YouTube vs TikTok Ads: Which Should I Choose?

March 31, 2023
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YouTube sees 2.2 billion users logging in every month, and over 7 billion hours of video watched each week alone. On the other hand, TikTok was the most downloaded app in 2021, and boasts 1 billion active users every month. Indeed, both platforms have been known to increase a brand’s awareness, reach, engagement, and profit with a successful ad campaign.

This poses one big question: Which should I choose? Both platforms are a viable option for an effective ad campaign, so the decision comes down to you and your specific brand — but there are some clear factors to consider before you make a final decision between the two. 

1. Target Audience

To determine which platform is best for you, you should first consider TikTok vs. Youtube’s largest audience.

TikTok is most popular with younger audiences, with over 50% of the anticipated audience aged 10-29. Indeed, as reported by Hootsuite, TikTok has now surpassed Instagram for popularity among Gen Z users (born between 1997 and 2012) in the United States, with 37.3 million to Instagram’s 33.3 million. This makes it a more viable option for brands looking to target a younger audience.

YouTube, on the other hand, has a wider range of age groups — although 18-25 year olds still make up the majority of visitors, YouTube has a growing base of older users. Indeed, one analysis of UK demographics found that the highest share of users was aged between 25-44. 

2. Watch Time & Length

This comes down to whether you want to create short- or long-form content. Although TikTok has enabled 3-minute videos on the platform, it is more well known for videos that provide content in 60 seconds or less. For ads, in particular, marketers need to get across a message, content and call-to-action fast. Although this can be a challenge, short-form video (or “snackable content”) has been named the most popular and effective social media format in 2022. 

On the other hand, YouTube has the longest average watch-time, with creators able to post up to 15-minute videos (or longer if verified). Built-in adverts mean longer ad content can be used, and content in general has more creative freedom. As Ben Jones (Google) puts it, YouTube ads can be anything you want them to be: “effective YouTube ads [can be] an episodic docuseries, an undercover investigation, a user-narrated product review, or an interview with the CEO.” 

3. Ad Format

This comes down to the format of your ad, and where you'd like it to be placed. YouTube offers more conventional ad options, but a wider range of placements, and TikTok offers both video and interactive ads (with a few different placement choices).

YouTube offers five main types of ad. 

Discover — ads that appear on the YouTube homepage or search results.

TrueViewYouTube Ads that play before a video, and can be skipped. 

Non-Skippable Ads — ads that appear before, during, or after a video, and can’t be skipped.

Bumper — 6-second ads that play before a video.

Overlay — banner ads that appear at the bottom of a video.

There are four main types of TikTok ads. 

TopView — presents your ad on the most unmissable place on TikTok: the opening screen.

In-Feed Ads —  integrates video content into users' "For You" feed.

Branded Hashtags — invites the TikTok community to engage with your brand with a specific hashtag and intended action (e.g. a dance). 

Brand Effects — tailor-made and shareable stickers, filters, and special effects that encourage user-generated content. 

4. Cost

Cost should also be factored in. Ads start at just $10 per CPM (cost per 1000 views) on TikTok, so it's possible to make an impact at a relatively low cost, whereas most businesses invest $10 or more a day to run an advertising campaign on YouTube.

Outside of paid-for TikTok ads, there is a chance to gain traction for your business with a free branded account. This has been successful for TikTok brands who create original and authentic content that corresponds with trending hashtags, sounds and the latest memes.

5. Analytics

Good analytics are at the heart of a successful ad campaign. Analytics help you to track engagement and conversion metrics, which help you monitor creative performance — in other words, what’s gone well and not so well — and therefore assists big decisions around budget allocation and the wider campaign (future campaigns too). The good news is that both TikTok and YouTube have a comprehensive and helpful analytics tool — but you should still make sure that the platform you choose has exactly the information you need before you make a final decision.

Once you've decided on your platform, why not do it with some beautiful and bespoke ad creative?

We are Aura Ads, a unique performance creative agency designed for D2C eCommerce brands. We help clients sell more online and grow at scale with our bespoke video and static creative, delivered on a monthly basis. Find out more about our TikTok ads service on our website, and book in for a 30 minute chat about how one of our content plans can help your business grow.

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