Advertising on TikTok, the key to global success for mobile game?

TikTok’s success has swept through the app world. The app stood at the top of the most downloaded apps in both the App Store and the Play Store for months on end. Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and even Pinterest, and Reddit launched TikTok-like features to compete with the Chinese app. 

But TikTok still hasn’t fully caught up with Meta and Google on the advertising front, more and more developers are investing in the platform to try and reach their audience, with good cause. TikTok has been especially profitable for mobile gaming, sending some of them to the top of the charts quickly. Is it really worth it? Let’s check it out.

Advertising on TikTok

TikTok has 1,2 billion active monthly users, it was the most downloaded app of 2021 (and for the third year in a row) with 656 million downloads. Lately, the app has been expanding its ad business to draw more advertisers to its platforms. There are a lot of different ways to advertise on TikTok, here is a quick recap:

  • In-feed ads 
  • Branded hashtags
  • Top view ads (these are the ads that users see when they open the app)
  • Branded effects ads
  • Spark Ads

Of course, you can also set up an influencer campaign on TikTok by working directly with chosen influencers (the platform even created a Creator Marketplace to help brands find relevant influencers more easily). 

TikTok is starting to be on more and more advertisers’ radars, the app’s success seems unstoppable: it was the first non-Facebook app to reach 3 billion downloads and even though it launched in 2016, it is the seventh-most downloaded app of the 2010s. It’s now quickly becoming unavoidable in the ad space. 

Why TikTok is relevant for mobile games

Mobile games are a part of the culture, different generations of people connect thanks to games. Younger users joke about their parents using Candy Crush, and parents talk about their teens spending all their time on Roblox. 

TikTok is well-known for birthing big cultural phenomenons, from the musical success of Olivia Rodrigo (who won her first Grammy recently and even got a dedicated Netflix documentary) and Lil Nas X to bringing books to the top of the New York Times best selling list (so much so that booksellers now dedicate entire tables to booktok recommendations). Why wouldn’t it be the same for mobile games? This year we all saw Wordle take the world by storm, and become a cultural phenomenon, linking people together. TikTok is a great way to help your game become part of the conversation.

Moreover, TikTok is a great platform for advertisers. The nature of its content drives focus from users, 46% of TikTok users say they engage with the platform without any other distractions. In an era where everyone is multi-screening at all times, it’s an impressive number (it’s also higher than competing platforms reaching 37%). 

According to TikTok’s internal research, their platform also has a higher brand recall than competing ones. As people say, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, it’s time to try and make an omelet on the Chinese app.

Advertising on TikTok is a great way to diversify your UA strategy, try something outside of Meta and Google. TikTok is its own app with a specific identity and content type, and a (very large) audience, one that keeps growing. 

Moreover, even TikTok’s very own users are praising the platform for its extremely precise algorithm (just look at the plethora of personal essays online saying TikTok knew they were part of the LGBTQI+ community before they did). Which bodes well in a post-ATT era where tracking is getting more and more complicated. 

Key audiences in TikTok

TikTok is often thought of as the latest social media app for a young audience. Even though its core users are Millenials and Gen Z, users below 30 years old now only represent 40% of the total number of users. Whoever you want to reach, there’s a chance you’ll find them on TikTok.

Social media users can make or break a game, one of the biggest mobile games of Q1 2021, High Heels! exploded thanks to an intense advertising campaign on the Chinese app. The game’s presence on the social media platform helped it reach the top of mobile game downloads for several weeks on end. 

Even now, mobile game developers have invested in the platform to try and get a taste of that success. In January 2022, 8 out of the top 10 android advertisers on TikTok were mobile games.

source: MobileAction Ad Intelligence tool

Not only that, but a recent guide by Newzoo shows that TikTok gamers are more likely to recommend games to friends and discuss them on social media. It’s a great platform to help your mobile game find its community. Not only are they more likely to spread the word about your game, they also tend to install 50% more games and play for longer than people who do not use TikTok.  

49% of mobile games advertise on TikTok, if you want to be competitive, you need to play on your competitor’s grounds too.  

Some tips to make a great TikTok ad for your mobile game

TikTok employees keep saying it, the key to a successful ad campaign on TikTok is: “Don’t make an ad, make a TikTok”. The platform’s success hinges on its user-centric content, humor, and trends. Let’s see what are the keys to a great TikTok strategy for your mobile game:

  • There are always a couple of ongoing trends going on in the app, jump in on any of them (if it fits your game of course) and reap the benefits but you need to act quickly
  • Don’t crosspost, if your video ad is engaging enough, users will share it on other social media but don’t do it yourself, it could backfire (Instagram has said that its algorithm doesn’t promote content displaying another platform’s watermark
  • It’s all about the storytelling, ensure you have a strong narrative to hook your audience, they love good stories (and a touch of drama) 
  • Aim for authenticity, TikTok users love authentic content. Try and produce content that looks like it was made by users, UGC is working best on the platform
  • Focus on the audio! Unlike most social media platforms where users scroll with the sound turned off, TikTok is all about sounds. As you can see from the graph below, research shows that sound is the most important tool for strong brand attention on their platform:

TikTok is a platform where everything happens fast, trends change regularly and you never know what may become the next sound of the moment. It’s good to stay up to date with everything happening inside the app and to use it to advertise your app with a fun and down-to-earth brand image. 

The apps and mobile games that encounter the biggest success on TikTok are the ones that use it not only for advertising but also to build their brand and community.  Why not give it a shot?

Are you interested in marketing your mobile game on TikTok? Get in touch with us, we’re here to help!

Marine Nozerand

Hi there, I'm Marine (she/her), I'm a Content Manager at Apptamin. Apptamin is a creative agency specialized in app videos (video ads, app store videos, etc.).
Marine Nozerand

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