If you still think TikTok is just for kids, you’re missing out on an important social media advertising option for your brand.
TikTok surpassed 1 billion users in September, and TikTok ads can now reach an estimated adult (18+) audience of 825 million people worldwide.
If you’re marketing to younger adults, especially women, advertising on TikTok is a natural fit. Almost half (43%) of TikTok users are aged 18 to 24. Women in that age category make up nearly a quarter (24.7%) of TikTok’s advertising audience.
TikTok’s largest audience is in the United States at 120,768,500 people. But what’s more interesting is the percentage of the adult population TikTok ads can reach in countries outside of North America, especially the Middle East and Asia.
If you’re marketing to an international audience, ads on TikTok offer excellent reach.
So, who should invest in advertising on TikTok? While brands with a wide range of audiences may find it worthwhile to test a small TikTok campaign, TikTok ads will likely have the best results for:
Here are all the kinds of ads you can run on TikTok’s ad platform and its family of apps. Not all ad types are available in all areas. Check out the TikTok ad specs for all formats further on in this post.
These are self-service ads you can create yourself through the TikTok Ad Manager interface.
Running only in TikTok’s News Feed apps (BuzzVideo, TopBuzz, and Babe), these include an image, brand or app name, and ad text.
Video ads are available for TikTok itself or for the TikTok family of news apps. They run as 5-60 second full-screen videos in the user’s For You feed. Each ad includes a video, an ad display image, brand or app name, and ad text.
Spark ads allow your brand to boost organic content from your own account or from other users. TikTok research shows Spark Ads have a 24% higher completion rate and 142% higher engagement rate than standard In-Feed ads.
Ads placed through the TikTok Audience Network.
Running only in TikTok’s News Feed apps, these include up to 10 images with unique captains per ad.
Managed brands are those that work with a TikTok sales representative. (Need a TikTok sales rep? Contact them to see if your business is a fit.) They have access to additional ad formats, including:
Video ads that appear as a full-screen takeover for 5 to 60 seconds when users open the TikTok app.
A three- to six-day ad campaign format to encourage engagement, in which user-generated content appears on the hashtag challenge page.
Branded stickers, filters, and special effects to get TikTokers interacting with your brand.
Note: If you’re just looking to boost existing content, you don’t need an Ads Manager account. Instead, you can use TikTok Promote. Skip to the end of this section for more details.
To get started, log into TikTok Ads Manager and click the Campaign button. TikTok has seven ad objectives broken down into three categories:
Give your campaign a name that is easily recognizable to your team. It can be up to 512 characters.
If you have bottomless pockets or prefer to set the budget limits for specific ad groups rather than the whole campaign, you can choose to set No Limit on your campaign budget. Otherwise, choose whether you want to set a Daily or Lifetime budget for your campaign (more on that below).
Campaign budget optimization is also available for the App Installs and Conversions objectives using the Lowest Cost bidding strategy.
For optimized Cost Per Click objectives, TikTok is beta testing a feature to provide a suggested bid.
Each campaign includes from one to 999 ad groups. Each ad group name can be up to 512 characters.
You can choose different placements for each ad group. Not all placements are available in all locations:
You won’t upload your creative until you get to the stage of creating individual ads. But for now, you can decide whether to let TikTok automatically generate combinations of your images, videos, and ad text. The ad system will then only show the best-performing ones.
TikTok recommends that new advertisers turn this setting on.
Like most social ads, TikTok allows you to show your ads specifically to your target market. You can use a lookalike or custom audience, or target your ads based on:
You’ve already set a budget for your overall campaign. Now it’s time to set the budget for the ad group, and to set the schedule on which it will run.
Choose a daily or lifetime budget for your ad group, then choose the start and end times. Under Dayparting, you can also choose to run your ad at specific times throughout the day (based on your account time zone).
First, choose your optimization goal: conversion, clicks, or reach. Your campaign objective may automatically determine this goal.
Next, choose your bidding strategy.
Finally, choose your delivery type: standard or accelerated. Standard divides your budget evenly over the scheduled dates of the campaign, whereas accelerated delivery spends your budget as fast as possible.
Each ad group can have up to 20 ads. Each ad name can be up to 512 characters, and is for internal use only (it does not appear on the ad itself).
First, choose your ad format: image, video, or Spark ad. If you’re sticking to TikTok itself (rather than the family of TikTok apps), you can only use video or Spark ads.
Add your photos or video, or create a video within Ads Manager using the video template or video creation tools. Note that TikTok research shows using the TikTok video editor can decrease cost per action by up to 46%.
Choose one of the default thumbnails, or upload your own. Then, enter your text and link. Check out the preview of your ad on the right of the screen, add any relevant tracking links, and click Submit.
Your ad will go through a review process before going live.
Note: To use Spark Ads, you’ll need to contact the creators of the content you want to use so they can provide an access code. Get the full Spark Ad instructions from TikTok.
If you’d prefer to work with a TikTok creator on a custom campaign, check out the TikTok Creator Marketplace.
TikTok Promote allows anyone aged 18 or over to promote existing content. It’s the TikTok equivalent of Facebook Boost.
Here’s how to boost a TikTok:
In this section, we’ll focus on ads that run on TikTok itself, rather than the family of TikTok news apps.
Note: Character counts are based on Latin characters. For Asian characters, generally the allowed character count is half.
TikTok ads are based on a bidding model. You can control costs through daily and lifetime budgets for campaigns and ad groups. The minimum budgets are:
TikTok is tight-lipped about specific ad costs, but they do reveal the following tips and insights:
TikTok also reveals the costs for some specific campaigns, which may help you benchmark your own spending:
Skincare brand Synth Labs Intl. ran a Spark Ads campaign to drive 300,000 impressions at $0.32 CPC.
Online jewelry store Lion Wild used video ads to drive a 19.35% conversion rate at $0.13 CPC and $0.17 CPM.
Online gaming marketplace G2A used video ads to achieve 12 million impressions at $0.16 CPM and $0.06 CPC.
Mobile games publisher Playa Games used video ads to achieve a 130% return on ad spend with a €0.06 CPC.
BVOD streaming service TVNZ OnDemand had an 0.5% click-through rate at NZ$0.42 CPC.
Beauty brand Mallows Beauty saw a 2.86% click-through rate at £0.04 CPC.
Maker marketplace Strike Gently Co. used TikTok Promote to drive a 1.9% click-through rate at $0.27 CPC.
Hyundai Australia used video ads to drive an 0.88% click-through rate at less than $0.30 CPC.
TikTok ad costs are subject to sales tax if applicable in your region. In the U.S., only advertisers based in Hawaii pay sales tax (4.71%). UK advertisers pay VAT of 20%. This amount is applied to your total ad spend, so be prepared for your bill to include tax.
Rather than using one type of creative, or very similar creatives, switch up your style. TikTok suggests updating your creative every seven days to avoid audience fatigue.
Switch it up within each video, too. TikTok recommends varied scenes with B-roll or transition footage.
Video ads can be up to 60 seconds long, but TikTok recommends keeping them to 21-34 seconds.
Make the first 3 to 10 seconds especially eye-catching and engaging to avoid losing viewers. The best-performing TikTok ads highlight the key message or product within the first 3 seconds.
93% of top-performing TikTok videos use audio, and 73% of TikTok users said they would stop and look at ads with audio. In particular, fast tracks above 120 beats per minute usually have the highest view-through rate.
But captions and text are important too. In particular, use text to highlight your call to action. TikTok found 40% of auction ads with the highest view-through rate include text overlays.
TikTok recommends that videos stay “positive, authentic and inspiring.” This is not the place to test out your dark and moody content or use a heavy-handed sales pitch. You also don’t want a video that looks too “produced.”
Try using user-generated content in your ads to keep them truly authentic. For example, one in three of the top auction ads involves someone looking directly at the camera and speaking to the audience.
The Australian brand Royal Essence used this strategy to get 2.2 million impressions and 50,000 clicks.
Canadian clothing band Penningtons partnered with the creator Alicia Mccarvell to create in-feed video ads that saw 53% more comments, 18% more likes and 55% more views than the company’s content on other platforms.
The key to success: Partnering with an established creator (a.k.a. influencer) who understood how to produce authentic TikTok content that showed off the brand without feeling too salesy.
Little Caesars used Spark Ads to amplify content from 13 creators they partnered with for their #GoCrazy campaign.
The key to success: They gave the creators complete creative control, and learned a few things in the process. They found TikToks featuring families produced the highest click-through rates for their campaign.
Wet n wild used a branded hashtag challenge to help launch their new Big Poppa mascara. Their #BiggerIsBetter challenge saw 1.5 million user videos made and 2.6 billion total views.
The key to success: wet n wild used a combo strategy of a branded hashtag challenge + a custom sound + creator partnerships + Top View ads. Each component magnified the others, resulting in massive reach.
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