Curious about finding out what Spark Ads are and how your brand can use them for impressive paid media results on TikTok? This guide will tell you everything you need to know to start.

Do TikTok Spark Ads Work?

Beauty brand Isle of Paradise achieved organic viral success on TikTok by the second quarter of 2020. When their new Glow Drops product launched, they were ready to double down on the platform via a paid campaign strategy — using branded and creator-led content. 

They reached out to TikTok influencers who had already published organic testimonials about Glow Drops and worked with them to repurpose their content for the campaign. 

Next, they converted these creator videos to the Spark Ads format, and the results were … astounding. Isle of Paradise saw:

And these numbers are during Isle of Paradise’s off-season.

They certainly aren’t alone. James Allen, McDonald’s, and CheckIn — all have significantly succeeded with Spark Ads. 

There’s no question Spark Ads can help your business grow and reach a more diverse audience.

Side note: If you’re just starting with TikTok influencer marketing, begin with this quick guide

What Are TikTok Spark Ads?

TikTok Spark Ads is a native ad format allowing you to boost organic influencer posts as part of your ad campaigns. It’s a hybrid of organic and paid advertising or influencer whitelisting — meaning you can use a creator’s already published posts as ads if you receive their authorization (more on how to do this later).

For example, see the Spark Ad below by creator for the dog food brand Pet Plate.

Source: @dexterthebalancingdog

The Spark Ad is promoted through the creator’s page, labeled ‘Sponsored,’ and there’s an option to add a built-in CTA redirecting to a website.

The best part? Spark Ads don’t look like ads. They are organic videos — meaning users can like, comment, share, co-create, and interact with your ad in the same way they do with organic posts. This native feel lends an unbeatable authenticity to your advertisements, giving a better experience to the viewers. 

Instead of being salesy, Spark Ads become videos users wouldn’t immediately scroll past.

At first glance, TikTok Spark Ads don’t look significantly different from TikTok Regular Ads. And they’re a lot alike, but it’s the tiny dissimilarities that make a huge difference. 

What’s the Difference Between TikTok Spark Ads vs Non-Spark Ads?

There are four significant differences between TikTok Spark Ads and TikTok Regular Ads: 

tiktok spark ads vs non-spark ads
  1. Ad Creation Process: For TikTok Spark Ads, the content must first be posted organically by a creator or your brand on the platform before it can be converted into an ad. On the other hand, regular TikTok Ads require you to upload an ad creative directly to the TikTok Ads Manager.
  2. User Interaction: TikTok Spark Ads mimic regular TikTok videos in their interactivity. Users can click the profile photo to visit the creator's profile, tap on the music name to explore other videos with the same audio, and utilize a CTA button or caption to be directed to the advertiser's landing page. However, in regular TikTok ads, clicking on the profile picture, nickname, video caption, and CTA button will lead the user directly to the advertiser's chosen landing page.
  3. Metrics: With TikTok Spark Ads, you have the ability to track a range of metrics, including paid clicks, music clicks, likes, shares, followers, profile visits, comments, and click-through rates (CTR). The metrics for regular TikTok Ads are somewhat limited, only enabling you to track paid clicks, likes, shares, and comments.
  4. Creative Restrictions: TikTok Spark Ads are more flexible, with no restrictions on video resolutions, ad ratio, file size, and bitrate, and can support all video lengths. Regular TikTok Ads have stricter guidelines - the file size should not exceed 500 MB, the resolution must be at least 540*960px, and video duration typically ranges from 5 to 60 seconds.

So, which type of TikTok Ad is better?

Which Is Better: TikTok Spark Ads via Influencers vs Regular Tik Tok Ads

Answer: TikTok Spark Ads. They feel more authentic to the native feed and are likely to perform better than Regular TikTok Ads. The numbers back this up too. Compared to traditional ads, Spark Ads have:

  • ➕ 30% higher completion rate 
  • ➕ 142% higher engagement rate 
  • ➕ 43% higher conversion rate 
  • ➖ 4.2% lower CPM 
Source: TikTok

What’s more: It's ad creation at scale. Spark Ads allow you to level up your online presence and build stronger customer connections — without doing the heavy lifting of in-house content creation. 

Now, let's walk you through the process of creating and publishing Spark Ads in your TikTok Ads Manager account.

How to Create Spark Ads on TikTok Ads Manager

There are two Identity Types for Ad Creation:

  1. Own Account Identity: This Identity type allows you to create Spark Ads utilizing posts from your own TikTok , which is linked to your TikTok For Business account. Typically, this account is used for your brand's organic TikTok posts. Eligible videos from the linked account can be used to create Spark Ads. To use this Identity, your TikTok account must be linked to your TikTok For Business account and upgraded to a TikTok Business Account.
  2. Authorized Account or Post Identity: This Identity type allows for the creation of Spark Ads using TikTok posts from accounts that have granted you permission. When this Identity type is used, your ads will appear as if they were posted by the content creator themselves. Note: that only the posts you have been authorized to use can be made into Spark Ads.

How to get the ad authorization code from the creator

A creator just posted a video featuring your product or service; what's next? For you to amplify their organic post, the creator needs to give you an authorization code (i.e permission) for use in your TikTok advertising account.

Here are the steps the creator needs to follow:

  1. The creator goes to the video on their personal profile page
  2. They click the three dots "•••" below the “comment” button
  3. They select “Ad settings”
  4. Turn the Ad authorization toggle to “On” and agree to the advertising terms
  5. They tap "Generate code"
  6. And tap copy code to share the code with you (the brand/advertiser)

For authorization duration, creators can give marketers authorization to use their original organic post for Spark Ads as long as 365 days. As a general guide, you should aim for 30-60 days.

How to set up Spark Ads in your TikTok Ads Manager

Your creator has provided you with the ad authorization code. Now what?

Follow these steps to set up Spark Ads in your TikTok Ads Manager:

  1. Log into your TikTok ads dashboard. You'll notice 4 tabs at the top. Click on 'Assets', then select 'Creative'.
  2. Choose the 'Spark Ads' tab and hit the "Apply for Authorization" button.
  3. Paste the code you received from the creator into the text bar and press "Search".
  4. Once the TikTok preview pops up, hit "Confirm".
  5. Remember to separate any Spark Ads into their own ad group, as these often generate higher Click-Through Rates (CTR) compared to ads from a brand ad page.
  6. Press ' Create ' at the Ad level after your campaign and ad group are set up.
  7. Switch over from 'Create New' to the 'Spark Ads' option.
  8. Pick the post from your creative library that you want to run.
  9. While the caption is automatically generated from the creator's organic post, you'll need to choose the Call-To-Action (CTA) button and input the link to your landing page.

TikTok Spark Ads Examples + 5 Best Practices

Here are some helpful things to keep in mind to get maximum return on investment from them: 

#1: Choose to Promote Relatable Content

Content that resonates with your audience performs the best. Authenticity follows relatability. Choose organic posts hitting your customers’ pain points and videos your audience would find entertaining, informative, or inspirational. 

The best part about TikTok Spark Ads is half of your job is already done because content creators excel at building engaging TikTok content that your audience would relate to. Your task is to choose a TikTok post that’s engaging and also embraces your brand identity.

For example, see this Spark Ad from Glossier

The creator shared a personal story (a guy liking the Glossier perfume smell) authentically (walking down the street) that people could relate to without being salesy (they genuinely love the product). The result? Over 14.1M views and 559K likes.

Excellent storytelling, emotional appeal, and high relatability are the three pillars exceptionally well-performing Spark Ads stand on. 

#2: Prefer Micro-Influencers Over Celebrities

Micro-influencers are influencers who have a following of anywhere between 5,000 to 150,000. They’re experts in their field with a small but highly engaged following. Think of them as your influencers-next-door, compared to celebrities who don’t feel remotely as relatable.

Despite their small size, they boast a higher engagement rate than macro-influencers and are much more cost-effective to partner with

Partner with micro-influencers for creating TikTok Spark Ads — they’re much more likely to respond to your request, create more relatable content, and provide you with a better ROI. 

Take Nerrisa Stewart’s Spark Ad for blender company, Blendjet

Blendjet Spark Ad Example
Source: @rissarecharged

With under 100k followers, her videos are highly relatable because of her persona and the pain points she hits — being a busy mom wanting to find time for her health. 

Search for micro-influencers who are already talking about your product. If you’re brand new in the market, try product seeding (sending your product for free, no strings attached) to relevant micro-influencers and ask for usage rights from creators who post about your brand.      

#3: Match Your CTA With Your Goal

Your TikTok Spark Ad will contain a call-to-action (CTA) button redirecting users on what to do next. Your CTA button must match your goals:

  • If you aim to boost app installs, “Download” is a good choice
  • If you want to increase sign-ups or free trials, write “Sign up now”
  • If you’re driving traffic to a particular product page, use “Shop Now” as your CTA

The more specific your call-to-action is, the better. Vague CTAs, like “Learn more,” don’t tell watchers what exactly they should do or expect. 

For example, below is a great Spark Ad by the shoe brand, Vessi. But the only mistake? The “Learn more” CTA doesn’t give an actionable step to viewers — a costly miss,  especially when the creator has a personalized promo code to share. 

Vessi Spark Ad Example
Source: @sightseeingsenorita

Remember to hit the nail on the head in your call-to-action to boost conversions and make it easier for potential customers to take the desired next step.  

#4:Rely on Data Instead of Your Gut

One of the creatives below decreased customer-acquisition-cost (CAC) by 52% on Facebook & TikTok for fitness brand FNX Fitness. The other two are yet to drive a single purchase. 

FNX Fitness Spark Ad Example
Source: Twitter
  • The first creator is a genuine product adopter sharing an in-depth review of the product
  • The second influencer found the product so good she shared it with her mom — “influenced” her in the literal sense
  • The third creator posted a high-quality photo of the product with a one-line opinion and clear branding

Guess the winner?

When we asked this on Twitter, 80% of people chose the “so good I told my mom” option. They were wrong — just like us.

The winner was drumrolls a simple photo of the product. It might sound counterintuitive, but that’s what the data shows.

Most content creation rules — like “having the person’s face” or “hitting all the product’s marketing points” — are arbitrary. Past performance doesn’t guarantee future success.

Take away the choice by relying on data. Make a few big swings in your Spark Ads, scrap back the obvious losers, and double down on what’s gaining traction. 

#5: Housekeeping TikTok Spark Ads

You need to be aware of a few admin things before running a TikTok Spark Ad to avoid any mishaps in the future: 

  • Be careful with the audio choice. Only choose royalty-free or branded clips or audios you have the right to use to avoid any expensive copyright claims
  • Remember, if you’re boosting a duetted or stitched TikTok, you need permission from all creators featured to turn it into a Spark Ad
  • Creators generate a video code to turn their organic post into a Spark Ad for a fixed duration (seven, 30, or 60 days). Ask creators to renew the authorization period if you want to continue the Spark Ad beyond the selected time

TikTok Spark Ads: The Best of Both Worlds

This step-by-step guide to creating Spark Ads gives you a clear roadmap to kick-start your journey with this ad format.

TikTok Spark Ads combine the best of both worlds by combining paid advertising with natural, user-generated content. As proven by brands like Isle of Paradise and Glossier, this ad format mimics the native feel of TikTok, offering higher engagement, conversion rates, and a better overall viewer experience compared to Regular TikTok Ads.