impression on TikTok. To build authority (or credibility), pick a theme or topic and stick to creating content around it. Switching into a new category is akin to starting all over because you lack authority in that vertical. The number of views you get determines what tier your account is and how easy or challenging it would be to go viral. E.g., 1000-3000 views mean you’re a mid-tier account. Constant deletions tell TikTok that your account puts out a high rate of poor-performing videos.2

Why do view tiers matter?

View tiers are levels of distribution to a cold audience (people who aren’t following you) and your followers based on certain metrics1 such as:

  • Watch time completion and re-watches
  • Engagement variety (e.g., Likes, comments, shares)
  • Engagement velocity (how quickly users engage with a piece of content)

There are 5 view tiers in total, where each level up increases the number of cold audiences TikTok shows your videos to. Whether your video is shown to additional viewers is dependent on overall performance, including the above mentioned metrics.

This brings us back to the fact that TikTok is extremely user-centric. They want to show their users videos that will capture and retain their attention. Hence, watch time is the most competitive metric and the most important one.

While trends abound, people also enjoy content that is unique. This leads us to a big part of what it means to really create for the app.

Create for TikTok

You mean I can’t just jump on trends or repurpose existing videos?

Jack Gordon, an experimental YouTuber, went viral on TikTok in 7 days.3 Here is what he found:

  • The algorithm values standalone videos created for the app. A 6-part series repurposed from a YouTube video needs context and hence, does not do too well.
  • Doing what is popular doesn’t make sense. People would easily get bored and are going to seek out unique videos.
  • The algorithm is like a person who wants to be entertained, hence the algorithm is going to look for fresh new content.

These findings drive home the point that creating FOR TikTok is important. It emphasises that the community and culture on TikTok are different from other apps.

We chatted with our behind-the-scenes TikTok expert and their process.

On top of repurposing TikTok content to Instagram (not the other way around), they added, “most of my content is TikTok-relatable, so if you’re not on the platform, you wouldn’t get it.”

A big part of being relatable on TikTok is understanding who your audience is and creating content that resonates with them. This leads us to the value of finding your subculture, A.K.A your community on TikTok.

Find your subculture

First, themes or verticals are not the same as a subculture. A theme or vertical is broad. It can be a category or niche, while a subculture is a community. For example,

Theme: Food


  • #CookingASMR: Relaxing videos that showcase recipes or the cooking process with an emphasis on showcasing sound.
  • #TooGoodToWaste: A sustainability-focused food subculture that revolves around using up food and reducing waste.
  • #BrunchTok: An aesthetic foodie community committed to creating beautiful meals.

To find your subculture, consider niche interests that align with your brand.4 Subcultures often rise around similar interests or mindsets regarding these topics.4 If a large enough hashtag exists (like #BrunchTok), chances are that there’s an audience there interested in what you might offer.

Doing enough research into a subculture helps your brand4:

  1. Connect with highly engaged and interested communities
  2. Understand these communities’ interests, mindsets, and psychographics to create content that resonates
  3. Tailor your content and approach to effectively target an audience
  4. Establish genuine connection, garnering enormous reach and engagement
  5. Create a brand image around the way you want to be perceived

To give you a clearer picture of how different brands achieved this (beyond funny videos, dance trends, or the classic fashion and cosmetics industries), we’ve analysed two case studies below.

Case Studies

Ryanair: Building a successful community


Subculture: #Flying


  • Their hashtag #RyanAir hit 655.1M views

Ryanair blew up on TikTok by delivering traditional PR in a way that’s entertaining and relevant.

What they did well6:

  • Comedic content revolving around their value proposition, affordability.
  • Customer experiences and their criticisms flipped into jokes that are both self-aware and entertaining.
  • Videos that leverage trending audio and text memes.7


  • Show up early and experiment.
  • Lose the corporate tone of voice and change the language to suit the audience on TikTok.
  • Read comments to see how people engage with your brand and interact with your viewers.
  • TikTok is a creator-first platform. Creators do more than sell, they build personality.

A testament to the community they’ve built is clear based upon the user-generated content (UGC) from fans of Ryanair. Gen-Zs are so committed they purchased Ryanair flights simply to film they’ve been inside the TikTok famous plane.5

Little Moons: Sparking engagement and driving mass awareness

Source: Hydrogen

Subculture: #ASMR #SatisfyingVideos #Mochi


  • 7M Impressions
  • 15,000 User Generated Videos
  • #LittleMoons hit 150.7M views
  • #LittleMoonsMochi hit 107.7M views

Little Moons Mochi ice cream went viral in the UK after TikTokers shared themselves discovering these small, aesthetically packaged treats.8 As the brand gained traction on TikTok, Little Moons took advantage of its virality and put out content to further sustain momentum.

What they did well6:

  • Brand-created content leveraging trending or viral sounds, while tapping heavily into the #ASMR and #Satisfying videos community.6
  • User-generated content involving food reviews and how users can get their hands on the sell-out ice cream.6
  • To date, their best performing videos involve hands-on squishing and smush-ing the ice cream balls.


  • Leverage FOMO and user curiosity to drive store traffic.8
  • Harness an organic trend and prolong a viral moment.9
  • Gen-Z uses TikTok as a source of inspiration and is primed to discover food brands and share them.
  • Support organic content with a well-placed ad strategy9. Little Moons ran a One Day Max In-Feed Ad. It displayed natively in the For You feed, intended to retain an organic feel to maximise engagement. This paid off, resulting in a 1300% increase in sales in Tesco.


TikTok is an experimental platform with the ability to complement the rest of your marketing channels. It has demonstrated sales impact, opportunities for community engagement, and ramped up awareness for brands. It’s a channel well worth pondering and pursuing.

Kickstart your TikTok strategy with us today. Get in touch.

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Mar 16

TikTok vs Instagram Reels: What brands need to know

TikTok’s been abuzz for some time now and for good reason, the app is a hub for virality with influence on mainstream culture and consumer interest. Naturally, brands are interested in getting a piece of the pie. Especially if they’re already familiar with Instagram. Yet there isn’t much discussion covering TikTok’s fundamental difference from the Instagram equivalent, Reels.

So, before your brand sinks time into the predominantly Gen-Z app, let’s break down why it does what it does, and what’s different from Instagram.

The quick ABCs of TikTok

TikTok comes in with around:

  • 800 million1 monthly active users worldwide, with 240 million in Southeast Asia2
  • Their largest age group is between 18–34-year-olds1
  • Users spend an average of 52 minutes a day on the app1

The premise of TikTok is that anyone can go viral, and this is largely because of the way the app’s community participates and interacts with content.3

First, the app’s users find new people and brands via a single source, the For You Page (FYP). This is the discovery equivalent of Instagram’s home feed, Explore page, and Reels tab all in one. The For You Page is fuelled by an algorithm entirely focused on keeping consumers watching. The algorithm even evaluates content based on key metrics including engagement velocity, re-watching, and watch time.4

In a nutshell, TikTok is highly user-centric. This encourages users to keep watching and for Creators to create engaging content.

Difference No.1: On TikTok, sound is creative

Music is a core part of TikTok and is where its first difference from Instagram Reels appears.

Reels TikTok
Original music* Instagram prefers users use existing sounds Original sounds are included in TikTok copyright7
Remixes and creativity Strict audio restrictions impact original sound usage and impose barriers upon creativity5 Dozens of remixes available, many of which are not found on Instagram

*Original music includes non-artist and artist sounds. This can be voice overs, voice recordings, licensed music, remixes, etc.

And here is the kicker,

TikTok’s penchant for virality stems from having this creative audio freedom.

Viral trends sprout in response to songs and audio clips that are available to users to “remix, re-purpose, and reimagine in their own creative ways.”7

The implications of this are huge—enough that TikTok has become a channel that revives old music, improves discoverability of new artists, and through their viral trends, catapult Creators to fame.

What TikTok audio does for brands

TikTok’s viral songs have massive impact on brands too. TikTok helps drive “record-high engagement rates”,8 and through a partnered study with Kantar, discovered it is the only platform where ads with audio generate significant lifts in both purchase intent and brand favourability.7

Brands this is news for you.

73% of respondents said they would “stop and look” at ads on TikTok with audio.7

But wait, there is more. Utilising trending songs offer brands the opportunity to improve awareness and their image. According to TikTok’s MRC Data report,3

  • 68% of users say they remember the brand better
  • 58% say they feel a stronger connection to the brand
  • 58% of users also say they’re more likely to talk about the brand or share the ad
  • 62% say they’re curious to learn about the brand.

Here is a key fact: audio really matters here. More so than you might think.

Difference No.2: Trends, micro-trends, and subcultures originate from TikTok

Trends & micro-trends

Let’s begin by defining the difference between a trend and a subculture.

Trends are something, from a dance to food recipes (like the baked feta pasta recipe), that are popular at a point in time. They encourage participation but tend to be fleeting.

Trends largely begin on TikTok and then spread through mainstream channels and culture.

Our behind-the-scenes TikTok expert agrees and adds that “most content pushed out on Instagram are either about filters or joining in on trends which were found on TikTok weeks, if not months, ago.”

Compared to Instagram’s slower trend uptake, TikTok’s trend lifecycles are in-built into the app’s community. Within TikTok, trends or micro-trends can effectively turn into their own native subcultures, or in other words, a highly invested community united through like-minded interests and passions.

One instance of a trend-turned-subculture is #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt. What began as a micro-trend featuring products consumers and creators were influenced into buying escalated into a community on TikTok with massive sales impact. A report by Similarweb tracking product sales noted that

“Beauty products that went viral on TikTok earned an average of 85.3% month-on-month sales growth on Amazon.9

Paula’s Choice is one such brand. After dermatologist TikToker Dr. Muneeb Shah endorsed the Paula’s Choice BHA Exfoliant in a TikTok video (hitting 3.3 million views), sales on Amazon increased 13% month-on-month.9


So, what about subcultures? The opposite can happen where a subculture sows the seeds for wider trends.10

A subculture is a community united by similar passions and interests; it’s often an interest that deviates from the mainstream.

Take #CottageCore for example. This subculture revolves around romanticised western agricultural life and carries a soothing, often nature-inspired air revolving around a sense of comfort. As of 2021,

“#CottageCore (…) garnered over 3.5 billion views on TikTok and spurred various microtrends in fashion, lifestyle, food, and home décor.”11

What began as a subculture has trickled down into mass consumption, where #CottageCore became a massive fashion trend with real-world impact. In 2021 alone, fast fashion retailers stocked thousands of whimsical dresses emulating this trend.

Omnilytics data showed “over 4,000 new dresses tagged under ‘puff sleeves’ at [these] retailers”12 while other defining #CottageCore characteristics like checks patterns were tagged in over 51,000 products.12

Subculture impact is not limited to beauty or fashion, #BookTok is a clear indicator of that. “The #BookTok hashtag has racked up over 5.8 billion views, and some authors have seen a tenfold increase in book sales for works that are often decades old.”13

It’s clear micro-trends and subcultures have a significant impact on not just products, but whole industries.

TL; DR: What should brands take note of?

The short answer comes down to three things. Authenticity. Storytelling. Community interaction.

While audio plays a big role in raising view count, it doesn’t do all the heavy lifting. Our TikTok expert notes, “if an audio fits my idea, I’ll use it. If not, there’s no need to force it.” TikTok at the end of the day is an algorithm that wants to show people what they like.

And people don’t just like viral, catchy hooks—as evidenced by the For You Page’s unique quagmire of entertainment that spans education, inspiration, and even flat-out tragic comedy.

Next up: We’re breaking down how your brand can capitalise on TikTok, how to build a loyal, invested community, and why TikTok account authority matters.

Want to kickstart your TikTok strategy? Get in touch.

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Feb 25

Creativity: Why you’ll wish you took the leap

Creativity in your ads matter. It’s the meat to an ad’s bones, the “wow” factor, and the secret to an impression that sears itself into memory. Without creativity, there is little room to try something new nor the opportunity to tailor your ads to your audience.

Before you think “personalise and optimise”, you must embrace creative.

Statistics1 show:

  • You have 7 seconds to engage a user on a social platform.
  • Facebook users click on 12 ads every 30 days.
  • Only 16% of advertising is both recalled and correctly attributed to the brand.2

A creatively strong ad is 27% more effective than a weak one. How so?2

  • Compelling ads deliver 11x higher ROI than non-creative campaigns.
    People believe a brand is high-quality and worth their attention because they’re impressed by the effort that went into producing a creative ad.2
  • Creative ads make a brand more competitive.
    The advent of social media upped the need for constant content. This churn in a bid for relevance means simply being present isn’t enough. The brand must stand out.
  • Creative ads reach more people (and save on media spend).
    Ads that elicit a “wow” or some kind of visceral reaction are more likely to be shared organically, especially on social media.

Why creativity impacts the consumer response

What is it about creativity that inspires people to buy product more than its catalogue of attributes and benefits? Harvard wondered that exact same thing. Better still, they conducted a study. In that study, they took apart the elements of creativity and examined which ones linked directly to sales and consumer response.3

More interestingly, of the five elements of creativity examined, the top two forms that drove sales were called elaboration and artistic value.3

  • Elaboration
    An unexpected twist, detail, or extension of a simple idea.
  • Artistic value
    Where an ad is viewed as a piece of art rather than a blatant sales pitch.

If you read only one sentence today, let it be this: the Harvard study found that highly creative ad campaigns, on average, nearly double the sales impact of a euro spent on a non-creative campaign.3

Creativity is more than visual, it’s also copy

Often, we perceive creativity as visual and forget the other stuff. Yet, the underrated hero in any ad campaign is copy. Whether in branding or lead generation, the words you write matter. From the way copy shapes brand identity to the subtle recognition it offers your ads through consistency, copy matters.

A unique brand voice differentiates your brand from the competition; persuasive language incites urgency and emotion. Good, creative copy not only raises a brow, it speaks to your audience. Makes them feel valued, seen, and heard.

To fully leverage the returns creativity offers, tailor both your visuals and copywriting to your target audience.

What is the next step for marketers?

  • Embrace that creativity and digital go hand in hand. Focus on authenticity and what resonates with your audience.4
  • Build for each channel.4 Don’t simply repurpose. Make sure creative is native to the platforms (or even unique).
  • Use analytics to understand what your audience is seeking and how they react to those ads.
  • Test your ad elements one at a time (like a CTA) and don’t be afraid to experiment with different ad versions across platforms. Who knows? Maybe your audience prefers video to static, or comparison to carousel.


Digitisation has made reaching your audience easy, and yet tough, because every brand has gone digital. The key to leveraging digital and differentiating oneself is through embracing creativity. Hook your audience with creativity that sparks, better understand them through the data you collect, personalise your creative assets, and repeat. You’ll get better engagement, better performance, and improved brand recognition. Over time, this could reflect in improved ROI.

Looking for help with personalising your ads? Or to take your creative storytelling to the next level?

Get in touch.

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Jan 25

The What, Why, Who, and How

Chances are the first place you heard about the metaverse came hand-in-hand with Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement: Facebook is now called Meta.

Except, what is it exactly?

WHAT is the Metaverse?

Our head of strategy, Edmund Lou, shares “being in the metaverse is essentially you in the digital world; portrayed by a virtual or digital you, an avatar1. A you-niverse that allows you to experience everything you want in that space.”

This digital rendition of everyday life, Lou notes, “is essentially [shared] virtual space[s] for people to gather”2 and do what they do in physical reality.

WHY is the Metaverse happening now?

You might wonder, why is the metaverse only happening now? In fact, elements of metaverse have been “happening” for some time. This is evident in the self-contained virtual realities and what passes as “everyday” to the gaming community.3

So why is this reaching the rest of us now? First, you likely heard it from Zuckerberg. Second and more importantly, this was digital’s natural next step. It just needed an impetus.

Prior to the pandemic, consumers already lived their lives online. The allure of whatever-you-need-at-your-fingertips, from food to entertainment, meant few things were truly experienced physically. The onset of at-home mandates, spurred by a contagion, only took this up a notch.

The last two years were a flurry of digital-first services meeting consumer demand. Businesses took advantage of existing infrastructure and innovation to pivot online, cementing the existence of today’s digital-physical reality.

WHO & HOW will this affect them?

1. Consumer experiences will be increasingly personalised

Expect even more consumer-focused experiences because whether it’s through hyper-personalised content or persuasive tech, the goal is to keep users scrolling. Consumers will be further incentivised to join and stay on certain platforms.

A notable example is Facebook’s feed algorithm.4 Briefly, the social network takes inventory of posts available in a user’s network and scores them according to predetermined ranking signals. Taking information from the user’s past engagement, Facebook demotes content and scores posts to show you a personalised feed tailored to your behaviour.

As tech giants work to keep users on their platforms, attention as a commodity will only become scarcer. Your best bet against attention scarcity? Take your cue from the giants and focus on the customer. Dig into personalisation, customer data, and targeting.

The value in understanding your audience will only go upwards as competition rises and consumer attention wanes.

Gucci Garden on Roblox via TechCrunch

2. Consumer needs & expectations will evolve

A. Expect changing consumer-brand interaction

Consumer behaviour changed alongside the rise of digital spaces and social networks. More than likely, they’ll also keep up with the integration of the metaverse and its elements.

We look back to the impacts of social networks. Social media enabled users a never-before-seen way to communicate with brands and vice versa. This offers brands more personability, but it also meant brands had to deal with issues in a faster and more humanised manner.

The advent of the metaverse offers even more connective, engaging ways to interact with the consumer. Gone is the clear line between branded and humanised content when it comes to dealing with an online community. In its place is an expectation of organic interaction.

B. Consumer values (digitally) are going to evolve

As people, the things we own have value to us. Up till now, these things primarily consisted of tangible items. The stuff you can grasp in your hands. Oftentimes, the reason we valued our belongings so much were because we invested time, energy, and money into gaining these things.

That extra skin involved in owning the item matters. This does not change even if the item is digital, and gamers know this — collectables, avatar skins, and limited-edition digital items have value and are worth collecting to them. Soon, that’s going to translate beyond the gaming community.

In fact, some mainstream consumers have already made this shift. Think of mobile games that incentivise users to spend money on digital items with zero physical value. Not convinced? Covet Fashion, a gaming app that teams up with fashion brands, sees around USD10 to USD15 spent in-app per session.5 While not quite on the same level as shelling out USD 4115 for a Roblox-exclusive, digital-only Gucci bag, it still centres around the same concept; online product value is still considered value.6

As consumer expectations shift, brands can increase their focus on community experiences.7 This draws a rough guide of what to expect: a new level of immersive and interactive experiences.

For brands seeking to8:

  • Make press headlines with first or early-move media innovations,
  • Test and learn as the metaverse evolves toward its vision,
  • Reach a subset of Gen Z-ers and young Millennial audiences,

The metaverse is ripe for experimentation. The key is:

  • To work with existing creators, influencers, and communities that are most primed for the metaverse.7 Learn from the innovators and early adopters who are most familiar with this sphere.
  • To keep your expectations low and your imaginations high. Though a revenue-based ROI from metaverse custom media buys8 aren’t in the books yet, there are plenty of options to enhance consumer experience and brand awareness.

As Pringle eloquently puts it, “… the metaverse is a place where creativity and curiosity can flourish like never before.”1

Above all, the key is to lead with creativity. In the metaverse, because marketing expectations have not yet been set, there are virtually zero limits. Nick Pringle, R/GA London’s SVO Executive Creative Director, invites brands to consider “virtual first” products and services.1

How might the next generation discover and perceive your brand virtually, and what positive values can be transferred to the offline sphere? From D2A (direct to avatar) goods like Nike’s virtual Jordans, to an energy drink brand supplying rocket packs, anything goes.1

Nike’s D2A virtual Jordans via The Industry.Fashion

In this leap forward, brands and marketers now can create multi-channel products, incorporating several platforms with varying executions, all leading to a more organic and interactive experience.1

This is the best reason for brands to “increase [their] marketing dollar and expand [their] digital ideas to include more than one platform,” emphasises Lou, our head of strategy.

He highlights, “after all, this strengthens brand relationships with consumers, and isn’t that the goal?”


In short, the metaverse is here to stay. Brands need to get ready, get set, and ride this technological evolution. “Remember Nokia, Blackberry, and Kodak? They didn’t evolve.” Lou adds.

Need inspiration? See how Coca-cola, Nike, and even Louis Vuitton made their move.9

Get in touch to see how we can help you.

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Dec 06

5 reasons your audience is ignoring your ads

Your ad campaigns are underperforming; you’re not getting the click-throughs or conversions you’re expecting.

Ad-blindness might be one reason, but it’s a commonly cited frustration without a clear next step to guide improvement.  Here, we’ve compiled 5 other not-so-obvious reasons why your target audience could be ignoring your ads.

1. You’re not personalising enough (or at all)

If your content isn’t resonating with your consumer, you risk losing them. Your messaging, key visuals, call-to-action, language, and so on, each need to be tailored to your consumers’ needs and demands.

Statistics1 show:

  • 66% of consumers expect brands to understand their individual needs
  • 42% of customers are frustrated by impersonalised content
  • 72% of customers will only engage with personalised messaging

In short, deeply understanding your consumer and personalising the ad experience is key to standing out in a cluttered ad space.

2. You’re not aligning your ads to the channel

Consumers have varying expectations depending on the platform and are primed to respond differently.

A user would engage with videos differently on TikTok compared to YouTube. Likewise, someone on Google search is going to seek information and an experience that is different compared to Facebook.

To better align ads to the channel:

  • Fit your visual storytelling to the platform for the best possible user experience. 
    Eg. Someone who is willing to sit through a 2 minute ad on YouTube will not do the same on Instagram.
  • Adapt your elements to the platform.
    A call-to-action on Instagram Stories should take advantage of native features while a CTA on Twitter should be optimised for skimming.
  • Adjust sizing to the platform.
    Instagram’s users respond best to images in portrait mode because they tend to scroll vertically when on mobile.

These platforms  have done the necessary research to hook their audience and keep them interested. Don’t reinvent the wheel, take advantage of it.

3. You’re not on the channels your audience is on

Sound obvious? It’s less so in practice. By assuming your audience is not on a platform, you’re missing out on a group of potential customers.

In fact, your ad could be exactly what they need; there is simply no way to be certain of it without testing it out on that specific platform and gathering information from their responses.

4. You’re not making use of creative & copywriting

Copywriting is essential. Without it, customer data can’t be translated into emotionally-triggering language and you’ll find your consumer captured by a different ad.

But how do you know it’s the right copy? You test it with multiple ad variations. By changing specific elements of your ads — your visuals, design, and copywriting — you get to find out just what makes your customer tick.

5. You’re fusing branding with lead generation ads

One ad does not fit all. Lead generation and branding campaigns fundamentally do different things. Even if they’re targeting the same audience. While the former is about selling products or services, the latter is all about creating lasting impressions and retaining mindshare.2

Rather than aim to have one ad do everything, it is ideal to segment them according to your audience. A fresh potential customer needs to know why they should buy from you, versus a ready-to-buy consumer who you could tempt with promotions or discount codes.

By recognising what consumers are seeking at their stage of the buying journey, you’re better able to personalise their experience.


Paid ads come in all shapes and sizes. The key to making your ads really work is to understand your consumer, tailor your ad assets to their needs, and finally test it out. By leveraging personalisation tools to help you test your ads, you’ll gain better insights and be able to optimise your campaign for improved performance.

Get in touch to personalise your next ad campaign.

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Nov 22

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  • How COVID-19 impacted consumers’ perceptions of beauty products
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  • How brands can integrate new innovations into their marketing strategies
  • Case study: An integrated digital campaign for KOSÉ’s skincare launch

Download the whitepaper now.

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