TikTok Ads vs. Instagram Reels Ads: Which Is Winning in 2022?

Recognizing how to reach the right audiences with the right content is critical for brands in 2022.

As a result of Apple’s iOS 15 privacy updates, marketers are finding new ways to target their audiences without the help of third-party cookies. With a new, cookieless future looming, brands are turning to influencer ads on TikTok and Instagram Reels.

…but which platform is the best for your ads? Are paid ads on TikTok more likely to drive conversions than ads on Reels?

Let’s take a look at TikTok and Instagram’s short-form video formats.

TikTok Ads

TikTok is famous for its algorithm-driven For You Page’s ability to figure out exactly what you’re into very quickly. Hootsuite ran an experiment comparing TikTok and Reels, ultimately deciding that TikTok did a better job of delivering content to a broader audience. What about TikTok ads?

@elfyeah Introducing our new delicious Cookies and Dreams collection 👏 What product is catching your eye? 👀 @moodsandviews #cookiesanddreams ♬ original sound - elfyeah


TikTok’s content is more casual, less polished, and more conducive to user-generated ads. This means less production overhead and, more importantly, a perfect space for personal, authentic content where users don’t automatically feel skeptical about being sold to.

TikTok’s algorithm is nothing short of magic, as evidenced by the number of creators and media attempting to understand the bells and whistles of its algorithm. It’s famous for reaching extremely specific niches and how addicting the app can be.


TikTok’s algorithm places less emphasis on copy and hashtags and may feel like throwing content at a wall and seeing what sticks.

TikTok’s inner workings are less predictable, and their ad insights are less robust. This may be an issue for data-driven marketing teams.

The Verdict

TikTok’s ad platform, like its user experience, may feel like the wild west in terms of back-end management. It may, however, be the better option for more daring brands who aren’t afraid to experiment.

Instagram Reels Ads

Some would say Reels is Instagram’s response to the popularity of TikTok, and they may be right.

It is important, though, to recognize that Instagram’s pivot is supported by a mature ad platform and a user base locked into its other features like Stories, sharing to Facebook, and WhatsApp integration. So, what’s the difference?


Reels live in a broader Instagram world of beautiful photographs, carefully-crafted profile grids, and a more polished expectation for content than on TikTok. This “cleaner” content environment may be easier for your brand to fit into.

The platform offers robust insights, a more predictable algorithm, an emphasis on hashtags, and other features marketers have grown familiar with. You might even already use their ad platform for Meta’s other platforms.


What Instagram has done is tried and true, but Reels may be one example of playing catch-up when it comes to innovation.

Reels’ content quality may make some brands feel right at home, but it comes with a higher expectation for refined, quality content production.

The Verdict

All of the above is to be expected from a mature Meta property. Instagram has spent years building out its ad platforms and has developed a user base that expects polished and familiar content. Most marketers are already comfortable with Instagram’s systems.

Which is better?

We dug into Creatopy’s recent case study in which they ran the same ad across both platforms’ ad networks with the same spend, 15-second duration, and content.

In their findings, Instagram Reels came out on top with nearly double the reach and triple the impressions over TikTok. Reels also came out ahead in terms of cost.

Is the answer that easy? Not quite.

These experiments help understand general ad performance, but they didn’t test user-generated content with influencers, nor were they advertising an e-commerce brand’s products. You’re probably wondering, “What are the advantages of influencer marketing?”


Influencer marketing generates 11x the ROI of traditional forms of advertising, and 51% of marketers say influencer content outperforms brand-created content.

Check out our case study on Vita Coco’s IPO and Influencer Driven DTC Expansion for a great example of these campaigns.

One important note about the study is just how high the conversion costs were—$35.72 on TikTok and $28.08 on Instagram Reels. This emphasizes the importance of finding the right influencer to produce the right content, targeting the right audiences.

Demand for this ad space is high. Done right, influencer marketing can help your brand navigate this competitive ad landscape.

Take the next steps:

The benefits of influencer marketing are clear: influencers are equipped to tell your brand’s story in ways traditional digital advertising won’t cut it.

By partnering with influencers, your brand is tapping into the audiences that these online creators have built around their expertise and passions.

Wondering how to find influencers on Instagram Reels, or how to find TikTok influencers? Finding the right influencer for your brand is just one of the ways HelloConvo can help boost your brand’s visibility.

We provide e-commerce brands with best-in-class influencer marketing strategy and influencer campaign management, all designed to help brands grow faster.

Book your free strategy session with HelloConvo now to learn how to kickstart your influencer marketing strategy in 2022!

Sources: we referenced krēber’s blog, TikTok vs Reels: The Battle of Short-Form Video Advertising, in our Pros & Cons rundown.

The loop logo
Don't be left out!

Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest DTC trends and insights.