Do we skip ads on sight?


At Social Garden, user-generated content (UGC) campaigns are becoming more integral to our clients’ success.

TikTok has become an indispensable tool in the advertising industry, and our dependence on it continues to rise. However, compared to our fast-commerce cousin America, we are still operating in an early-maturity phase.

Of TikTok’s 100 million monthly users, Australia makes up a pretty bold 7 million accounts — the majority being Gen Z! That’s a lot of scrolling. But we don’t see those wild numbers on paid assets in the same way as an organic post.

It’s an issue faced by all industries, but it becomes even more evident that something about our ads isn’t quite landing when we look at our US friends. If we compare two ads from the TikTok ads library, we can see a pretty huge difference in results.

When typically reviewing the top-performing creative (measured by CTR) between Australia and the US, we can see a 99% increase in engagement. The only huge variable between the two is that the Australian asset features very branded overlays, which we typically see with eCommerce creative.

This leads us to a couple of hypotheses:

  1. Marketers in Australia may be less willing to trust TikTok and spend the appropriate budget, or
  2. Viewers on TikTok are less willing to engage with assets that are overly branded.

Last 7 days, eCommerce, CTR 

Australia Likes Comments Shares
#1 Generic Mobile Game 288 0 1
United States
#1 Shoe Brand 1204 61 25

How do paid vs organic assets perform on TikTok?

TikTok engagement is vastly different between paid ads vs organic — just check out the engagement on these assets for eCommerce powerhouse, The Oodie.

  • Oodie Paid: 7K likes, 148 comments, 68 shares
  • Oodie Organic: 58.7K likes, 419 comments, 412 shares

Comment your story times to be featured in our next video! 🤗 #TheOodie #Oodie #OodieSquad

♬ original sound – The Oodie

These stats open up a conversation around whether companies should even be investing in paid channels at the moment, when there is that sweet, sweet organic reach to be earned. (But we’ll unpack organic reach more in our next blog.)

We want to explore if overly branded content has an impact on how our Gen-Z users consume content. Can they spot something that reeks of ‘failure to understand the platform’? Do they immediately skip over your hard work?

Can users immediately spot non-native content? 

We brought four Gen-Z individuals into the Damn Good office to review a number of TikToks that I found naturally while scrolling. This collection contained a good mix of paid assets, organic assets from a brand, and just plain old organic assets.


We wanted to check their behaviour when suddenly scrolling upon these ads — is there an unconscious bias to anything that looks out of place on their feed, and do our current social ad practices resonate with this younger generation?

Our users viewed these assets with the freedom to skip or provide any commentary where they felt necessary. You can view the results here:

Pretty interesting, don’t you think?

Typically, the user was able to spot ads quite quickly. But surprisingly, many still watched for their full duration; this was mostly those ads in the native TikTok format (think casual, low branding, use of in-platform functionality — bonus points go to DoorDash!).

Our guinea pigs skipped certain paid ads almost immediately if they were overly branded. I’m looking at you, Blackmores & KFC.

Interestingly, all of our users mentioned that they were happy to receive ads and thought that there was a place for businesses to have a go. Many mentioned that they don’t find brands through searching anymore — they almost always find new brands and products through referrals, or through them appearing organically on their feed.

However, they said that brands weren’t very creative on the platform, or were creative in a way that didn’t actually help communicate what they were offering.

Is there a key to success in TikTok advertising right now? 

Fear not! Not all ads need to strip away your branding or fully change your tone of voice.

A good example is our users’ response to an ad for reMarkable. Despite it not being a ‘funny or random’ ad, one user noted that she’s happy to sit and watch a longer narrative, as long as it’s captivating and interesting! But it’s worth noting that you should always keep an eye on ad duration; nearly all long-form content was skipped around the 20–30 second mark for both paid AND organic!

The bottom line here is that your content really needs to be channel fit! If you saw my YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram you would think it was three separate people, but ultimately it makes up my personality. And your channels should be the same! Ask yourself what the role of your TikTok is, and if you would honestly engage with its content.

If you’re a budding TikTok marketer and your boss is breathing down your neck to include more branded elements, try and think about your narrative framework so it’s engaging and adds value for the viewer. And always trim down the fat!

TikTok is on its way to becoming the most relevant and powerful tool in your arsenal. If you’re ROI focused, then you might want to pull back on the design work. People will love you for it.


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