TikTok Themes from SXSW

TikTok Themes from SXSW

Managing Partner Jennifer Sudo was invited by TikTok to join their Independent Agency event at SXSW recently. Here are some of the themes that emerged over the course of the event. Thank you to TikTok for inviting us!

Key topics and takeaways:

Overall themes centered around; the popularity of TikTok as a platform, measurement, and creative needs.

Platform popularity:

  • Though the growth of TikTok as a marketing channel has been huge, many brands are still just getting started. Brands recognize the importance because so many people are spending their time on TikTok. 2024 projections show that U.S. adults will spend nearly 20% of their social media time on TikTok

Older generations are using TikTok, 25% of 50-59 year-olds and 16% of 60-64-year-olds in the US use TikTok.


  • Measurement and attribution were discussed repeatedly with a move away from last-click attribution. Instead, measurement methods are being expanded to enable the true impact of ads. Other attribution methods to consider include:
    • view-through attribution
    • multi-touch attribution
    • match market testing
    • brand lift studies
    • post-purchase studies
    • foot traffic studies
  • The path to conversion isn’t linear and therefore advertisers should not focus on building a linear path to purchase funnel. People are engaging and re-engaging at many different points in their customer journey and it’s important to understand what can influence people at each of those stages.


  • Brands and agencies should be curious about their customers, as well as rely on data. Keeping on track of trends (on and off the platform)  and knowing what customers are seeking is essential to success. 
  • Looking at customer reviews and comments on your own brand (and/or competitor’s) posts/ads can provide valuable insight to inform creative ideas and what communities are seeking.
  • Advertisers should not wait for tentpole events to run campaigns on TikTok. Instead, running an ‘always on’ creative strategy with an aim to test and learn will lead to stronger creative results during key periods. Creative should be constantly tested to enable ongoing improvements.
  • Be prepared to take risks, for example, test new formats, seek adjacent communities & creators, and trial different creative concepts and messages. 
  • There isn’t a playbook for TikTok; what works for one brand may not for another so testing is key.
  • Remember that TikTok is an entertainment platform first and foremost, so it is ok to let content tell a story, allow the story to develop, and then introduce the brand 10-20 seconds into the story. This goes against best practice on many other platforms where introducing the brand within 5 seconds is preferred. Remember, what works on one video may not work on the next so plenty of creative testing is important.


  • Like in many industries, AI will transform the creative production process and significantly reduce timelines for the development of creative.
  • Social commerce will see greater adoption. Advertisers should focus on how to integrate their shopping catalogs now to be prepared.
  • In a more privacy-centric landscape, creativity will help continue to drive growth.

Further resources

Interested in how we help brands manage successful TikTok campaigns? Find out more with these useful related resources:

Contact us to set up a call with Jennifer Sudo or our Data and Analytics team to ensure your campaigns reach their goals.