TikTok has blossomed into the seventh largest social media network in the world, which makes it very fertile advertising ground. Even better, their new self-serve marketing platform has made advertising on TikTok accessible to small businesses.
Advertising on TikTok will help you reach a young, energetic audience that loves to share great content. But with such a new marketing platform, it can be difficult to know how to do it effectively. We’re here to help.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to create a TikTok ad, how much they cost, and which companies should use them. Plus, you’ll get a list of best practices and be inspired by some of the best examples of TikTok advertising.
Who Should Advertise on TikTok?
The list of brands spending money on TikTok ads is growing, both in the numbers and in the breadth of the products they sell. But not every company is going to succeed here. Will you? Here are three TikTok truths to tell you who should invest in TikTok advertising.
Brands looking for a large, engaged audience
The TikTok app has been downloaded over 2 billion times, including 165 billion downloads in the United States alone. And it appears the TikTok trend is climbing fast.
That large audience isn’t idle either. The youngest users, kids 4 through 15, spend about 80 minutes per day on TikTok, nearly equaling the engagement time of YouTube for the same demographic. And, on average, TikTok users open the app eight times a day.
Brands selling to well-funded gens Z and Y
While the audience on TikTok is big, it doesn’t span every demographic—yet. For now, brands that target generation Z and younger millennials will find the largest pool of potential customers.
Most of TikTok’s audience is young: 63% of U.S. TikTok users are between 10 and 29 years old.
They are starting to grow up, though. Usage trends show an increase in 25- to 54-year-old TikTokers and a decrease in the youngest adults on the platform.
Plus, since 51.8% have an average income of $75K or more, TikTok users are generally doing pretty well for themselves.
Brand’s with an international audience
Unlike other social media networks, TikTok didn’t start in the United States, and it shows. India has the greatest number of TikTok users, and other nations like Russia, Mexico, and Pakistan all have tens of millions of people on the platform.
How to Advertise on TikTok
Depending on the type of ad you’d like to run, you’ll either need to speak to a TikTok ad manager or use their self-service platform. Here, we’ll break down the different ad types and show you how to create your own in-feed video ad.
Choose your ad option
TikTok offers several options for paid advertising.
In-feed video ads
In-feed ads are short-form videos that appear in users’ news feed on the For You page. They look similar to native TikToks, so they blend organically into the feed. Right now, they are the only ad option available to self-service advertising customers.
Branded hashtag challenge
In a branded hashtag challenge, a brand asks TikTok users to videotape themselves performing something, like a choreographed dance, and then post it with a specific hashtag.
These ads are placed at or near the top of the Discovery page, and a click on the hashtag leads visitors to a collection of TikToks from the same challenge.
Brand takeovers are full-screen, three- to five-second video ads that show up as soon as someone opens the app. The ad will also show up in the For You feed. You can include a clickable hashtag or website link as well.
Like brand takeovers, TopView ads display on the full screen. The difference is that these ads can be 60 seconds long, and they are on a delayed play, so they don’t start with app startup.
Branded effects are custom stickers, AR filters, and lenses users can add to their own video. They’re similar to Instagram’s AR Filters. Each new branded effect is available for 10 days.
We’ll walk you through the process of creating an in-feed video ad, since it’s the only one that can done completely through self-service.
Create your ad account
Before you launch your first ad, you’ll need an account.
1. Click Get Started from the TikTok for Business landing page, and then enter your region > business type > click Next.
2. Fill out your details > click Sign Up
That’s it. You’re all set up and ready to start advertising on TikTok
Create a campaign
In TikTok, you follow a hierarchy by first creating a campaign and then an ad group, and finally an ad. You can read about the TikTok ad structure here.
1. Go to the Campaign tab on the top of Ads Manager and click Create
2. Pick your objective. Depending on what your marketing goal is, you’ll choose awareness, consideration, or conversion.
That’s all you do to create a campaign. TikTok will automatically keep you moving to the ad group section.
Create an ad group
1. Choose your ad placement (auto placement is easiest for your first ad)
2. Choose promotion type, URL, display name, profile image and how you want users to engage with your ads.
3. Decide if you want to use TikTok’s automated creative optimization. This is one of the tools TikTok created for small businesses. It basically builds ads using your images, videos, and copy and then continually tests them for you.
4. Pick your audience targets. You can target audiences based on demographics and interests. You can also create a custom audience from your customer files, website traffic, app activity, or previous ad engagement.
To build a custom audience from website traffic, you’ll need to install the TikTok pixel on your website. The pixel also helps you optimize ads and tie the success of your ads to customer behaviors on your website.
5. Choose between a daily or lifetime budget—the total you’ll spend during the life of the ad set or campaign—as explained here.
7. Click Next and you’re ready to create a new ad.
Create an ad
1. Upload your ad creative. This can be either video or images. TikTok will turn still images into a video. And be sure to follow TikTok’s ad creative guideline.
2. Fill in your ad text and call to action.
3. Click Submit and your campaign is sent off for review.
TikTok will check each ad against their guidelines. Here’s a checklist to help make sure your ads are approved on the first review.
How Much do TikTok Ads Cost?
With the exception of their pay-per-click (PPC) in-feed ads, TikTok doesn’t officially publish their advertising pricing. However, Ad Age wrote about a leaked pitch deck in 2019.
Prices ranged from $50k to $150k for things like branded hashtag challenges and brand takeovers.
In-feed ads are more accessible. They’re biddable with a minimum spend of $50 per campaign and $20 per ad group. Digiday reports TikTok CPMs “as low as $1.” And this experiment resulted in a cost per click (CPC) of $0.19 and a cost per thousand (CPM) impressions of $1.82.
TikTok Advertising Best Practices
Creating an in-feed ad is easy on TikTok. Creating an ad that efficiently delivers new fans and customers is a little more challenging. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you launch your first TikTok ad campaign.
TikTok says right in their Business Center Help page that it wants you to be authentic. “Creative should be consistent with your brand image and resonate with your target audience. Serious brands should have serious ads, trendy brands should have trendy ads, you get the picture.”
TikTok Australia’s general manager of global business solutions Brett Armstrong doubled down on the notion of retaining your brand identity. “[The] best practice for brands would be to stay true to their story, telling it how they want it told while also thinking about TikTok’s unique format—ensuring content is authentic to the platform and the way people use it.”
The energy drink manufacturer is known for bringing high-octane sports to the world. Their TikToks stay true to that mission.
Use influencers wisely
Influencers are creators who will partner with you to share your message with their audience. Pick the right ones and you’ll see big returns on your TikTok ad spend.
For example, a Tomoson study showed that for every $1 spent on influencer marketing, a brand could see $6.50 in return.
When you’re searching for the right influencer, look for the following:
- Relevance. An influencer known for makeup tutorials might not be the best option to promote your energy drink.
- Influence. Both their follower count and their engagement metrics (likes, shares) matter.
- Location. Whether your brand is local or national, you want an influencer’s core audience to have access to your products.
You can find influencers in the Users tab of the discovery page. Just enter a topic in the search bar.
You’ll see their follower count right away. Click on their profile to find other engagement numbers such as how many people have liked their videos.
TikTok also offers a one-stop-shop for brand/influencer collaboration called Creator Marketplace. In it, you can search for the perfect influencer match using examples and data.
Use Smart Video Soundtrack
Smart Video Soundtrack is a free creative tool offered by TikTok. It automatically pairs appropriate music with your video.
Not only does music make your ad more fun for the viewer, but it will also make it more discoverable. That’s because TikToks show the track that’s playing in a scroll on the bottom of that screen.
Users can click the scrolling track and find other videos, like your ad, that are using the same music. It’s sort of an audible hashtag.
Smart Video Soundtrack takes the guesswork and the copyright worry out of adding music to your ads. Just upload your video to your ad, and Smart Video Soundtrack finds a track from its 900+ song library to match.
You can even test multiple tracks to see which performs best in your ads.
How to Analyze TikTok Ads Results
With a quick view, you’ll see how your ads are performing across several important KPIs. With a few extra clicks, you can dig deeper and prepare customized reports.
Get the big picture on your Dashboard
The Dashboard is where you’ll start when you open Ads Manager. It’s also where you can get a snapshot of your ad’s status and performance.
On the dashboard, you’ll find:
- Current state of ads and campaigns
- Overall CPM, CPC, CPA, CTR, Conversions, and more metrics
- Current ad spend
You can even export the results with a single click for further review.
Get finer detail on the Campaign page
On the Campaign page, you can see results all the way down to the single ad level.
Just choose from the campaign, Ad Group, or Ad tabs across the top. Then, click on View Data to see the performance data and audience analysis.
You can even create a data chart by:
1. Picking a date range.
2. Then, choosing some dimensions from the list.
Looking at the example above, you’ll be able to see how many people clicked through your ad between November 1 and November 10.
Examples of Effective TikTok Ads
What makes an ad successful on Facebook or Instagram doesn’t necessarily translate to TikTok. Luckily, there are plenty of examples from brands doing well in the video-sharing platform to get inspiration from.
Express yourself with Essie
Beauty brand Essie created a branded hashtag contest, for which followers were asked to show their manicuring creativity.
The ad even gathered 1.4 billion views.
Duet with Dunkin’
Dunkin’ Donuts collaborated with TikTok star Charli D’Amelio. Using TikTok’s Duet function, D’Amelio shared the screen, and an iced coffee, with Dunkin’.
It seemed to work out pretty well: 8.9 million TikTok users liked the video.
Movie magic for Dr. Dolittle
Another popular TikTok creator, Zach King, helped promote the film Dolittle with a little movie magic of his own. Ads like these work well because they take full advantage of TikTok’s focus on visuals.
The ad got lots of people talking. In fact, it pulled in over 25,000 comments.
Chipotle’s Guac Dance
The fast-service burrito restaurant challenged TikTok users to show their dance moves. The best part? The guacamole song that went along with the challenge.
The viral nature of challenges worked for Chipotle: the ad gathered 1.1 billion views.
Manscaped’s stylish product ad
Personal grooming brand Manscaped bucked the self-shot video trend with a superslick, professionally produced ad showing the finer points of their product.
Even though the ad looked like an ad, it still brought 151 million impressions.
Bumble makes TikToks, not ads
On the opposite end of the spectrum from Manscaped’s high-production-value ad, Bumble created an organic-looking, in-feed ad that maintained the user-generated aesthetic of organic TikToks. Their ads featured popular creators and the typical slapstick humor common to TikTok videos.
The ads worked, delivering a 5x increase in app install volume for Bumble.
Blend Organic Content with TikTok Advertising
Some unlikely brands are connecting in unexpected ways with TikTok’s young, creative audience. And they’re doing so by blending their paid ads with a steady stream of organic TicToks.
The Washington Post is a perfect example. Who would have thought a traditional news outlet would be posting funny, timely TikToks—often featuring a character simply named Dave—that generate millions of impressions and thousands of shares and comments?
The lesson for other brands is to join in the fun that made TikTok so popular. Fill your channel with the type of content TikTok users come to the app to see. That way, when your paid ad generates a ton of interest in your brand, that new audience will have a reason to stick around for a long time.