Skip to content

Experiment: We Spent $345 on Spark Ads on TikTok. Here’s What Happened

TikTok ads already reach nearly 885 million people worldwide, which makes them a valuable addition to your strategy. But what can you expect?

Michelle Cyca May 24, 2022
cover illustration

If you’re thinking about getting started on TikTok ads (specifically Spark Ads), you’re not alone. TikTok’s ad revenue is expected to triple in 2022, with more businesses than ever using paid promotions to amplify their reach on the platform.

TikTok ads already reach nearly 885 million people worldwide, and up to 81.3% of Americans over 18, which makes them a valuable addition to your social media ad strategy. But what can you expect?

We were curious ourselves, so we did a little experiment. Check out our results below, along with our top takeaways to inform your own strategy.

Bonus: Get a free TikTok Growth Checklist from famous TikTok creator Tiffy Chen that shows you how to gain 1.6 million followers with only 3 studio lights and iMovie.


You can run different types of ads on TikTok, but we wanted to test Spark Ads. These were only added to the TikTok Ad Manager in June 2021, and allow brands to promote organic content in the feed— similar to the Boost Post option for Facebook.

A unique feature of Spark Ads is that you can not only use your own organic content — you can also promote posts by other creators (like user-generated content), as long as you have permission. This allows businesses to leverage positive word-of-mouth from influencers and customers, and saves them the effort of creating an ad themselves.

If you’re using your own content, Spark Ads have another benefit. Unlike regular In-Feed Ads, the engagement generated by Spark Ads is attributed back to the original post, which extends the reach of your content and gives your channel’s engagement metrics a lift.

We decided to test two Spark Ads with different objectives. One ad was focused on community interactions, with the goal of driving more users to our profile. Our other ad objective was video views.

Our goal for these campaigns was the same: we wanted to see how leveraging our top-performing content could help us reach a wider audience and grow our community.

Here’s a breakdown of each campaign.

Ad Campaign 1: Video Views

video views

Budget: $150 USD

Campaign length: 3 days

Audience: We kept it as broad as possible, including male and female users of all ages and all regions.

Ad Campaign 2: Community Interactions

Budget: $195 USD

Campaign length: 3 days

Audience: Same as above.


Overall, we saw solid results from both campaigns. While they both performed pretty well, our Video Views campaign had an edge. Here’s a breakdown of how the two campaigns compared across the same metrics.

ResultAd Campaign 1: Video ViewsAd Campaign 2: Community Interactions
Video Views51.2k ($0.002 per view)43.2k ($0.004 per view)
New Followers45 ($3.33 per new follower)6 ($31.66)
Likes416 ($0.36 per like)362 ($0.54 per like)

And here’s a breakdown on how each campaign performed, based on its target outcomes:

Ad Campaign 1: Video Views


🚨NEW TREND ALERT🚨 get ready to shake your tail feathers with these moves 🤪 dc: @besperon & Owly #WheresOwly

♬ Sunroof – Nicky Youre & dazy

The majority of our ad budget was spent on users aged 13-17, who had the most impressions and the lowest cost across the metrics we tracked. On average, users watched our video for 7.65 seconds. Our ad performed equally well among women and men, and we had the most impressions from users in Canada, the UK, and the USA.

Although video views were the goal of the campaign, we saw a nice boost to our followers and likes. As you can see from the table above, this campaign generated almost eight times as many new followers as the Community Interactions campaign. We also received 466 profile visits.

While this is just one experiment, it’s a reminder that the best way to win over audiences is through exceptional content. Spark Ads allow you to get your best-performing videos in front of more people, prompting them to follow you if they like what they see.

Ad Campaign 2: Community Interactions


try this hack yourself 🙌💯

♬ original sound – edsheeransgingerpub3s 😘🤪

The goal of this campaign was to drive users to our profile. For our $195 USD, we received 2,198 profile visits over the course of the campaign — a click-through rate (CTR) of 4.57%. For context, SmartInsights found the average CTR for Instagram feed ads is just 0.22%, and Facebook’s CTR is 1.11%

Our cost-per-click was $0.09— which is pretty good when you consider the average CPC for Facebook Ads is $0.50.

The majority of our ad spend went towards users aged 18-24, who yielded the most clicks. However, users aged 35-44 had the highest click-through rate. Our ad was more successful among male users, and as with our Video Views campaign, we saw the most impressions in the USA, Canada, and the UK.

What Makes a Great TikTok Spark Ad?

We got some insider advice from the folks at TikTok, who offered a few tips for choosing content to promote through Spark Ads. They recommend choosing videos that draw from these four brand pillars:

  • Relatable. Content that will resonate with your audience and feels authentic and genuine. This is where it pays off to truly understand your social media audience.
  • Aspirational. Videos that are positive and focused on your brand’s achievements or status tend to perform well. Just make sure you’re not straying from that first pillar of relatability! Content that’s too polished or slick isn’t a fit with the creative, spontaneous spirit of the platform. As TikTok says: “Don’t make ads, make TikToks.”
  • Inspirational. Content that demonstrates mastery of valuable skills. What does your audience care about? What are their ambitions? For Hootsuite, these are social media managers and professionals looking to hone their skills.
  • Informative. The best content does more than just entertain, or help someone kill a few minutes as they’re waiting for their toast to pop. Focus on content that has valuable insights, like tutorials or helpful tips.

5 Top Takeaways from Spending $350 on TikTok Spark Ads

1. TikTok Ads offer bang for your buck compared to other networks

The biggest thing we noticed in our experiment was the value. While we didn’t spend a ton of money, we did see pretty good ROI for our target objectives and other outcomes. This is particularly striking when you compare the click-through and cost-per-click rates to other social media ad platforms.

This finding is backed up by our Social Trends 2022 report. We surveyed 14,850 marketers, who reported that Instagram and Facebook had become less effective between 2020 and 2021. Meanwhile, TikTok is being perceived as increasingly valuable — with a 700% increase in marketers describing it as effective for reaching their business goals in 2021.

This might have something to do with saturation. Ads have been around on platforms like Facebook and Instagram for a long time, which could lead to advertising fatigue among audiences. And it might also be the result of using Spark Ads, which leverage organic content. That means our ads blended in with the rest of the content in users’ feeds.

2. You don’t need to spend a lot to see results

We didn’t put a lot of money behind either campaign, but were impressed to see such positive results. Because you can spend as little as $20 USD per day on your ads, you can start on almost any budget.

TikTok Spark Ads are great for businesses who are just figuring out their ad budget, because they allow you to give your best-performing organic content a boost. This is one of the most reliable ad strategies, since you’ve already tested the content with your current audience.

That brings us to our next takeaway…

3. ABC (Always Be Calibrating)

The secret to success in any social media advertising? You should always be testing your content and refining your strategy.

For this experiment, we didn’t put too much thought behind the campaigns we chose. We just went with recent content that performed well. But a smarter strategy is testing short campaigns with different content and target audiences to see what drives the strongest results. With each iteration, your ad strategy improves.

Even an ad that performs well has a finite lifespan. TikTok recommends changing your ads every seven days, otherwise your viewers will get sick of it.

4. Experiment with different objectives

TikTok Spark Ads offer a number of different objectives that you can choose from for your campaign. It’s worth testing them out as you calibrate your ad strategy, in order to figure out which ones yield the best results.

We noticed that both our campaigns had positive outcomes beyond their designated objective: our Community Interactions campaign generated video views, and our Video Views campaign generated a surprising number of followers and likes.

That said, an ad campaign is only successful if it supports your business goals. Don’t get too carried away by vanity metrics that don’t translate into conversions or meaningful customer engagement.

5. You’ll learn something from each campaign

While we’re labeling this experiment a success, a reminder that even a so-so result is informative. If your ad campaign falls flat, you have the opportunity to learn from it and try something different next time: fresh creative, a different target audience, a new objective.

We’ll be applying what we learned in this experiment to our next foray into TikTok advertising, with greater confidence and a better understanding of what the platform has to offer.

Bonus: Get a free TikTok Growth Checklist from famous TikTok creator Tiffy Chen that shows you how to gain 1.6 million followers with only 3 studio lights and iMovie.

Do it better with Hootsuite, the all-in-one social media tool. Stay on top of things, grow, and beat the competition.

Free 30-Day Trial

Become a better social marketer.

Get expert social media advice delivered straight to your inbox.

By Michelle Cyca

Michelle Cyca is a writer, editor, and digital content strategist. Offline, she likes hefty magazines, public libraries, all-day breakfasts, and bike rides.

Related Articles