TikTok might be the fastest growing video sharing app on the planet, but Instagram is still going strong in the social media world. This has created a debate amongst marketers. Instagram Reels vs TikTok ads — which is better?
When the higher-ups at The Gram started to take note of TikTok’s growing popularity, they decided to put their own twist on the short-form video format with Instagram Reels. Like YouTube shorts, Instagram Reels are 15 to 90-second videos set to music or other audio that Instagram users can create and share within the app. They can be shared by creators alongside Instagram’s traditional photo content. However, users can also effortlessly swipe endlessly through a feed of Instagram Reels much like they would on TikTok.
Logically, the big brains at Instagram have enabled brands to run ads within Instagram Reels. This draws an inevitable comparison between the two ad formats – Instagram Reels vs TikTok ads. So, let’s take a deep dive into the key differences between Instagram Reels ads and TikTok ads. This will help you decide which one is right for your marketing goals.
Instagram Reels vs TikTok Ads – What’s the Difference?
Although quite similar in many ways there are a few differences between Instagram Reels ads and TikTok ads. It could make all the difference when it comes to your marketing goals. Here are the key features of both ad formats.
TikTok ads are short videos that appear between users’ organic content. In-Feed ads can be up to 60 seconds long and use TikTok’s creative tools to produce engaging, creative content. Top View and Brand Takeover ads appear first thing when users open the app, allowing for excellent brand awareness potential. Brands can use existing video assets or create new ones specifically for TikTok Ads.
Instagram Reels Ads
Instagram Reels ads can be up to 90 seconds long and appear in users’ Instagram Reels feeds. They can be produced using Instagram’s creative tools or existing video assets. Users can scroll past them if they’re not interested. They blend seamlessly with other Instagram content, which makes them a very unobtrusive means of advertising.
This all sounds pretty similar, and on the face of it, there isn’t much of a difference between Instagram Reels ads and TikTok ads. But that doesn’t mean advertising will have the same outcome on each platform. The key to success with both is understanding the subtle differences between these platforms and using them to your advantage.
Which Option is Better for Marketers?
There is no simple answer when it comes to Instagram Reels vs TikTok ads. Both have their pros and cons, and the best option for your brand will ultimately depend on your marketing goals. Let’s break down some of the key advantages and disadvantages between the two platforms and see how they stack up.
Advantages of TikTok Ads
1. TikTok Ads perform better for most key metrics (installs, sales, registrations etc.)
At House of Marketers, we’ve found that TikTok offers marketers a chance to improve upon their Facebook/Instagram performances. That’s why we built our marketing agency around the TikTok platform.
2. The TikTok community is much more engaged
TikTok users are incredibly engaged, and they’re used to seeing short, snackable content in their feed. This makes them more likely to watch an ad all the way through, giving you a better chance of getting your message across. Unlike Instagram, TikTok is solely a video-sharing platform, so video ads are right at home. Instagram started out as a photo-sharing app that also allows video content, and it’s still primarily known for its photos.
3. TikTok offers more creative tools & effects
Perhaps one of TikTok’s best features is its creative tools. Although Instagram does provide users with editing tools, TikTok provides a much wider range of creative options. This includes AR effects, filters, and Green Screen. TikTok creators have always raved about the platform’s creative freedom, and it’s something brands can take advantage of when advertising.
“TikTok’s music library is unrivalled. It features a vast selection of songs and sound effects that can be used in your videos. This gives you more freedom to create creative content, and you don’t have to worry about copyright issues. Instagram, on the other hand, only allows business accounts to use licensed music, which can limit your creativity.”
4. TikTok’s expansive music library (that’s free to use)
TikTok’s music library is unrivalled. It features a vast selection of songs and sound effects that can be used in your videos. This gives you more freedom to create creative content, and you don’t have to worry about copyright issues. Instagram, on the other hand, only allows business accounts to use licensed music, which can limit your creativity. TikTok’s viral songs and audio clips are one of the main reasons why the platform is so popular. And they can be used to great effect in your ads. While Instagram did release a feature that allows creators to use audio from someone else’s reel, it’s not as widely used as TikTok’s.
5. TikTok offers a wide range of targeting options
TikTok’s targeting options are incredibly robust, allowing you to laser-focus your ad campaigns. You can target by location, age, gender, interests, and even behaviours. Instagram’s targeting options are also good, but they’re not as comprehensive as TikTok’s. This is one of the main reasons why TikTok is so effective for performance-based marketing campaigns.
6. TikTok’s unique user demographics make it an ideal platform for targeting Gen Z
TikTok is incredibly popular with Gen Z. It is one of the main reasons why the platform is so appealing to brands. Instagram is also popular with this age group, but not as much. TikTok offers a unique opportunity to reach this engaged demographic with a global spending power of over $100 billion.
One of the key traits of this group is that they’re hyper aware of when they’re being sold to. That’s why it’s important for brands to ensure that ads fit seamlessly with the content this audience enjoys consuming. As the digital home of Gen Z, TikTok is one of the best platforms to do just that.
7. TikTok creators are more cost-effective to work with
Instagram has been around much longer, and this has led to the inflation in costs with Instagram influencers. Working with TikTok creators can be much more cost-effective for most brands.
8. TikTok provides more in-depth performance analysis
Initially, TikTok’s algorithm was largely kept under wraps, and there was little understanding of how it worked. However, in 2020 TikTok released more information on its algorithm, which helped marketers to better understand how to reach their target audience. If you’re running TikTok ads, you will have access to a wide range of performance metrics, allowing you to dig deep and analyse your results. This enhances the process of tracking ROI and optimising ad campaigns.
Advantages of Instagram Reels Ads
1. Instagram is a mature platform with a wide range of features
Instagram was founded over a decade ago, which is a long time in Internet years. This makes it one of the more mature social media platforms that are still popular today. Instagram has had time to build up a comprehensive suite of features that allow marketers to run campaigns with ease.
2. Instagram is relatively uncontroversial
Instagram has managed to play it safe over the years and has avoided the major scandals that have affected other social media platforms. As such, the app is widely available throughout most of the world. There is no fear of it being banned in any Western country. This makes Instagram a good option if you’re looking to run ad campaigns in a stable environment.
3. Instagram has great brand awareness
Instagram is owned by Facebook’s parent company Meta, which means it comes with the added bonus of great brand awareness. The platform also benefits from integration with other Meta products, such as What’s App, which allows for easy cross-promotion. This type of brand awareness is helpful when running ad campaigns since Instagram is already a trusted name among users.
“However, there is a caveat — Instagram has a bit of a bot problem. A certain percentage of its “active” user base may not even be human. Some estimates put this figure at over 9%, meaning that almost one in ten IG accounts are fake. This is something to keep in mind when running Instagram ad campaigns. You may not be reaching as many people as you think.”
4. Instagram has a large user base
Over 2 billion people worldwide use Instagram at least once a month. This makes it one of the largest social media platforms in use today. Such a large user base gives you a lot of potential reach when running ad campaigns.
Instagram is also growing rapidly with no signs of slowing down. It actually accounts for over 50% of Meta’s total revenue, which means that it is now overtaking Facebook in popularity. However, there is a caveat — Instagram has a bit of a bot problem. A certain percentage of its “active” user base may not even be human. Some estimates put this figure at over 9%, meaning that almost one in ten IG accounts are fake. This is something to keep in mind when running Instagram ad campaigns. You may not be reaching as many people as you think.
5. Instagram welcomes more polished content
Whether this is a pro or a con really depends on what you are trying to promote. Instagram’s feed has a slightly more minimalist feel, and the platform generally welcomes more polished content. This can be an advantage if you’re promoting a brand or product that requires a certain level of sophistication. However, it can be a disadvantage if you’re trying to reach a more casual audience. Your content may come across as too contrived.
What’s the Verdict?
In the end, it really depends on what you’re trying to achieve with your ad campaign. However, we undoubtedly recognise that TikTok is the best route for most brands in 2022 and beyond, from a performance perspective.
TikTok is at the cutting edge of social media. The platform’s quirky format is perfect for promoting products and brands in a fun and disruptive way. You can create campaigns that break the mould and really get people talking. So, if you’re feeling brave, go forth and TikTok!
House of Marketers (HOM) is a leading TikTok Marketing Agency. Our global agency was built by early TikTok Employees & TikTok Partners, which gives us the insider knowledge to help leading brands, like Redbull, Playtika, Badoo, and HelloFresh win on TikTok. Want us to convert more of Gen Z and Millennials with TikTok? Get in touch with our friendly team, here.