The MENA Independent Agency landscape is fast-evolving, and one of the largest and most accomplished in the space is Assembly, a multi-award-winning brand performance agency, with a roster of regional and international clients including Landmark Group, Gulf Marketing Group, and Al Tayer Group.
With strengths in E-commerce and Retail, Assembly were one of the first regional independents to utilise the potential of TikTok’s full-funnel product suite. Early campaign successes prompted Assembly’s leadership to agree on a working partnership with TikTok, to ensure their competitive edge in performance was sustained:
“We had already achieved successes with TikTok, but the platform was evolving at such a rapid pace, we wanted to create a partnership structure that ensured we led this evolution, not followed it” says Dean.
In 2021, the two partners set about planning a collaboration to strengthen inhouse product confidence with a series of bespoke initiatives following TikTok’s ‘Learn, Link, and Leap’ principles. The plan was formed ‘bottoms up’ and designed to instil fundamentals before layering in vertical expertise and a measurement framework.
Learning the basics with the #ForFPMX Day
TikTok has seen a rapid transformation in the past 18 months and education is a continual requirement for agencies:
‘If there is one constant at TikTok, it is change’ says Afzal and ‘…we are cognizant of the need to provide hands-on training for teams, to ensure absolute confidence when planning with our products, to this end, we created the #ForFPMX day’.
During the one day event, the #ForFPMX day, TikTok experts presented best practices for product adoption, an overview of current and future product launches, and creative optimisation techniques, for maximising full-funnel strategies.
Breakout sessions allowed planners to get hands on with the app and a ‘no holds barred’ Q&A allowed the teams to ask any product queries they had to a panel of TikTok experts. The whole event was ‘…designed to be interactive and immersive, a look under the hood of the TikTok app …’ added Afzal.
‘The comprehensive event was insightful and effectively showcased TikTok as a full funnel solution for our advertisers’ stated Dean.
With a significant volume of Assembly’s client business in the mid to lower funnel, the #ForFPMX day was followed by a specialized learning agenda called ‘Auction Academy’.
The modular program included bidding strategies, ad formats, performance solutions and reporting, as well as measurement and how to leverage creative formats to make effective TikTok’s.
Linking theory with practice
The cornerstone of the partnership lay in a mutually shared ‘test and transform’ philosophy. A/B Testing of products and processes was at the heart of this philosophy, with communication and transparency underpinning it.
Any performance expert knows that creativity is a disproportionate driver of performance, and no more so than on TikTok.
“We extended consultancy services to the agency to help them best utilise TikTok’s Creator Marketplace to unleash the full potential of TiKTok’s creator eco-system and to boost the adoption of spark ads” stated Afzal.
This creator-led content approach was then A/B tested against brand-led creatives. Moreover, the A/B testing expanded to include bid strategies to gain a deeper understanding of the metrics that matter, all of which, Dean credits as creating an ‘…internal culture of innovation, learning and performance’.
Winning Black Friday
As the year progressed, Black Friday came into focus as a test bed of the learnings the partnership had garnered. With a plethora of E-commerce Retail accounts, Black Friday was the most critical event of the year.
‘We worked with TiKTok to undertake A/B tests that compared Creator-led vs Brand-led approaches, a comparison of bid strategies’ states Dean.
This learning was further enhanced by consultation on content strategies and creative templates. ‘TikTok’s role in driving performance as part of an integrated strategy was significant, resulting in an approximately 250% increase in share of media budget YoY.’ remarked Dean.
Leaping into 2022.
With Black Friday having recently passed, the team is now crunching the numbers to showcase the overall brand lift, purchase intent and actual sales that TikTok was able to drive during the shopping festival: ‘Anecdotal evidence is positive, and we’re excited to see and apply the findings in the new year’ stated Dean.
The partnership is only getting started. Plans are already in the works to continue to focus on joint areas of priorities including creator enablement, performance auction excellence and measurement acceleration.