This week I take a look at TikTok’s new ad feature called Branded Mission and how K18 tested it out first.
In mid-May, hair-care brand K18 was among the first few beauty brands to test out a new TikTok ad feature called Branded Mission.
Branded Mission allows advertisers to solicit user-generated videos in a more controlled way beyond the usual call to action within the popular hashtag challenge feature. Though TikTok quickly became the go-to app for beauty brands to advertise and market, attribution and video relevancy have been persistent issues. The prevalence of hashtag hijacking – using more than one hashtag on a video, despite the irrelevancy – means brands have difficulty understanding the level of authentic engagement. In essence, Branded Mission helps brands promote user-generated content that better aligns with their goals.
For brands, TikTok views this as a new add-on tool within more extensive campaigns. In the case of bond-building brand K18, it’s running a 60-day hashtag challenge #K18hair4u which shows off people’s healthy hair after using K18, paired with an original audio clip. TikTok is beta-testing Branded Mission across 12 international markets with undisclosed invite-only brands. Branded Mission will launch widely around the third quarter of 2022.
“Whereas the hashtag challenge asks the entire TikTok community to create content, [Branded Mission] asks a much more focused group of creators who love hair and who would make sense to create content for K18. It’s more targeted,” said Michelle Miller, svp of marketing for K18.
A TikTok spokesperson said TikTok saw Branded Mission as an opportunity to bring users further into brand campaigns via active content development.
“We’re seeing a lot of value in niche communities — creators who maybe don’t have 10 million followers on the platform, maybe they have 1,000,” said the spokesperson in an interview. “The idea with brands and Branded Mission is to open your [campaign] brief to those kinds of people to allow them to get creative and to be authentic with your brand.”
TikTok users with more than 1,000 followers will receive a push notification when a brand sets up Branded Mission; it invites users to produce content and submit it to the brand through the in-app Branded Mission page. Brands can then view the submissions and select which ones to add to their campaign. TikTok will rank videos based on the highest engagement and views so brands can quickly parse through submissions. K18 specifically looked for healthy hair transformation videos, whether at home or in a salon, and from both stylists and customers.
In exchange for branded content videos, TikTok users receive exposure as their videos are promoted and amplified on TikTok’s For You page by a brand. They also receive a monetary payment. Payment varies between campaigns, but includes a base payment and additional payment based on video performance, as listed on the Branded Mission submission page. K18 is incentivizing people via a sweepstake that includes a $500 Sephora gift card and K18 products, following the 60-day campaign. TikTok said it is responsible for cash payments to creators but declined to share what the specific base pay and performance pay are.
From May 12-18, the Branded Mission campaign generated 1,205 user-created ad submissions and resulted in 50 million views tied to the hashtag #K18hair4u. Overall, it drove 34 million impressions. It also led to a 32% increase in TikTok followers to 89,700 users and generated $1.7 million in earned media value for the brand — a 157% increase from the average week, according to K18 data. TikTok declined to comment on how much Branded Mission videos accounted for the views and impressions.
Branded Mission also serves as an organized and official way for brands to work with micro-influencers and for TikTok to earn some money for the paid feature in the process. The positive sales performance of micro-influencers versus mega-influencers on Instagram is well established at this point, and brands like Benefit have even taken to incubating their own micro-influencers in the past.
K18 has crafted a TikTok personality around “entertaining education,” which includes a mascot called Peppi the Peptide, said Miller. In February, the brand also launched a massive hashtag challenge-focused TikTok campaign using the tag #K18hairflip, which amassed over 9.5 billion views.
“[TikTok] takes a lot of elbow grease. While we’ve invested a great deal of our budget towards this platform, it’s not something you can just throw money at,” said Miller.
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