TikTok Technology

How marketers can unlock the potential of native video ads in the age of TikTok

By Alex Khan, Managing Director, APAC

August 15, 2019 | 5 min read

Step aside, TV.


For native video ads, short and snappy creatives with a clear call-to-action work best.

Consumers’ attention is moving from the small screen to the even smaller screen — the smartphone. This year marks the first time in history that US consumers are spending more time on their mobile devices than watching TV. This doesn’t mean, however, that today’s mobile users are no longer watching TV programs and video content. In fact, video is one of the most popular mobile activities, taking up nearly 20% of users’ mobile time according to eMarketer.

In 2019, people in APAC are spending an average of 164 minutes per day on the internet, more than the 152 minutes they’re expected to spend watching TV. And even as smartphones command an increasing share of users’ media time, there are no signs of this video consumption slowing down — especially with the surge of mobile video platforms such as TikTok.

Why video works on mobile

Despite the smaller screen, mobile devices are the medium where video thrives. This success is due to a combination of current technology and user behaviour.

Strong infrastructure — which includes the increasing availability of WiFi, as well as the ever-expanding 4G and soon to be 5G technologies — lead to more mobile video consumption. In the European Union, for example, there is a direct correlation between the cost of mobile data and the share of video ad requests on the Smaato platform. Countries with a low price of mobile data per gigabyte (e.g., Italy, France, Sweden) tend to have a higher share of ad requests for video formats than those in which the cost of mobile data is more expensive (e.g., Norway, Netherlands, UK).

As short-form videos become the new way of storytelling, this access to high-powered infrastructure will be increasingly important for publishers and advertisers. Millennials and Generation Z are already watching more video content on mobile than ever before. According to a study commissioned by Snapchat, for every hour spent with mobile internet, Gen Z spends 24 minutes and millennials spend 22 minutes watching videos. This time is spent increasingly with short-form video, which is typically defined as video content lasting 10 minutes or less.

According to the same study, nearly two-thirds of Millennials and Gen Z watch premium mobile short-form content weekly — and 40% watch it daily.

The native video opportunity

The current trends in mobile technology and user behaviour are opening doors for advertisers to grab users’ attention through video advertising. And considering just how much time users are spending with in-app video content, native video is especially enticing.

Native video ads blend naturally into the content of the app, following the style of the app’s native content. For this reason, native video ads create a positive user experience. Engagement isn’t forced, and the ads aren’t disruptive.

Unlocking native video’s potential

As more apps support native video ads across categories such as social, sports, health and fitness, entertainment, and more, brands have a massive opportunity to connect with huge audiences of engaged users. This is especially true as short-form video apps explode in popularity right now, as evidenced when TikTok became the most-downloaded free app in the App Store late last year.

The key to capturing these users’ attention is figuring out the right timing and visuals. For native video ads, short and snappy creatives with a clear call-to-action work best. Users become more engaged with these ads in the first six seconds, with interest dropping sharply after 22 seconds.

Many advertisers have already begun seeing the potential of native video ads. In fact, native video has begun to take ad spending share away from pre-roll video budgets. And in 2019, native video ad spending is expected to double industry-wide.

Advertisers wise to consumers’ shifting preferences will follow this trend and be rewarded with diverse audiences that are quick to engage with their advertising content.

Alex Khan is managing director, APAC at Smaato

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