Everything You Need to Know About TikTok Ads

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this year, chances are you’ve heard about TikTok. (And no, we aren’t talking about Ke$ha’s iconic pop song from the early 2000s.)

The TikTok we are referring to is a social media platform used to make a variety of short-form videos with built-in filters, effects, and music that span across multiple genres. 

Today, TikTok is available in over 150 countries, has over 1 billion users, and has been downloaded over 175 million times in the United States alone. TikTok has quickly become one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in the world, and as marketers, it is crucial to use this to our advantage.

Here’s everything you need to know about leveraging TikTok ads for your brand.

What is TikTok, and why is it so popular?

TikTok is the leading destination for short-form mobile video, and it stands out from its competition by being more of an entertainment platform that thrives on creativity than a typical social media platform. At its core, TikTok is all about enabling anyone to be a content creator, which shows with its easy-to-use layout and in-app video editor. 

TikTok’s home page consists of two simple feeds: Following and For You. Whichever you choose, you’ll be met with an unlimited amount of curated content ranging from fitness, fashion/beauty, recipes, and life hacks. All you have to do is scroll, which makes the app very addictive and easy to stay on for hours at a time. In fact, research shows that U.S. TikTok users spend nearly 500 minutes per month on the app. 

Related: The Latest Secret Weapon in Marketing: TikTok

Is TikTok right for your business?

With more than 500 million active users worldwide, TikTok presents an enormous opportunity to advertisers — but are those users the right people for your brand to target?

TikTok has a reputation for being popular with teens; however, where TikTok really thrives is with the younger generation as a whole. Approximately 41% of all TikTok users are between 16 and 24 years old, and 66% are younger than 30. If you’re looking to reach younger, content-hungry consumers, then advertising on TikTok could be a worthwhile investment for your brand. 

Another factor to consider is if you have the budget to advertise on TikTok. These ads start at an average of $10 per CPM and can go up to $300,000 total for larger campaigns. Therefore, TikTok ads might not be a viable choice if you’re looking for more affordable advertising options.

Types of TikTok Ads


As the name suggests, these ads appear in between videos as users scroll through their feed. At first glance, In-Feed ads seem like organic user-generated content. Similar to organic content, users can like, comment, and interact with these videos, making them a suitable option if you’re looking to increase engagement. It is also important to note that because of the organic nature of these ads, you only have a few seconds to catch a user’s eye before they keep scrolling.

Brand Takeover

If you want to make sure your ad is seen, then consider purchasing a Brand Takeover. These videos appear as soon as someone opens the app and completely take over the user’s screen, making them more direct than In-Feed ads. A Brand Takeover is also exclusive to a specific category, which means only one brand can appear in that slot per day. Although the exclusivity of these ads makes them effective, it also means they come at a higher cost.


TopView ads are very similar to Brand Takeover ads — the only difference is that they appear three to five seconds after a user opens the app, rather than appearing instantly. These videos show up at the top of a user’s For You page, which is prime real estate in the land of TikTok. A TopView ad is also TikTok’s longest ad format and can last up to 60 seconds. 

Hashtag Challenge

These ads are sponsored hashtags that appear on the Discover page, which is where trending hashtags are found. TikTok is known for its viral trends, so the purpose of a Hashtag Challenge is to encourage users to participate in your brand’s trend or challenge. When a user clicks on the hashtag, they are redirected to a landing page that includes the brand’s logo, website link, a description of the challenge, and the most popular videos using the hashtag. 

Branded Effects

Similar to Instagram or Snapchat’s AR filters, branded effects on TikTok are custom stickers, AR filters, and lenses that creators can use to make their own content. These ads help increase engagement, as the sole purpose is to get creators to use your branded effect. Branded effects also help add personality to your brand, and are a great way to encourage users to interact with your brand in a fun way. 

How to Advertise on TikTok

Now that you’re familiar with TikTok’s advertising options, it’s time to walk you through the process of creating a TikTok ad.

1. Create a TikTok Ads account

The first step to advertising on TikTok is to create an account for your brand on TikTok’s Ads Manager. Simple enough, right?

2. Set your objective and budget

Once you’ve created an account, it’s time to create your ad campaign. Similar to advertising campaigns on other platforms, the first thing you’ll need to do is choose your advertising objective. For example, are you wanting to increase traffic, conversions, or app downloads? After this, the next step is setting your budget — you can choose either a daily budget or a total budget for your campaign. 

3. Create a TikTok Ad group 

You’ve set your objective and budget, now it’s time to dive into the details by determining factors such as the placement, targeting, and scheduling for your campaign.

  • Ad Placement: This is where you choose where your ads are seen — you can either set up an Automatic Placement or do this manually.
  • Targeting: Determine who will see your ad by setting parameters such as the audience, gender, location, age, language, and interests that you’re wanting to target.
  • Scheduling: Set up a schedule for your ad, which includes how long you want the ad to run, as well as how much you want to spend per day.

4. Select an optimization goal 

What is the overall purpose of your campaign? Choose from three options: Conversions, Clicks, or Impressions.

  • Conversions: Your ads will be shown to the people who are most likely to take your desired action. 
  • Clicks: The algorithm will optimize your ad to get as many clicks as possible.
  • Impressions: Your ad will be optimized to get as many impressions as possible.

5. Create your ad

You’ve done the heavy lifting and now it’s time for the fun part — actually creating your ad. (We’ll touch on best practices for creating TikTok ads next.) After you have created and uploaded the video, you can write your text copy and call-to-action button. After this, simply click “Submit” and you’re done! 

Best Practices for TikTok Ads

Unleash your brand’s creative side 

On a platform whose mission is to inspire creativity, it’s no surprise this is an important factor for creating TikTok ads. When it comes to advertising on TikTok, don’t try to make ads — instead, focus on making TikToks. It is important to unleash your brand’s creative side and have a good grasp on the content that’s popular to make your TikTok ads fit in, while also standing out. 

Be relevant and authentic

TikTok may not be the place to create elegant, overproduced advertisements. As a brand on TikTok, it is important to appeal to your audience the same way that TikTok creators are — through humor, visual effects, music, and storytelling. Although bid pricing is an important factor when it comes to how TikTok ranks ads, relevant ads are also given priority because they get more engagement and make TikTok more money as a result.

Embrace trends

At its core, TikTok is known for its trends — and things trend on TikTok for a reason. Therefore, following these trends helps your brand seem relevant and authentic, rather than feeling like an advertisement. Take advantage of what is currently trending on TikTok by including popular songs, sounds, and challenges that users are already participating in and searching for. 

Utilize influencers 

TikTok influencers are extremely popular amongst the community and can partner with you to help share your message. Showing a familiar face in your TikTok ad may earn the attention, as well as the trust of your viewers.

Related: Influencer Marketing vs. Digital Marketing

Are you ready to take advantage of one of the fastest-growing social media platforms and leverage TikTok ads for your brand? 

If social media is where you’re looking to take your brand or business’ marketing efforts, our Social Media Handbook is designed to teach you how easy and effective generating leads on social media can be.