Beginner Guide

TikTok ads 101: How to get started with TikTok advertising

In a span of just a few years, TikTok has seen massive growth in popularity and app usage. By April of 2022, it managed to reach 1 billion active users worldwide. And in our previous post on TikTok basics, we explored some of the reasons for the app’s popularity as well as how brands can market on the platform.

Besides those marketing tactics, you could also invest in paid advertising on TikTok to further boost your brand’s impact on the app’s audience. With the app’s immense popularity, TikTok ads could be a great addition to your social media advertising strategy.

But advertising on TikTok isn’t the same as advertising on other social channels. This post gives you a detailed overview of how to advertise on TikTok and what kind of ads you can use.

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    Which brands should use TikTok advertising?

    A wide range of brands advertise on TikTok—Chipotle, Guess and Fenty Beauty, for example. What these brands have in common is that their products are a natural fit for TikTok’s video format.

    TikTok advertisers can show their products in action and pack a lot of information into a short video clip. While this format may be challenging for B2B brands that sell difficult-to-illustrate services, it’s ideal for B2C brands that want to move away from static ads and share engaging content.

    Types of TikTok ads

    TikTok provides you with plenty of options to advertise on the platform. So you can choose what will be most effective in reaching your target audience and getting your message across. Here are the different types of ads you can run with the TikTok ads platform:

    • In-feed video – These are ads that appear among the native news feed of TikTok users on the “For You” page.
    • Brand takeover – This type of ad allows you to dominate the conversation as your message takes over the whole screen for a few seconds. It then turns into an in-feed video ad.
    • Spark ads – TikTok rolled out this ad type in 2021, giving brands the ability to sponsor popular organic content that relates to their products.
    • Image ads – Brands can place image ads in videos that appear via TikTok’s news feed apps: BuzzVideo, TopBuzz and Babe.
    • Video ads – These ads are full-screen videos of 5 to 60 seconds that appear in a user’s “For You” feed.
    • Pangle ads – Pandle’s video platform integrates with TikTok to offer video, native and banner ads, but this feature is available to only specific countries.
    • Carousel ads – These ads include up to 10 images and appear in TikTok’s news feed apps.
    • Branded AR content – Your ads can also appear as branded stickers, lenses and other types of AR content so TikTok users can use them in their videos.
    • Hashtag challenge – This type of ad shows up in the “Discovery” section of the app and can encourage user participation.
    • Sponsored influencer content – For this type of TikTok advertisement, you get your message across through sponsored content from an influential TikTok user.

    How to set up ads on TikTok

    Now that you know about the different types of TikTok ads, let’s take a look at how to set them up from your TikTok ad account.

    Step 1: Create your TikTok ad account

    The first step is simple: start by creating an account on the TikTok Ads Manager.

    Choose your billing country or region and then select whether you’re using the account for a business or individual. Then click on “Next.”

    tiktok ads manager first step signup

    Enter some basic information such as your email address and password. Then enter a verification code sent to your email. If you choose to sign up with your phone number, then you’ll need the verification code sent to your phone.

    Confirm that you agree to the terms and conditions, then click on “Sign Up.”

    tiktok ads manager second step signup

    Once your brand is approved, log in to your dashboard and finish the initial account setup according to the instructions. Then you can follow the steps below to create TikTok ads:

    Step 2: Create and install the TikTok Pixel

    Now you’ll need to install the TikTok Pixel—a snippet of code on your website that gathers information about site events (such as how users arrived on your site, what device they’re using and where they’re located).

    After selecting “Standard Mode” or “Developer Mode,” you’ll create your Pixel by first setting up a “Web Event” in your TikTok Ads Manager. Remember to review your cookie consent settings before deploying your Pixel. Then download or copy the Pixel code and paste it into your website header.

    Step 3: Create a new campaign

    Create an ad campaign under the “Campaigns” tab and clicking on the “Create” button.

    tiktok campaign creation first step

    This will give you the option to choose your campaign objective — whether you want to drive traffic, conversions or app installs.

    campaign objective selection

    Then give your campaign a name and set a campaign-level minimum budget. You can set a lifetime budget to quickly reach as many people as possible. But if you set a daily budget, you can gradually and steadily reach out to your target audience.

    campaign budget settings

    Step 4: Create an ad group

    Create an ad group to define audiences, campaign budgets and placements for your ads.

    Choose the promotional type or goal:

    Select either “App Install” or “Website” as your promotion type.

    Select the ad placement:

    Your choice of ad placement will determine where your ads appear on TikTok and its partner platforms. If you’re just getting started with TikTok ads, you can choose “Automatic placement” to have TikTok place your ads for maximum reach and value. You can also manually place ads across TikTok and its news feed apps.

    tiktok ad placement selection

    Select your creative type:

    Turn on the “Automated Creative Optimization” feature, and TikTok will create variations of your content and test its engagement. You can turn off this feature at any time.

    Define your target audience:

    Choose the audience for your ad by selecting location, gender and age group. You can also specify user languages, add users with specific interests and include people who have previously interacted with your content.

    tiktok ad targeting options

    Select a delivery type:

    Choose either standard or accelerated delivery. Standard delivery ensures your ad will appear during high-traffic times throughout your ad delivery period, with your ad budget spread consistently across that time frame. Accelerated delivery means your ad budget is dedicated to getting the most eyes on your ad as quickly as possible.

    Step 5: Create a new ad

    After setting up your ad group, you can configure your first ad. TikTok gives you the option to upload either a video or an image file as your ad creative. For best results, make sure you follow the recommended ad specs. This will ensure that your ad looks great on TikTok and across all the partner platforms.

    ad creative customization page

    After creating an ad to your liking, you’ll have the option to preview it and get an idea of how it’ll appear to TikTok users. At this point, you can also find out whether your ad needs some tweaking before you submit it for review.

    You can further customize your ad by naming it so it’s easier to distinguish between different ads within the same ad group. Then enter your ad text using 12-100 characters to get your message across even more effectively. This text will appear above your ad.

    Next, you’ll have the option to choose between different calls to action depending on what you want your audience to do. So you can ask your audience to “Sign Up,””Download Now,” “Contact Us,” “Book Now,” “Shop Now,” “Apply Now” or “Learn More.” Then click on “Submit” to finish creating your ad.

    Use TikTok Promote to boost existing ads

    TikTok Promote is a paid feature that lets you choose a goal—video views, website visits or new followers—and promote your video content. Select an audience, define your budget and schedule the duration of your ad, then start your promotion.

    Step 6: Measure your ad performance

    The job isn’t done after launching your ad; you should also measure your performance to see how the campaign is paying off. TikTok provides native analytics that can show you how your ad is doing in terms of impressions, clicks, conversions and more. You can even test and compare the performance of different ad creative and placements to see what works best for you.

    TikTok ad specs

    TikTok in-feed video ads must follow formatting guidelines in order to display correctly and generate engagement. Start by creating a video in TikTok’s suggested range (9 to 15 seconds), that’s less than 500MB and is one of these file types: .mp4, mov., mpeg, .3gp or .avi.

    Then consult TikTok’s list of ad specs for additional formatting guidance.

    How much do TikTok ads cost?

    TikTok closely guards its pricing algorithm, which is based on a bid model. At a minimum, campaign-level budgets should be $50/daily, and ad group level budgets must be $20/daily.

    7 examples of TikTok advertising done right

    Besides learning the basics, it’s just as important to see how other brands are using TikTok ads. This will give you a few ideas on how to run your own campaign. Check out these four examples of brands that launched brilliant advertising campaigns on TikTok:

    1. Chipotle

    Chipotle has been dominating the TikTok platform with fun and creative video content. It also nailed their influencer advertising campaign to promote their annual “Boorito” offer for Halloween. The brand roped in top influencers known for their creativity such as Brittany Broski and Zach King.

    influencer brittany broski promoting chipotle's halloween offer on tiktok

    2. Kroger

    Kroger was among the first companies to test out the TikTok “Hashtag Challenge Plus” feature. This allowed TikTok users to shop directly on the app for Kroger products tagged with the campaign hashtag. This not only encouraged user participation and brand visibility but also enhanced user experience by providing a smooth shopping functionality.

    kroger hashtag challenge showing user videos

    3. Experian

    Experian launched an in-feed TikTok ad that’s straightforward and easy to understand. It showed a simple text conversation between two friends to highlight the benefits of Experian Boost for your credit score. It also came complete with a “Download” button. Everything about this ad is great because it puts directness and simplicity at the center.

    experian ad featuring text conversation

    4. IHOP

    IHOP (International House of Pancakes) used TikTok ads to target millennials and generate buzz about its limited-time offers. It temporarily rebranded as the “International Haunted House of Pancakes” for its Halloween 2021 campaign, promoting “Scary Face” pancakes and other spooky menu items.

    The campaign reached more than 33 million users, and IHOP used behavior targeting to find the right audience. The result was a CPM that was 26% lower than TikTok’s national average.

    5. Partymachines

    Partymachines began using TikTok marketing in 2019 to expand its reach and generate more B2B sales of its foam-generating machines. (Entrepreneurs who buy the machines can then lease them to local customers.).

    One of the company’s initiatives was to use Spark Ads to find popular content featuring their product. In at least one video, the company added a voiceover about their product and invited users to comment about how they would use a Partymachine. Thanks to Shopify integration, TikTok users could click on the video, land on the Partymachines website and buy the product.

    @partymachines uses TikTok Spark Ads to drive sales and revenue.

    The Spark Ads campaign increased website traffic from TikTok by 620%. And by using existing content, Partymachines kept their advertisting costs low—just 10 cents per click.

    6. eBay

    Online marketplace eBay is a go-to destination for sneaker enthusiasts, so it launched a TikTok campaign to drive engagement with that audience. Using three different Spark Ads with Voting Sticker overlays, eBay’s “Sneaker Showdown” campaign invited users to pick the winning shoes in a bracket-style tournament.

    The campaign—which coincided with the NCAA basketball tournament— resulted in a 54% increase in eBay’s comment rate, and 1.2 million users participated in the poll.

    7. Kooapps

    Kooapps wanted to increase awareness of its mobile game “” and drive installs in the United States. It found two TikTok users who had created content showing how the game is played and partnered with them to produce Spark Ads.

    Within two weeks of launching the campaign, app installs increased by 67% among US users.

    TikTok advertising best practices

    To get the best results from your TikTok ad campaigns, follow these best practices:

    Stay on brand

    TikTok users respect authenticity, so make sure your ad content is true to your company’s values and conforms with your branding.

    Be direct

    Yes, TikTok allows you 60 seconds to make your point, but videos of 21 to 34 seconds are best for boosting conversions.

    Keep it vertical

    Videos with vertical orientation outperform the square or horizontal format, with a 40% boost in impressions.

    Promote at the right time

    The success of eBay’s “Sneaker Showdown” campaign was due in part to its timing in alignment with the NCAA basketball tournament. Look for trending topics or events that can help you generate buzz for your ad campaign. And don’t forget that TikTok analytics will show you the best time to run your ads for maximum audience reach.

    Use sound and text

    According to TikTok, “audio of any kind” boosts ad impressions. Captions and text overlays also improve the impact of ads.

    Incorporate hashtags

    Help users find you by including relevant hashtags. You can see trending hashtags on the TikTok discovery page and choose the ones that make the most sense for your ad and your brand.

    Incorporate interactive add-ons

    TikTok’s interactive features encourage interaction with ads. For example, you can use the Gesture add-on to encourage users to swipe or tap on an ad to reveal a reward. Or use the Voting Sticker overlay to seek input from your audience.

    Partner with influencers

    TikTok influencers already have a following, so partnering with them on an ad campaign can greatly expand your reach. Search for influencers that are either already using your product or are among your target demographic. You might be able to launch a new campaign with an influencer to build buzz for your brand, or find an influencer with existing content that would work well for a Spark Ad.

    Test and optimize

    Review your TikTok analytics often to see how your content is performing. Look at metrics such as views, interactions and click-through rates, and adjust your content strategy if you’re not seeing the engagement you’d hoped for.

    Winning at TikTok advertising

    TikTok advertising may feel completely different from the other social platforms you’re advertising on. But once you understand how to run ads on TikTok, you could see impressive results for your business. Put directness and simplicity front and center so you can easily get your message across to the app’s wide-ranging and fast-moving audience.

    And if you’re still not convinced about whether to use the platform, check out some of the top reasons why brands should use TikTok.

    The post TikTok ads 101: How to get started with TikTok advertising appeared first on Sprout Social.

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