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News Plus 11 Feb 2021 - 3 min read

Tok gear: Kia marketing boss says TikTok takeover delivered huge clicks, engagement

By Josh McDonnell - Senior Writer

Kia's Dean Norbiato: "The cost of the ad unit is the most expensive element and while there are different ways that you could get those eyeballs and clicks, the level of attention would fall short."

As Facebook dominates headlines, Kia marketing GM, Dean Norbiato, says TikTok is delivering in spades. The auto brand was the first to use TikTok's 'Topview' takeover format – and it smashed records, yielding 8.3m impressions and a CTR of 16.29%. While "expensive", Norbiato thinks TikTok's inventory is "terribly undervalued". And he's planning to go back in for more.


What you need to know:

  • Kia marketing boss Dean Norbiato has become a TikTok convert following a 24-hour takeover of the platform's 'Topview' ad unit.
  • Kia's campaign scored 8.3m impressions, and a CTR of 16.29%, over-delivering on objectives by 25%.
  • Norbiato says while expensive, the platform is "terribly undervalued" and represents a huge opportunity for marketers to tap a young, engaged audience.
  • He says it's vital brands tailor creative to the platform. Trying to crowbar existing material won't work. 

Top gear

Kia marketing boss Dean Norbiato says taking a punt on TikTok is paying off. The carmaker was the first brand in Australia to use TikTok's 'Topview' ad unit and in a 24-hour takeover, it delivered 8.3m impressions, 1.3m clicks registered and a click-through rate (CTR) of 16.29%. Norbiato said it over delivered on projections by 25%.

While expensive, relative to a takeover on Youtube for example, Norbiato says the results speak for themselves, and demonstrated that a tactic that took some work to get over the line was worth the extra investment.

"The cost of the ad unit is the most expensive element and while there are different ways that you could get those eyeballs and clicks, the level of attention would fall short," Norbiato tells Mi3.

He says other platforms can also claim much bigger total audiences and promise a greater number of impressions – but that's only half the story. "Did anyone see that ad at all, or did you just get an inflated metric with no detail on the attention sitting underneath it?".

Norbiato accepts that the result could be at least partially down to novelty factor. As a new platform he thinks TikTok currently delivers a "more engaged audience".

"New platforms tend to hold a greater degree of attention because people are more engaged and are spending time learning how to navigate and communicate through it. Whereas on a more mature platform like Facebook, it’s easier to scroll through and get into a rhythm," says Norbiato.

While novelty always wears off, TikTok appears to have no shortage of new users.

According to Roy Morgan research from October 2020, TikTok had already hit 2.5m Australian users by mid 2020, recording a six-month growth rate of 52.4%. If growth has continued at even half that rate, users today will be well north of 3m.

Go hard, early

After blowing 40% of his digital launch budget on TikTok for the campaign, Norbiato says Kia would happily "double down" on the platform moving forward.

He suggests other brands, regardless of sector, would do well to get in early, "but in the right way", i.e. not just repurpose existing assets.

"We worked closely with our creative agency Innocean and media agency Havas to ensure we were speaking to the audience in the right vernacular. That meant tailoring the ad specifically to the inventory,' Norbiato says.

"If you're going to be an early adopter, trying to fit creative from your TV ad or other social channels isn't going to work. TikTok is a platform that requires specific native content, very similar to how brands such as Triangl Swimwear utilised Instagram ads in its early days."

Dominated by Generation Alpha and Generation Z, which make up over 70% of all TikTok users, it seems an unlikely destination for an auto brand to look for lead generation. But Norbiato views Kia's TikTok experiment as a brand building exercise, and says it still leans on Facebook and other channels for leads.

"It’s a reap and sow mentality. We are looking to engage with the younger demographic, but also build brand affinity with them so that when they move into the bigger buying percentages, we’ve already fostered a relationship with them," Norbiato says.

"As a brand, you’d be crazy to not consider TikTok across multiple categories. I know that there are plenty of digital ad units that can deliver click-throughs. But the bounce rate is often too high and the dwell time is negligent or non-existent."

Kia does not plan to use TikTok for every campaign. However, when it comes to quickly capturing a younger demographic, Norbiato says combining native creative with the top takeover format has proven that the platform has to be considered.

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