TikTok Creative That Works: Insights from EyeSee, 3M/Scotch Brite and TikTok 

Editor’s note: This article is an automated speech-to-text transcription, edited lightly for clarity.   

EyeSee, TikTok and Scotch Brite presented findings from a study done on TikTok ads and Scotch Brite’s first-hand knowledge of advertising on TikTok during the April 17, 2024, Quirk’s Virtual – Research Collaboration series.  

From Nicole Tudosie, EyeSee's business development director, and Rachael Rayan, TikTok's head of global and North American research and insights, discussing advertising on TikTok from the platform’s side to Marie Corcoran, global brand strategy and communication at 3M, sharing Scotch Brite’s experience on TikTok, there was more than just data in this session. But Milica Kovac, researcher and global business development manager at EyeSee, does share the recommendations EyeSee has for TikTok ads that are based on studies they have conducted.   

Read the transcript below or watch the recording to hear the best practices and firsthand experiences discussed in this session.

Session transcript 

Joe Rydholm:

Hi everybody and welcome to our session “TikTok Creative That Works: Insights from EyeSee, 3M/Scotch Brite and TikTok.”  

I’m Quirk’s Editor, Joe Rydholm and before we get started lets quickly go over the ways you can participate in today’s discussion. You can use the chat tab to interact with other attendees during the session. And you can also use the Q&A tab to submit questions during the session and the presenters will be reaching out offline afterwards to answer them.  

Our session today is presented by EyeSee. Enjoy the presentation.  

Milica Kovac:  

Hello there. Welcome to this edition of Quirk’s Virtual Sessions. We are very excited to have the opportunity to speak with you today. A huge thank you to Quirk’s for hosting us graciously.  

My name is Milica and I'm a researcher and global business development manager at EyeSee.  

Today we would like to share with you the findings and recommendations from EyeSee’s global TikTok study called “TikTok Creative that Works,” which involves testing 60 branded video ads from 20 global brands.  

Based on that comprehensive study, we also published a white paper as part of another fruitful and exciting collaboration with the TikTok Global Insights team and our Scotch Brite partners. This white paper titled “TikTok First Content Guidance for Powerful Ads” is free to download and it is available on our website eyeseeresearch.com.  

Anyhow, this webinar will be more than just sharing insights because prior to the results presentation, we will examine the study from two different angles.  

The first is from the perspective of the social media platform, in this case TikTok, and the second is from the perspective of a specific brand in this case, Scotch Brite, which scored excellent results as their TikTok videos performed exceptionally well in our study.  

It gives me great pleasure to introduce you to the people you'll soon be able to hear talk about leveraging the TikTok platform for increased ad power.  

First, we'll try to capture the essence and specifics of TikTok as a social media channel through our conversation with Rachael Rayan TikTok’s head of global and North American research and insights, moderated by Nicole Tudosie EyeSee's business Development director.  

Then Marie Corcoran, who oversees global brand strategy and communication at 3M will paint us another part of that picture, how Scotch Bright as a brand approached communication strategy with TikTok and what their key takeaways are.  

If you have questions during the session, please write in the live chat and we'll follow up with you. So, without further ado, let's start with the first part of this session.  

Nicole Tudosie: 

Hi, Rachael.   

Rachael Rayan: 

Hi Nicole. How are you?  

Nicole Tudosie: 

Good, thank you. Good to have you here.  

So, Rachael, instead of a typical introduction question, tell us something about yourself. Can you share with us what your TikTok ‘For You’ page looks like?  

Rachael Rayan: 

Oh, this is one of my favorite questions, but really seeing someone's ‘For You’ page is like a window into their soul. So honestly, what? What's on my ‘For You’ page at the moment?  

I get a lot of corporate comedy. I'm Irish, so a lot of the comedy I get is specifically poking fun at corporate America because that's my day-to-day.  

And I also love DIYTok. I recently moved into a new place, and I've been spending a lot of time thinking about decor and interior styles. I came across an incredible creator recently who speaks all about space planning and I'm obsessed now with paths of travel within a room and ensuring that each nook feels cohesive.  

What about you? What's on your ‘For You’ page?  

Nicole Tudosie: 

Oh, I can so relate to both of those. And, I think, like you say, TikTok knows my Millennial soul a bit too well. I actually used TikTok as the main inspiration to decorate my house when I moved in, and I was so proud of all my DIY projects. I even posted some and I still get a thrill every time someone saves my TikTok with the projects.  

So, speaking about the attention on certain areas of TikTok, in your opinion, what is the secret of good TikTok content that has strong stopping power? How does it earn users' attention?  

Rachael Rayan: 

Yes, absolutely. So, I think everyone's trying to have their TikToks be the one with the strongest stopping power, and it's the most important piece when it comes to creating content. So, creating content that really leans into the very things that make the platform unique really does allow for the content to become content with strong stopping power honestly. 

What makes TikTok unique is really the entertainment ecosystem and videos that have been made with TikTok, the platform itself in mind, we call it being ‘TikTok first.’ We've done some research on this and 74% of viewers say that TikTok first ads catch their attention.  

So, it's really proven there in the stats and by contributing to the entertainment value on the platform, there really is an increased receptivity to ads. We find that employing our, what we call ‘creative codes’ can really help to maximize the potential for stopping power and for success on the platform. 

And those codes are being TikTok first, as I mentioned, making sure that it's produced in a way that fits with the platform. So, it should be vertical in format, and it should leverage this space optimally. So, not putting anything in the video that will overlap with the UI.  

Sound on is truly TikTok first and then employing the culture and the language of the community. So, tapping into the trends that are happening on the platform and speaking the TikTok lingo really helps.  

And then having a story structure that starts with a captivating hook, and we find if those first couple of seconds capture attention, you're more likely to have viewers watch the next few seconds. And so, you can do that by delivering a message in a familiar sort of narrative or ending with a strong kind of close and call to action.  

And then we also find that using stimulation tactics strategically can allow viewers to keep watching as well. So, whether that's quick cuts or text on screen, we see those acting as attention triggers as well and keeping viewers watching.  

Nicole Tudosie: 

And from my point of view, those first few seconds are so important to capture the attention but also give people a reason to stay until the end. And as you say, Rachael, there are some strong TikTok first leverages that brands can pull to achieve this.  

So, why is earned attention valuable in terms of the difference between gazing over some content or looking at it? 

Rachael Rayan: 

So, our research on attention really underscores how nuanced of a topic it is. I could spend a whole session just discussing it, but I will keep it focused on this one piece of the story today.  

To understand this, we first had to really understand the phenomenon of a skippable environment. Oftentimes people assume that skippable environments and skippable content is less effective at breaking through because people just skip it.  

So, that's not the case. We find that attention in a skippable environment signals true attention. The viewer themself, they're kind of at their free will to skip over the content. So, when they don't, and instead they actively choose to watch the content, we know they're really watching because there's some degree of interest, higher quality attention and given the power of choice. And on TikTok, this is partnered with a hyper-relevant stream of available content.  

On the flip side, we've done research that shows in a non-skippable environment, sometimes attention can be a false positive. We found that significant portions of the time spent paying attention or fixated on the ad in a non-skip environments is actually spent looking at the skip button.  

So, not all attention is equal. That's what we do know, and the key to thriving in a skippable environment is creating content for consumers. And we've found, and through this white paper, we see that that's really by leaning into a TikTok first approach.  

Nicole Tudosie: 

It's so funny that you mentioned the skip button because I definitely recognize myself as one of those people who's constantly watching that button when I'm forced to watch an ad, and hence why I think it's so important for brands to test their creative content in simulated environments first. And once you layer all the real eye tracking on that as a research method, you can really tell whether someone is looking at the creative content or something completely different.  

So, I think it's safe to say that TikTok is a very emotionally engaging platform. And regarding the range of emotions, how do you think that differentiates TikTok from other platforms?  

Rachael Rayan: 

Yes, it's interesting. I think it really has to do with the mindset that people come to TikTok with.  

The number one reason globally for visiting TikTok is to be entertained and they find entertaining themselves on the platform effortless. So, there's this sense of ease in arriving to TikTok. The users are open-minded, and they really trust the algorithm to provide them with relevant and entertaining content. And then once they're here, there's boundless opportunity for discovery and inspiration.  

Our recent research, actually, it's called “TikTok as a Discovery Engine,” underscores the power of discovery on the platform, and it really creates moments of surprise, delight, ease and joy, and it's all powered by the community and the people that show up on the platform. It inspires co-creation and collaboration, and it's really motivating further creativity on TikTok.  

That's not to say that other platforms don't inspire positive emotions, but TikTok has truly become a destination for this participatory entertainment and self-expression.  

Nicole Tudosie: 

I so totally agree with that, Rachael. And again, from my own point of view, I also think the relatability of the content and the content creators has a major role in how emotionally engaging TikTok as a platform is.  

And the last question from me, what is your advice or recommended guidelines for brands that are building their brand story with the help of TikTok?  

Rachael Rayan: 

Oh, yes. This is a question we get all the time, and really there isn't one single formula for success. The very nature of TikTok and the community on TikTok is really rooted in showing up authentically and to your point. So, with any guidelines we share, it's important for us to say they are just guidelines rather than a prescription. And ultimately, we're still learning along with our community on what works and what makes sense on the platform.  

That said, there are some tactics like the ones that I discussed earlier, like leaning into being TikTok first, that can really maximize a brand's potential as a creative participant on the platform. Our creative codes really create a safe space and some guardrails, if you will, for brands to experiment with and to really have fun with it.  

Some other keys to success that we've gleaned from our research are leveraging creators to build trust and to really connect with the community and then building a strong or organic and paid presence to have sort of an always on strategy so that you're really showing up with the community consistently.  

Nicole Tudosie: 

Rachael, thank you so much for the nuggets of insights and inspiration that you've shared with us today. It's been a real pleasure chatting to you.  

Rachael Rayan: 

Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. It was such fun to be here.  

Marie Corcoran: 

Gen Z and Millennials spend up to three hours a day on social media. TikTok is fast becoming the most popular search engine over Google for Gen Z and hashtag CleanTok has billions of followers.  

Scotch Bright's, a leader in cleaning globally we're America's number one sponge brand, so it only made sense that we are there and active on the platform. We also had a major competitor get on TikTok early in 2019 and build its own massive following. So, we knew that in order to stay competitive and relevant, we had to be on the platform and create content that resonates with our gen target.  

At ScotchBrite, we consistently track our organic TikTok results. We knew that the content we selected going into test already had good engagement, likes, shares and comments, but when you see that translate into purchase consideration, it's a very reassuring signal that we're on the right track with the right content. We were pleasantly surprised and quite delighted by those results.  

Our organic, how-to style video that leveraged the ASMR trend on TikTok outperformed the other content that was tested. It kept 40% of the audience engaged until the very end, and it was 15 seconds in length, which was a bit longer than our competitor's video. It was also perceived as clear, more relevant, believable, informative, inspiring and was a strong brand fit and raised purchase interest more than the other two videos, one that was done by us and one that was more sort of traditional brand led in feel and another by a top competitor.  

Again, it was reassuring that the content we are making is working.  

So, at ScotchBrite, we launched our TikTok channel in late 2022, and we've quickly grown to over a hundred thousand followers and over 350,000 likes in just a little over a year.  

It's to be consistent on the platform. Best practices say to publish three to five videos per week, but the key to success on TikTok is by creating content that is platform first and follows their best practices. 

It is a sound on platform, so it's important to use trending audio, whether voiceovers or music, to get the key message out early. Use text overlays to punctuate your points and shoot natively in the app.

We also want to make sure that we're keeping the story real and entertaining. We like to call it ‘edutainment,’ which is a balance of educational, entertaining and inspiring and not overly selly. It's important to keep the how-tos very visual and tap into all five senses. We use a lot of the ASMR trend, which is really about exaggerating those sound effects of cleaning. There are billions of these types of cleaning videos on hashtag clean talk, and our consumers cannot get enough of it. 

It's also important to try new things, tap into trends and music and sound effects on the platform, and be flexible to pivot if something's not working.  

We are constantly analyzing, learning, optimizing to get the highest engagement from our fans and consumers. Allow your social content coordinators the freedom to play with these trends and music and styles to keep things fresh.  

And try, even though it's hard as marketers, try to resist the urge to pack each video full of claims or marketing jargon, it should feel like it's coming from a friend and not necessarily a brand. That's what creates those authentic bonds with our brands is by feeling like we are connecting with our consumers in a real authentic way.  

Milica Kovac: 

I'm not sure about you but listening to this conversation felt like watching an “edutainment” TikTok video. It was both entertaining and eye-opening at the same time. And while we absolutely agree with Rachael that there is no one-size-fits-all formula for success, this study, which examined 60 ads from 20 brands across markets and industries, did produce some light casting insights as well as a list of dues and don'ts.  

Our study setup included brands from five distinct markets, United States, Mexico, United Kingdom, Germany and the Philippines. Thanks to our marketing and brand insights partners on the client-side who shared their creatives with us, we ended up testing 60 ads on which we based our global findings.  

The creatives themselves showcased products or services from numerous industries with food and beverage and personal care being the most present ones. The total sample consisted of 7,280 respondents whose behavior we monitored during their browsing through a replica of TikTok environment on our proprietary platform.

Our respondents were 18 to 55 years old. They were all regular users of TikTok and buyers of advertised categories.  

This research is built on the following KPIs, a stopping power, retention and completion rate of ads are tested in a simulated TikTok environment that provided us with insights into users' behavioral metrics. Ad emotional reach and emotional engagement are tested by utilizing online facial coding methodology. Brand recall, and brand outcomes were measured via an online survey.  

First and foremost, if we compare shorter videos, meaning those that last up to 10 seconds with longer ones, the impact on retention of viewers and video completion rates is huge. Shorter creatives have a 71% higher chance of being seen in their entirety, and 40% more content is seen for shorter ads.  

And a close link to this is brand recall of course, because people cannot remember what they haven't seen. So, shorter ads increase brand recall by 15% compared to longer ones. Aside from holding the audience's attention better, shorter ads are also more liked by viewers or to be exact 38% more liked.  

As Rachael and Nicole mentioned, there is a unique power of TikTok to evoke users' emotional engagement, and this actually translates to brand outcomes. Analyzing TikTok first sponsor content that scored high on emotional reach, we saw a 25% uplift in brand uniqueness perception, a 15% uplift in lability and a 14% uplift in overall improved brand opinion.  

We promised you guidance principles, so starting with the obvious one, keep your creatives short. In the age of limited attention spans, shorter videos will ensure that more content is seen.

Second to that, our recommendation based on research we conducted is to keep the brand on the screen as much as possible. To do that, rely on logo and product placements to ensure good brand visibility. Throughout the video, we learned that such ads will make the brand stick in people's minds.  

Sometimes you need to create longer videos. In that case, try sharing all the relevant information upfront. If you have any kind of product introduction, benefit, illustration or key message that should all take place as quickly as feasible. But don't forget, the brand logo should be introduced early on, ideally in the opening scene. And regardless of the adoration, try to entice the audience into the story right away and use the brand's distinct visual style and recognizable colors in your hooks.  

Speaking of unfolding the story, play on the problem solution narrative because this story flow will hold viewers' attention for a longer time. As we commented earlier, it is very beneficial for a brand to stimulate the audience emotionally within this problem solution, narrative. Just make sure that the brand or product is in the foreground as a key part of the resolution, either by reducing the tension or relieving the consumer of some difficulties knowing that TikTok is a sound on platform.  

Use the power of the human voice and music to create a fully immersive experience because human voiceovers that include either verbalized product descriptions or even a brief call to action will draw users in and lift their emotional engagement. Also, trendy pop music in the background brings more likes and boosts positive engagement and sentiment about the video.  

Finally, what also thrills the audiences on TikTok is the use of computer-generated effects such as A SMR or stickers. This sparks interest and if done well, this TikTok native approach can ensure better performance than traditional TV VC like ads we've seen in our study, how it can even enhance the overall opinion of the brand.  

Thank you for joining us today. I hope this session satisfies your curiosity and hunger for insights, provides you with answers and guidance and if you're a brand manager, inspires you to rethink your own TikTok communication strategy.  

Thank you again to my wonderful guests, their hosts and of course Quirk’s for their support.  

If you're interested in the types of knowledge sharing sessions that EyeSee hosts, follow us on LinkedIn, subscribe to our Deep Dive podcast, which is available on YouTube and all other major streaming platforms, and visit our website's, Knowledge Nest, the home of behavioral insights.  

Until next time.