The Marketer's Guide on How to Advertise on TikTok

Sep 15, 2023

Should you bother learning how to advertise on TikTok?

Ask five marketers and you’ll get five wildly different answers ranging from annoyance and disdain to glee and excitement.

Well, here are a few facts you can’t ignore.

As of April 2020, the TikTok app had been downloaded over 2 billion times globally.


TikTok enjoys nearly 800 million monthly active users. 100 million of those live in the U.S. alone.

In fact, the first quarter of 2020 delivered the often-mocked social media app the best quarter for any app ever.

Plenty of people credit TikTok for getting them through the toughest parts of quarantine with light-hearted content and viral sensations.

Who could forget Nathan Apodaca: the TikTok Ocean Spray skateboarding guy lip-synching Fleetwood Mac?

He’s quite the TikTok celeb now after joining the app a few years ago at the behest of his teenage daughter. Nathan’s even got merch and a management team to keep up.


This tells us that TikTok isn’t just for teenagers – it’s for fun.

You might be surprised to learn that despite the ruthless mocking, 28% of millennials report using TikTok daily compared to just 18% for all age groups.

TikTok via Buzzfeed

(Ouch! Can’t say they’re wrong though.)

Keep in mind, the oldest millennials are 40 now and the youngest in their late 20s.

Don’t want your brand to be disconnected from the younger audience? Learning how to advertise on TikTok is key.

You can’t avoid the cringe entirely – that’s half of TikTok’s appeal. Maybe TikTok teaches us that cringe is in the eye of the beholder after all. (Okay, that’s pretty cringe too.)

But you can do your best on TikTok learning about your audience and creating content they’ll enjoy (or at least not hate).

Should You Advertise on TikTok?

Here’s a valid question. Should you go through the trouble of learning how to advertise on TikTok? Is it even worth it for your brand?

Studying the landscape, creating content, and investing in an ad budget itself all take time and money. If your audience won’t see your content, what’s the point?

Find out if your audience is on TikTok already.

Your average TikToker is young and pretty well-off. As of 2019, a whopping 37% of TikTok users made over US$101k a year.

Marketing Charts

Now, it’s safe to assume that as more people flocked to TikTok in 2020, that dragged the average income down a bit.

But take a scroll and you’ll still see plenty of folks TikToking from large kitchens or bathrooms and nice restaurants. Others slather their face with high-end makeup like it’s water or sport chic clothing brands for choreographed dance videos.

What’s the bottom line though?

I’d say, if you want to reach anyone 40 and under, TikTok is worth it. If you run a consumer-facing brand, even better.

The app shows no signs of slowing down. You might as well learn how to advertise on TikTok now. Get your foot in the door so you’re prepared for the long run.

Types of TikTok Ads and Examples

TikTok offers a handful of ad types. Each one displays differently so you can reach your audience with the right type of content for your message.

Keep these types of TikTok ads in mind as you think of your campaign goals:

  • In-feed Video Ads
  • Brand Takeover
  • Hashtag Challenge
  • TopView
  • Branded Effects
  • Creator Marketplace

Another thing. The large-scale campaigns mentioned here will involve TikTok’s own marketing team, at least to some degree. You’ll want someone on your side who understands TikTok running your half of the marketing campaigns.

In-Feed Video Ads

The in-feed video ads look like any other TikTok posts (but with an ad disclaimer). These ads appear as users scroll the For You feed.

Runtime on these is between nine and 15 seconds. You can start with a video from your device or use TikTok’s creative studio for video templates and smart soundtracks:


Your in-feed video ads include 100 characters of copy and a CTA button. TikTok offers about two dozen CTA buttons to fit your ad’s goal like download, buy, RSVP, etc.

Just like you would on Facebook or any other social media platform, TikTok lets you choose your targeted audience for in-feed videos.

PepsiCo Australia used in-feed ads to drive a 17% click rate across over 10.4 million impressions.


Brand Takeover

It’s all in the name. Brand Takeover ads appear when users open the app and “take over” the whole screen.

To drive home brand recognition, Brand Takeover ads can also appear as GIFs and images around the app.

Too Faced took advantage of TikTok’s Brand Takeover to promote their Lip Injection Extreme gloss:


TikTok says this ad drove a whopping 18.38% click-through rate in the UK.

Hashtag Challenge

The Hashtag Challenge is especially useful for non-profits. Now, that’s not to say consumer brands can’t get in on the action too.

The premise is simple: TikTok helps you promote a branded hashtag campaign that includes a built-in CTA.

Chupa Chups launched a cool Hashtag Challenge around Halloween. TikTokers picked one of the Chupa Chups stickers as inspiration for a costume and shared their TikTok with the hashtag #Chupalloween.


Pretty cool. Unlike other types of ads, the Hashtag Challenge is interactive and fun.

And results? It delivered a nearly 13% engagement rate.


TopView ads are still fairly new. If you like the idea of Brand Takeover but don’t want to bombard users as soon as they open the app, TopView ads are your next best bet.

These ads display first in the feed but they don’t demand full-screen attention. If you hadn’t noticed yet, most TikTok ads work best when combined with other campaigns – specifically, influencers.

That’s the approach Doritos took with their TopView ad campaign. The ads were also part of a broader Truth or Dare game campaign.


The effort paid off too. This Doritos campaign earned a 22% engagement rate and 20% click rate.

“Doritos’ authentic campaign delivered a 22% engagement rate and 20% click rate.”

Branded Effects

Now, these are really awesome.

Brands launch official stickers, AR filters, lenses, and other effects via the TikTok platform. These branded effects run in ten-day campaigns.

And like other campaigns, these let you engage your audience without just asking them to buy something.

Garnier took advantage of the branded effects by combining it with a related hashtag challenge. Users shared before-and-after videos using the Garnier filter and hashtag:


The campaign reportedly delivered nearly 28% ad recall. Not too shabby.

Creator Marketplace (Custom Influencer Packages)

Here’s where TikTok really puts other social media platforms to shame.

Instead of digging for influencers yourself, TikTok functions like a marketplace. They’ll find influencers in your niche and work out the details. You browse and filter creators in your niche by topics, engagement level, and other present filters.

“The TikTok Creator Marketplace puts other social media platforms to shame.”

You can spend less time researching and more time creating.

Wordans used TikTok’s Creator Marketplace to launch a successful campaign:


The possibilities here are really endless.

How to Advertise on TikTok

For marketers already familiar with Facebook, learning how to advertise on TikTok is a breeze.

The tools and features are slightly different, but the basic process is the same:

  • Set up your TikTok ad account and wait for approval.
  • Create your first campaign.
  • Choose your audience targeting.
  • Set your budget and schedule.
  • Design the ad’s content and music.
  • Optimise your copy and CTA.
  • Launch the ad.
  • Track the results and improve.

Set Up Your TikTok Ad Account

First, you’ll have to go through the motions of setting up an ad account with TikTok’s ad centre.

You’ll supply your brand’s name, website, billing address, payment details, and basic info.

From there, TikTok will manually review your info and either approve or deny your account’s ability to run paid ads.

Create Your First Campaign

Now it’s time to set up your campaign. Like other platforms, TikTok lets you either start fresh or use details from an existing campaign.

You’ll also pick the objective for your ad right away. Your choices are:

  • Audience reach
  • Boosting traffic to your site
  • Promoting app installs
  • Increasing video views
  • Driving sales conversions

Since this is a self-service TikTok ad account, we can only run in-feed ads here.

Choose Your Placement and Targeting

Next, we’ll run through our placement and targeting details.

Right off rip, you’ll notice TikTok asks if you want to use their pixel feature. Like Facebook Pixel, TikTok’s pixel delivers better tracking metrics to keep tabs on your campaign performance and views.

TikTok lets us choose between automatic placements across its apps or manual placement.

You can also choose whether users can comment on your ad and download it to their device.

With manual placement, we choose the apps ourselves. Make sure you’re only running ads on apps with active audiences in your target market.

TikTok also has a cool feature called Automated Creative Optimization.

You just upload your creative basics like video, images, and CTA copy. TikTok will handle the rest for you.


Pretty neat.

Time to narrow down your target audience. You can upload audience profile data or start building an audience from scratch.

Just pick your audience’s location, age, interests, gender, and other details:

Like Facebook, TikTok gives you a needle reading to make sure your target audience is niche enough:

Set Your Budget and Schedule

Time to talk money.

Let TikTok know how much you want to spend per day and for how long.

You can choose to keep your ad ongoing or end it on a specific day.

Notice that TikTok also lets you choose a time of day to run your ad. If your audience lives in one region or time zone, this option might be smart.

Design Your Ad Content

Now for the fun part – designing your TikTok ad!

First, pick your format. Your choices are single image or single video.

If you click +Create, you can use TikTok’s creator studio. The studio includes video templates and smart soundtrack features:

This is a great choice if you’re new to TikTok and aren’t sure what kind of content works.

Optimise Your Copy and CTA

Use the real-time preview and fields to add your copy.

Keep it short and actionable! TikTok is a visual platform.

Note the character limit is just 100. You really don’t need more.

You can also pick from a couple dozen of pre-made CTA buttons, so find one that matches your content.

Launch and Wait

Once you’ve optimised the finishing touches, hit submit and TikTok will send your ad out into the world after an approval.

Congrats! You’ve learned how to advertise on TikTok. Now just sit back and wait for the results to pour in.

Just don’t forget to update your tracking details. TikTok lets you use their pixel system or your own:

Track Your Performance

Think you’re done? Oh, you’re just getting started.

After your ad campaign has run its course, see how it performed. Don’t beat yourself up if the metrics aren’t ideal.

It takes time to work out the right type of TikTok ads and content for your audience here. This logic goes for any social media platform really.

Here’s some good news though. TikTok also lets you set up A/B testing so you can split test groups:

How Much Does It Cost to Advertise on TikTok?

The question on everyone’s mind: How much does it cost to advertise on TikTok? What can you expect to spend on a given day or week?

We have some insight though thanks to a leaked pitch deck AdAge snagged in 2019. Here’s where pricing for various types of TikTok ads seems to stand:

  • Self-service in-feed video: $20 per ad group level; $50 per campaign level
  • In-feed video: $25k minimum per campaign; $30k maximum daily spend
  • Brand Takeover: $50k each day
  • Hashtag Challenge: $150k for six days
  • Branded effects: $80k to $120k depending on the graphic design
  • Custom Influencer Packages: Estimated $600 to $1k per post

(All prices reflect USD.)

Sorry, we have no definitive answer for you. In fact, TikTok is pretty tight-lipped about their pricing structure.

Self-service PPC in-feed campaigns and ad groups are really the only accessible choices for small- or medium-sized brands. According to TikTok, those start with minimum spends of $50 for campaign level and $20 for ad group level.


So, all hope is not lost for the little guys!

How to Advertise on TikTok: Best Practices and Tips

Figuring out how to advertise on TikTok and deliver results is a little different than other platforms.

You can’t just hand off content creation to your marketing team and hope for the best. You need someone tapped into your audience’s culture on TikTok. Otherwise, they’ll smell your insincerity from a mile away.

To create the best TikTok ads for your brand, make sure to:

  • Carefully review TikTok’s inspiration case studies.
  • Keep your content authentic and fun. Make fun of yourself a bit even.
  • Follow accounts in your niche and watch the Discover page to see what’s hot.
  • Find, follow, and connect with the right influencers for your niche.
  • Drive home value with your CTA.

TikTok knows most of their ad campaigns are a hefty investment. That’s why they offer tons of case studies for inspiration.


You can browse case studies by industry, region, or campaign type to find something that fits your goals.

Brands seem to see the most success when they combine campaigns.

For example, you’d want to launch a hashtag challenge and include an influencer in your niche to drive engagement.

Keep It Authentic and Fun

TikTok is about fun. Notice anything interesting about most of the campaigns they offer?

The Hashtag Challenge and Branded Effects focus on the creator – not the brand. And they especially don’t focus on the brand selling stuff.

It’s all about the creator and getting creators involved.

Keep this in mind as you run in-feed videos too. With the rest of TikTok so authentic and fun, a stuffy salesy ad looks totally out of place.

Clothing brand Stradivarius (not to be confused with Stradivarius instruments) probably spent several thousand dollars on this TopView and in-feed campaign. Yet it looks totally natural and authentic:

Browse the For You Page

The For You feed gives insight into hot topics, trends, and creators.

First, make sure you follow other TikTokers in your niche and your target audience’s demographic. Take notes on what’s happening.

Next, try to keep your in-feed ad campaigns short. About a week or so should be good.

A short in-feed video campaign lets you jump onto trends before they fizzle.

Connect with the Right Influencers

The Creator Marketplace is where TikTok truly beats every other platform by a mile.

Use the Creator Marketplace to browse popular TikTokers in your industry and target audience. You can filter by engagement level, followers, and more. All the stats are laid out for you to see.

Pay special attention to their audience. TikTok makes sure you choose creators with audiences that mirror your own.

The Creator Marketplace also functions as a collaboration platform. Negotiating and networking are all covered. Say goodbye to third-party app searches and vetting influencers.

Moss Ball Pets used TikTok’s Creator Marketplace to reach new customers in the United States:

Give Users a Valuable Reason to Leave TikTok in Your CTA

Some brands complain about the click-through rate of TikTok ads. I’m willing to bet they’re just not creating the right type of content for the audience.

You only have two or three seconds to grab a viewer’s attention. Your in-feed video ad must be super engaging. Likewise, the copy must be concise and get straight to the point.

When it comes to your CTA, people need a valuable reason to click it – then and there.

“People need a good reason to leave the TikTok app. Give it to them.”

In other words, you must show viewers why they need to click and why they need to do it now.

Momentary Ink uses amateur videos of people using their product. You feel like you need to try it right away:


Learn How to Advertise on TikTok Now While Competition is Light

You might as well learn how to advertise on TikTok now while you don’t face a ton of competition.

Yes, Instagram recently took the TikTok concept for Reels. Yes, the same situation ultimately led to the slow breakdown of Snapchat via Stories.

But TikTok isn’t Snapchat. TikTok already reaches a global audience. Plus, it’s got the support of ByteDance: A well-structured and well-managed global enterprise.

TikTok is watching events unfold at other social media platforms carefully. They’re prepared for long-haul success. Why shouldn’t your brand be too?

Arianna Gismondi
Creative Strategist

I've got experience with brands, both in agency and in-house. I specialize in researching brands, audiences, industries, cultural trends, competitors' positioning, and finding insights.

These might interest you...

Read next

No items found.