Ever wondered which platform between TikTok and YouTube would give you more bang for your advertising buck? 

In 2022, the average time US adults spent on TikTok was 55.8 minutes per day, while the average time spent on YouTube was 47.5 minutes per day. This means that US adults spent an average of 8.3 minutes more time on TikTok than on YouTube.

With TikTok's explosive growth and YouTube's long standing dominance, advertisers are keen to determine the better platform for taking their share of screen time of the users.

Popularity and User Base

TikTok currently boasts around 1bn monthly active users and is particularly popular among younger demographics. The app is also still growing in popularity, so this user base is only likely to expand over time. 

YouTube attracts around 2.5bn monthly active users. The scale of the YouTube platform is absolutely enormous, and while reach isn't the only crucial factor for marketers, it's undeniably a significant bonus.

Overview of TikTok Ads

Overview of TikTok Ads

TikTok, the short-video sensation, has rapidly emerged as a go-to ad destination, especially for brands targeting a younger audience.

TikTok ad formats include In-Feed, Top View, Brand Takeover, Branded Hashtag Challenge, and Branded Effects

YouTube offers TrueView In-Stream (both skippable and non-skippable), TrueView Discovery, Bumper, Display, Overlay, and YouTube Masthead ads.

Though YouTube has unique Display placements, TikTok steals the show with high-impact formats like Brand Takeovers and Branded Hashtag Challenges.

Ad Formats

TikTok offers various ad formats tailored for maximum visibility and engagement.

  • In-Feed Ads: These ads on TikTok appear between user videos on the 'For You' page, seamlessly integrating into the user experience.
  • Brand Takeover: This is a premium ad format that offers immediate visibility. Users see these 3-5 second ads upon launching the app.
  • Hashtag Challenge: Brands can sponsor a hashtag challenge, prompting users to create and share content around a particular theme.
  • Top View Ads: These are the first thing a user sees when they open the app. A full-screen format that gets prime visibility.

Overview of YouTube Ads

Overview of YouTube Ads

YouTube, a titan in the video realm, has been a trusted ad platform for years, catering to a vast audience.

Ad Formats

YouTube provides diverse ad formats for longer engagement and broader reach.

  • Skippable Video Ads: Ads users can skip after 5 seconds, beneficial for raising brand awareness.
  • Non-Skippable Video Ads: 15-20 seconds long, ensuring viewers get the entire message.
  • Display Ads: Placed to the right of the main video and above the video suggestions list.

Ad Solution Comparison

Ad Solution Comparison

  • Engagement

When you're targeting audiences, you want them to engage with your content. TikTok and YouTube differ significantly in this regard. On TikTok, audiences can like, comment on, and even duet with sponsored posts.

In contrast, on YouTube, audiences can primarily view (and occasionally click on) video ads. So, if you're seeking profound audience engagement, TikTok stands out. While it fosters active user engagement, watching a YouTube ad tends to be more passive.

  • Buyer Intent

Targeting users with clear purchase intent is pivotal for driving high-value sales. TikTok lets marketers use 'Purchase Intent' targeting, focusing on warm prospects.

YouTube, backed by Google, allows advertisers to leverage search data, targeting customers actively seeking specific products or keywords.

Nonetheless, many Gen Z users now use TikTok alongside Google as a search tool. So, for younger shoppers, TikTok is a hotspot for purchase intent signals.

  • Target Audience Reach

While YouTube serves a broader audience, TikTok predominantly attracts the younger Gen Z.

  • Customization Features

Both platforms have rich targeting options. However, TikTok's AI-driven personalization might slightly outperform YouTube's.

  • Analytics and Metrics

YouTube's mature analytics platform offers deeper insights, while TikTok's is still evolving.

Performance Evaluation

Performance Evaluation

  • ROI (Return on Investment)

Broad campaigns might find better ROI on YouTube due to its established platform. However, TikTok's stellar engagement rates could yield higher returns for specific campaigns.

  • Engagement Rate

TikTok videos, being snappy and engaging, generally see higher engagement rates. Conversely, YouTube videos, often being longer, necessitate more commitment from viewers.

  • User Feedback

Users sometimes find YouTube ads, especially non-skippable ones, a tad intrusive. Meanwhile, TikTok's immersive ad experience is mostly well-received.


Deciding between TikTok and YouTube for advertising hinges on your target audience and campaign objectives. For engaging a younger, vibrant crowd, TikTok might be your best bet.

For extensive reach and in-depth analytics, YouTube reigns supreme. A blend of both, playing to each platform's strengths, might be the ideal strategy.

Also read

Google Ads vs. TikTok Ads: A Comprehensive Comparison
TikTok vs. Snapchat Ads: A Deep Dive into Differences and Best Practices
Facebook Ads vs. TikTok Ads: Ad Formats, Objectives and Performance


Which Platform Is More Cost-Effective for Advertising?

It varies, but for expansive campaigns, YouTube might offer better value. For specific, targeted campaigns, TikTok can be more cost-efficient.

How Intrusive Are the Ads on These Platforms?

Users tend to find non-skippable YouTube ads slightly more intrusive than TikTok ads.

Which Platform Offers Better Video Quality?

Both platforms support high-definition videos, but YouTube, catering to professional content creators, generally boasts superior video quality.

Is It Possible to Run the Same Video Ad on Both Platforms?

Yes, though tailoring the ad to each platform's unique features and audience is recommended.

Saeed Shaik
Saeed Shaik

Skilled in Ecommerce Strategy, TikTok Ads, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Facebook Ads, Social Media Marketing and DoubleClick. A strategic leader who built high performance teams grounds up generating multi-million dollar revenue streams in several startups.

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