TikTok Advertising: A Comprehensive Guide to Boost Your Brand

In just a few years, TikTok has rapidly gained popularity and amassed over 1 billion active users worldwide by April 2022. In our previous article, we explored the reasons behind TikTok’s success and how brands can market themselves on the platform. However, in addition to organic marketing tactics, investing in paid advertising on TikTok can further enhance your brand’s impact on its massive audience. If you’re ready to take your social media advertising strategy to the next level, TikTok ads should be on your radar. This article provides a detailed overview of how to advertise on TikTok, including the types of ads you can use and how to set them up.

Which Brands Should Use TikTok Advertising?

A wide range of brands, including Chipotle, Guess, and Fenty Beauty, utilize TikTok advertising. These brands share a common trait—they have products that naturally fit into TikTok’s video format. Unlike other social channels, TikTok allows advertisers to showcase their products in action and deliver a lot of information within a short video clip. While this format can be challenging for B2B brands that offer abstract services, it is ideal for B2C brands looking to move away from static ads and engage their audience with captivating content.

Types of TikTok Ads

TikTok offers various types of ads that allow you to choose the most effective way to reach your target audience and convey your message. Here are the different types of ads available on the TikTok ads platform:

  • In-feed video: These ads appear within the native news feed of TikTok users on the “For You” page.
  • Brand takeover: This ad type allows you to dominate the conversation by taking over the entire screen for a few seconds before transitioning into an in-feed video ad.
  • Spark ads: Introduced in 2021, Spark ads enable brands to sponsor popular organic content that aligns with their products.
  • Image ads: Brands can place image ads in videos that appear in TikTok’s news feed apps: BuzzVideo, TopBuzz, and Babe.
  • Video ads: These are full-screen videos lasting 5 to 60 seconds that appear in a user’s “For You” feed.
  • Pangle ads: Pangle’s video platform integrates with TikTok, offering video, native, and banner ads. However, this feature is currently available in specific countries.
  • Carousel ads: These ads contain up to 10 images and appear in TikTok’s news feed apps.
  • Branded AR content: Ads can also appear as branded stickers, lenses, and other types of AR content that TikTok users can use in their own videos.
  • Hashtag challenge: This ad type appears in the “Discovery” section of the app and encourages user participation.
  • Sponsored influencer content: With this type of TikTok advertisement, you can deliver your message through sponsored content created by influential TikTok users.
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Example of a TikTok carousel ad.

How to Set Up Ads on TikTok

Now that you’re familiar with the different types of TikTok ads, let’s delve into the process of setting them up through your TikTok ad account.

Step 1: Create Your TikTok Ad Account

Begin by creating an account on the TikTok Ads Manager. Choose your billing country or region, and specify whether you’re using the account for a business or individual. Then, enter some basic information such as your email address and password. Verify your account by confirming the code sent to your email or phone number. Once your brand is approved, log in to your dashboard and complete the initial account setup instructions.

Step 2: Create and Install the TikTok Pixel

To gather valuable information about user behavior on your website, install the TikTok Pixel—a code snippet that tracks site events. Select either “Standard Mode” or “Developer Mode” and create your Pixel by setting up a “Web Event” in your TikTok Ads Manager. Ensure your cookie consent settings are accurate before deploying the Pixel. Finally, download or copy the Pixel code and paste it into your website’s header.

Step 3: Create a New Campaign

Under the “Campaigns” tab, click on the “Create” button to establish a new ad campaign. Choose your campaign objective—whether you want to drive traffic, conversions, or app installs. Then, assign a name to your campaign and set a minimum budget at the campaign level. You can opt for either a lifetime budget for maximum reach or a daily budget for gradual and steady audience engagement.

Step 4: Create an Ad Group

Create an ad group to define target audiences, campaign budgets, and ad placements. Select the promotional type or goal, such as “App Install” or “Website.” Choose the ad placement, either automatically or manually. If you’re new to TikTok ads, automatic placement ensures maximum reach and value. Optionally, turn on the “Automated Creative Optimization” feature to allow TikTok to create variations of your content and test their engagement. Specify the target audience based on their location, gender, age group, language, interests, and prior interactions with your content. Finally, choose between standard or accelerated delivery types.

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Step 5: Create an Ad

After setting up your ad group, it’s time to configure your first ad. TikTok allows you to upload either a video or an image file as your ad creative. Ensure to follow the recommended ad specifications for optimal results across TikTok and its partner platforms. Customize your ad by adding a clear and compelling ad text, selecting an appropriate call-to-action, and naming your ad for easy identification within the same ad group. Once you’re satisfied with your ad, preview it to ensure it appears as intended and make any necessary adjustments before submission.

Use TikTok Promote to Boost Existing Ads

TikTok Promote is a paid feature that enables you to choose a specific goal—video views, website visits, or new followers—and promote your video content accordingly. Select your target audience, define your budget, schedule your ad duration, and start the promotion.

Step 6: Measure Ad Performance

Launching your ad is just the beginning; it’s essential to track and measure your ad’s performance. TikTok provides native analytics that offer insights into impressions, clicks, conversions, and more. Regularly review these metrics to assess the effectiveness of your ad creative, and make data-driven optimizations to achieve optimal results.

TikTok Ad Specs

If you plan to create in-feed video ads on TikTok, ensure they adhere to the platform’s formatting guidelines for optimal display and user engagement. Start by creating a video with a duration within TikTok’s recommended range (9 to 15 seconds). The video file size should be under 500MB, and the accepted file formats include .mp4, .mov, .mpeg, .3gp, and .avi. To ensure compliance with TikTok’s ad specifications, consult their comprehensive list of formatting guidelines.

How Much Do TikTok Ads Cost?

TikTok’s pricing algorithm, based on a bidding model, is closely guarded by the platform. However, keep in mind that campaign-level budgets must be a minimum of $50 per day, while ad group level budgets should be at least $20 per day.

7 Inspiring Examples of TikTok Advertising

While understanding the basics is crucial, studying successful TikTok advertising campaigns can provide valuable inspiration for your own strategy. Let’s dive into four brands that executed brilliant advertising campaigns on TikTok:

1. Chipotle

Chipotle has harnessed TikTok’s potential with fun and creative video content. Their influencer advertising campaign for the annual “Boorito” offer during Halloween was a huge success. By collaborating with influencers known for their creativity, such as Brittany Broski and Zach King, Chipotle engaged their audience effectively.

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2. Kroger

Kroger was among the first brands to leverage TikTok’s “Hashtag Challenge Plus” feature. They enabled TikTok users to shop directly within the app for Kroger products by tagging them with the campaign hashtag. This integration not only encouraged user participation and increased brand visibility but also provided a seamless shopping experience.

3. Experian

Experian ran a straightforward and easily understandable in-feed TikTok ad. Through a simple text conversation, the ad highlighted the benefits of Experian Boost for credit scores. It also featured a “Download” button, emphasizing directness and simplicity.


IHOP used TikTok ads to target millennials and generate excitement about their limited-time offers. Rebranding as the “International Haunted House of Pancakes” for their Halloween 2021 campaign, they promoted “Scary Face” pancakes and other spooky menu items. The campaign achieved significant reach and engagement, with a lower-than-average CPM compared to TikTok’s national average.

These example campaigns demonstrate the vast possibilities TikTok advertising offers for brands to connect with their audience and achieve outstanding results.

TikTok Advertising Best Practices

To maximize the effectiveness of your TikTok ad campaigns, follow these best practices:

Stay on Brand

Authenticity is highly valued on TikTok. Ensure that your ad content stays true to your company’s values and aligns with your branding.

Be Direct

While TikTok allows for videos up to 60 seconds, shorter videos ranging from 21 to 34 seconds tend to perform best for boosting conversions.

Keep it Vertical

Vertical orientation videos outperform square or horizontal formats, resulting in a 40% increase in impressions.

Promote at the Right Time

Take advantage of trending topics or events to generate buzz for your ad campaign. Additionally, TikTok analytics will help you identify the best time to run your ads for maximum audience reach.

Use Sound and Text

Leverage the power of audio by incorporating it into your ads. Captions and text overlays further enhance the impact of your ads, making them more accessible and engaging.

Incorporate Hashtags

Include relevant hashtags in your ads to help users find your content. Explore TikTok’s discovery page for trending hashtags that align with your ad and brand.

Incorporate Interactive Add-ons

Utilize TikTok’s interactive features to encourage user engagement with your ads. Features such as Gesture add-ons, which prompt users to swipe or tap to reveal a reward, or Voting Sticker overlays, which seek input from your audience, can enhance interaction with your content.

Partner with Influencers

Collaborating with TikTok influencers amplifies your reach by leveraging their existing following. Identify influencers who align with your brand or target demographic to launch a new campaign or repurpose their existing content for a Spark Ad.

Test and Optimize

Regularly review TikTok analytics to monitor your ad’s performance. Analyze metrics such as views, interactions, and click-through rates, and fine-tune your content strategy based on audience engagement.

Mastering TikTok Advertising

TikTok advertising may seem unfamiliar compared to other social platforms. However, once you grasp the fundamentals of running ads on TikTok, you can unlock impressive results for your business. By highlighting directness and simplicity, you can effectively convey your message to TikTok’s diverse and fast-moving audience. Still undecided about TikTok’s potential? Check out the top reasons why brands should embrace the platform.

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