A Comprehensive Guide to TikTok Advertising

Sep 15, 2023

TikTok’s impressive growth is even more noteworthy when you consider it launched just four years ago in September 2016. Remember, it took Instagram six years to achieve the same gains TikTok has already seen. No wonder TikTok advertising has taken off!

The social media giant shows no signs of diminished growth moving forward. As of the first quarter of 2019, TikTok boasted more downloads than any other app on the Apple App Store, with a whopping 33 million downloads.

It outstripped competitors such as Facebook and Snapchat by a long shot. Are you impressed by these stats? If so, you likely want to know how to get in on a piece of the TikTok action.

Keep reading for a full breakdown of how to advertise on TikTok.

TikTok Advertising 101

TikTok advertising represents a hot social media marketing trend that appeals to a wide demographic. While most people associate the app with the under 30 crowd, the most recent user data shatters these assumptions.

About 41 percent of users fall within the 16- to 24-year-old age group. That means another 59 percent fit into the Millennial, GenX, and Baby Boomer categories. What’s more, within the past 18 months, the number of American adults using TikTok has grown 5.5 times.

Which advertisements are most popular on TikTok these days? They include eCommerce and lifestyle ads. Many clothing brands have also jumped on board with the popular app as well as beauty product lines.

After all, women outnumber men two to one among American users of the app. This fact is something that companies like CoverGirl are taking advantage of to sell products. For example, one recent CoverGirl campaign received more than 6.5 billion ad impressions on TikTok.

If these stats sound appealing to you, you’re not alone. How do you get in on the TikTok advertising momentum? Here’s what you need to know to get started.

How to Advertise on TikTok

Launching TikTok advertising requires the completion of a few steps before you can market your brand. You’ll need to set up an account or account manager before you can begin a campaign. Remember that only certain businesses qualify to release campaigns on TikTok.

We recommend contacting TikTok For Business directly to make sure your company qualifies for ad campaigns before getting started. Once you’ve applied for business status, you’ll get contacted by a TikTok representative who will review your company’s information.

If the representative determines your company meets their criteria, they’ll set you up with an advertising account. From there, you’ll have a choice of several different ad options.

What Are Your TikTok Ad Options?

There are a variety of ways to reach your target demographic on TikTok. They include:

  • Brand Takeover
  • In-Feed Videos
  • Hashtag Challenges
  • Custom Influencer Packages
  • Branded AR Content

You’ll need a TikTok ad account manager to access most of these features. There is one caveat to this, however, In-Feed Videos. If you have access to the self-service dashboard, you can start utilizing In-Feed Video ad campaigns immediately.

Let’s examine each of these marketing resources in greater detail. That way, you’ll know which route will prove most effective for your upcoming ad campaign.

Brand Takeover

Are you going for shock and awe when it comes to an upcoming ad campaign? Then, consider going the brand takeover route.

What’s so impressive about this strategy? When users open their TikTok app, your ad will completely take over their screen for a handful of seconds. Then, your ad will transform into an in-feed video.

It leaves quite an impression and has been proven to bring in impressive impression and click numbers as we’ll discuss later in this article.

Too Faced

In-Feed Videos

What are In-Feed Videos? These are ads that appear in the native news feed of TikTok on the For You page. They represent another excellent way to get the attention of app users.


Hashtag Challenges

Hashtag Challenges show up as ads on the Discovery page. These ads encourage users to participate in content creation challenges using a stipulated hashtag.

Some companies include shoppable components for retailers. Engaging with customers and getting them to participate in your brand’s ad campaigns represents an excellent way to build trust and loyalty.


Custom Influencer Packages

Influencer marketing has taken off in recent years. This reality proves no less true when it comes to TikTok.

@charliedamelio X Moncler

What’s the allure of this form of marketing? It permits users to receive word-of-mouth testimonials and images about your products from the influencers your prospects already follow and trust. It’s a highly effective way to ramp up sales and gain a loyal customer fanbase.

Want to learn more about influencer marketing? Check out this case study detailing virtual influencer Kenna’s work with Essence Cosmetics. While you’re at it, check out these influencer marketing epic fails so that your company can avoid them.

Branded AR Content

What’s the deal when it comes to Branded AR Content? This category denotes ads that appear as branded lenses. They may also include stickers or other 2D, 3D, or AR content.

What can users do with this branded content? They can utilize these lenses, stickers, and other content in their videos.


TikTok Advertising Insights

Now that you know more about how TikTok advertising works, you may have questions about best practices. We recommend seeking inspiration by scoping out what other brands have done.

Fortunately, TikTok makes this research process easy by including dozens of case studies in its inspiration section. Sure, you’ll find just 12 case studies here, but they also happen to be the most successful on the platform.

In other words, there are plenty of priceless lessons that you can learn from this section of the platform. These case studies include a monumentally successful Brand Takeover campaign by Too Faced, as mentioned before. A cruelty-free beauty company, they introduced their plump gloss via TikTok ads.

The campaign ultimately brought in 1.3 million clicks and 7.6 million impressions. With a click-through rate of 18.38 percent, Too Faced increased traffic to their website significantly.

What made the campaign so effective? Too Faced had a solid understanding of their customer base and appealed to them via a channel they favor. (Remember the 2:1 ratio of women to men?)

When you thoroughly understand your target audience, you can provide them with ad content that leads to conversions.

Discover Marketing Success With TikTok

Another excellent place to get ideas is by browsing TikTok’s Discover page. Here, you’ll find trending content that will allow you to better gauge your target demographic and their interests.

TikTok’s Discover Page

Besides getting inspired by nifty campaigns that are trending, you’ll also see current Hashtag Challenge campaigns. You can also use the Discoer page to research what your competition is up to. Start by searching for the top videos, sounds, users, and hashtags related to your company.

You can also use the Discover page to connect with the right TikTok influencers. After searching for relevant individuals, you can scroll through search results to see how many videos they’ve posted and what their current following looks like.

When you take the time to find verified influencers in your niche, you increase your custom influencer package’s chances of going viral. After you’ve searched influencers, don’t approach them immediately. Instead, take a look at the content they produce.

That way, you make sure they prove both excellent and relevant influencers for your brand. As you explore what influencers and companies are doing online, add hashtags to those you find most notable.

Your Following and For You pages will get more personalized with each use. In effect, you’ll continue to refine searches and discover the type of content you’d like to produce. As you continue to visit TikTok and look at your news feed, it’ll evolve into a goldfield of usable ideas.

Achieving Success on TikTok

Countless brands advertise on TikTok today. They include:

  • Apple Music
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Experian
  • TurboTax
  • Postmates
  • The Voice
  • Manscaped
  • Scanner PDF
  • Bumble
  • CashApp
  • Homeymore
  • Chipotle
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch
  • And more

The ad campaigns employed by these brands varied greatly. For example, Cinnamon Toast Crunch hired famed YouTube magician Zack King to introduce their cereal with an entertaining illusion.


I mustache you a question: Is your favorite part of Cinnamon Toast Crunch the cereal or the milk at the end?Get #CTCCinnamilk at MilkBarStore.com #ad

♬ original sound – Zach King –

Chipotle hired famed influencer @avani to demonstrate how easy it is to order burrito bowls through the company’s app. (It helped that @avani boasts more than 10.8 million followers.) Then, there was Homeymore that used an In-Feed Video spot to target dog lovers.


Well that @chipotle came quick?? #tiktoktimeout #ad

♬ Yummy – Justin Bieber

What do these successful ad campaigns all have in common? Marketers for these brands took their time, familiarizing themselves with trending content. They also got to know their target demographic inside and out so that their ads proved irresistible.

How to Advertise on TikTok

After you’ve gained access to your company’s TikTok Ads platform, it’s time to start exploring its features. Log into your company’s account to access the advertising dashboard.

Once you’ve reached the dashboard, finish your ad account setup by completing a few more steps. For some companies, your account rep will complete these last few steps on your brand’s behalf.

How do you create a new ad campaign? Start by clicking on the Campaign tab. TikTok provides three organizational units for the ads that you make. They include:

  • Campaigns
  • Ad groups
  • Ads

How should you use these categories to organize the ads that you create? The top-level organizational unit is known as the campaign.

Campaigns should each have one principal objective and budget. That said, you may have multiple ad groups and ads within each campaign.

Within ad groups, you’ll make decisions about target audiences, budget, your ad schedule, and ad placements. You’ll also have one or more ads in each group. These ads will contain video content designed to reach the target audience defined within that specific ad group.

Creating Your First TikTok Ad Campaign

How do you make a new in-feed video ad campaign? Click on the Create button to get started. From there, you’ll choose your ad campaign’s objective.

The choices you’ll have for objectives will depend on the country where you live. After you’ve chosen a marketing objective, give your campaign a name. Next, add a daily or lifetime budget.

What are the advantages of going with a lifetime budget? You’ll reach more people more quickly. That said, a daily budget will permit you to penetrate your target market while having extra control over your budget.

Designing a New Ad Group

After you’ve created a new campaign, it’s time to craft your first ad group. You’ll begin by choosing your ad group’s placement.

What’s the best way to do this? We recommend working with an experienced, professional TikTok advertising agency that understands the ins and outs of TikTok ad campaigns. They can help you get the most for your money.

However, if you don’t have this option, let TikTok choose ad placements automatically. This feature permits your advertisements to appear on TikTok partner apps, too. These partner apps include:

  • BuzzVideo (Japan)
  • Babe (Indonesia)
  • TopBuzz (US and BR)
  • News Republic (worldwide)
  • Helo (India)

After you’ve decided on ad placement, it’s time to configure our target audience. What are some of the ways that TikTok permits you to target audiences? You can do so using:

  • Interests
  • General demographics
  • Devices

But the custom audience targeting options don’t end there. Let’s dig a little deeper into your options.

Custom Audience Targeting Options

If you’re not satisfied with divvying up your audience based on interests, general demographics, or devices alone, you’ll need to customize your audience. You can do this in your ad group’s targeting.

There are several ways to create custom audiences through TikTok’s ad group targeting. They include using your customer’s:

  • Contact info
  • App activity
  • Ad engagement
  • Website traffic

Remember that you’ll need a minimum audience size of 1,000 users to meet TikTok’s website data audience restrictions.

Why You Need A TikTok Pixel

What if you want to use TikTok ads for retargeting? Then, you’ll need to install the TikTok Pixel before launching any of your ad campaigns. That way, you’ll give the platform enough time to match the traffic data it collects with TikTok users.

TikTok Pixel represents a handy tool for:

  • Optimizing ad delivery to the users most likely to act on your ad campaign objective
  • Measuring the effectiveness of your ad campaigns
  • Removing users that have already converted, so you don’t spend your budget on unnecessary clicks or impressions

As you can see, relying on these audience targeting resources will help you get your ads in front of the right eyes. There’s nothing like the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re allocating the right budgetary and marketing resources in the most strategic locations.

Once you’ve finished your custom targeting activities, it’s as simple as setting your schedule and your budget. You can also customize bidding and your ad budget spend.

Remember that the higher your bid, the more likely your target audience will see your ads over those of your competitors. So, always make sure your budget allocations are in keeping with your ultimate campaign goals.

Creating a New Ad

Okay, you’ve created a new ad campaign, and you’ve configured your ad group. What’s next?

It’s time to upload your first ad into your ad group. TikTok lets you upload either an image or a video to accompany your ad. If you prefer to use still images, TikTok will group them into a video.

You’ll need to follow TikTok’s specifications for images and videos when creating your ad content. Otherwise, you could end with a less-than-satisfactory final product.

For example, your videos need to meet the following specifications:

  • Include a description of your advertised product or service that’s between 12 and 100 characters (English) long
  • Meet the recommended aspect ratio of 9:16/1:1/16:9
  • Have a resolution of greater than 720px x 1280px, 640px by 640px, or 1280px by 720px
  • Include a brand name that’s between two and 20 characters (English) long or an app name that’s four to 40 characters long
  • Include a video that’s five to 60 seconds in length, although nine to 15 seconds in length is recommended

Once you’ve uploaded your video or images, you may wish to use TikTok’s creative tools to refine the final look further. Many advertisers rely on these tools to optimize their content for their target audience.

What’s included with these creative tools? Everything from a smart video soundtrack to a video creation kit, video template, and landing page to video capabilities. Explore the many innovative options available through TikTok Ad Studio now.

What happens after your campaign is ready to launch? You’ll need approval for your ad campaign through TikTok. This step proves similar to Facebook Ads, where your ad must get reviewed before anybody sees it.

How to Monitor Your Ad Campaign's Performance

Once your ad gets approved by TikTok, you’ll need to monitor its performance. You can do this via the ads dashboard. The dashboard provides a filter that you can use to craft campaign reports that drill down into the data you most wish to highlight.

Ads Dashboard

The dashboard also provides plenty of resources to ensure that your ads perform according to the specific metrics and dimensions you expect. These filters include factors such as device type, ad placement, audience demographics, and ad creative.

These resources will provide you with the data and insights that you need to design more effective ads. You can use this data to get to know your audience and then use this information to make ads that will appear and appeal to them in new ways.

What's the Cost of Advertising on TikTok?

Companies who want to reap the most benefits advertising on TikTok should invest some serious money. When you consider the incredible visibility companies like CoverGirl get with a single ad campaign, however, this investment proves well worth it.

In June 2019, a TikTok pitch deck leaked to the public. While we’ll spare you the details, here’s how the company’s advertising costs broke down:

  • $50,000 per day for Brand Takeover
  • $25,000 minimum per campaign with $30,000 daily maximum for In-Feed Video
  • $150,000 for a six-day Hashtag Challenge
  • $600 – $1,000 per post for Custom Influencer Packages (variable pricing based on the influencer and campaign)
  • $80,000 – $120,000 for Branded Lenses (prices based on the complexity of the lens design)

If these figures take your breath away, know that you can start much smaller. Nevertheless, they provide you with a good idea of how much some brands spend to bring in online revenues.

There are two ad spend minimums that you need to be aware of. At the campaign level, TikTok sets a minimum budget of $500. At the ad group level, this drops to $50.

Why these minimums? To ensure that companies advertising with TikTok reach their ad objectives.

Brands will gain access to the self-service TikTok ads platform and can set all-time budget caps or daily budget caps.

Where do small business owners with limited budgets fall into the advertising mix when it comes to TikTok? We recommend waiting to see whether these ad costs will drop over time. We’ve seen this trend occur with other social media channels as advertiser member numbers increase.

If you’re not ready to take the plunge with TikTok and its minimum ad spend numbers, consider working with Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, or Facebook. All of these channels provide services for entrepreneurs with even the smallest budgets.

The TikTok Takeaway

Like other social media channels, TikTok comes with marketing resources and creative tools that allow companies to put their best foot forward.

Considering how fast this global channel continues to expand, TikTok advertising is an excellent place to start appealing to your target demographic on a larger scale.

Once you navigate setting up your account and creating campaigns and ad groups, you’ll be well-positioned to make content. For superior results, consider working with an experienced ad agency that makes it a priority to know what’s trending and working on TikTok.

Ready to learn more about what a professional social media management company could do for your brand? Contact us to discuss your campaign objectives for TikTok and other social media channels.

Chris Kubbernus

As CEO of Kubbco, Chris leads the company's vision and uses his 20 years of advertising experience to drive results for our clients.

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