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A to Z Guide to TikTok Advertising For Beginners

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TikTok isn’t all about the silly dances and funny skits. In recent years TikTok advertising has become a big industry that has great influence over the market. With around 800 million monthly active users and over 2 billion downloads, the short video social media platform has become incredibly popular. Depending on your target audience, TikTok ads might be an incredible platform for your business!

What Is TikTok?

If you never heard of TikTok you must be living under a rock or over 40! Jokes aside, TikTok is a social media platform that focuses on short video formats. You could say it is the spiritual successor to platforms like Vine and

You might have heard of it in the news as it was in the middle of a long trade war between the US and China. TikTok was supposed to be banned from doing business inside the US unless certain agreements happened. Luckily for TikTok, the ban didn’t happen and the company got a lot of free advertising. Now it’s bigger than ever and it’s still growing further!

TikTok is more popular than LinkedIn, Reddit, Snapchat, Twitter, and many other platforms. So it’s no wonder that advertising on it might prove very lucrative.

Should You Advertise on TikTok?

TikTok wasn’t always a great place to advertise. TikTok ads were not effective a few years ago and not many companies considered it viable at all. In 2021 that is not the case anymore. Big companies like Nike, Apple, Grubhub, NBA, UEFA, Amazon, Chipotle, and many more have joined the platform and are successfully creating massive campaigns on the platform. These big players proved that TikTok ads are more than just a gimmick. They were real tools for advertising that companies could and should use.

The only thing that potential advertisers need to take into account is the demographic. Most of the users on TikTok are younger people. Teenagers and young adults make around 70% of the audience. So if you have a brand or product that caters to older audiences, TikTok might not be the right platform for you.

What Kind of Budget Do You Need?

At the moment TikTok advertising is expensive. The ad platform within the social media app is still young and developing and the prices can be eye-watering at times. On average you can expect to pay around $10 per CPM. So larger campaigns can cost a lot of cash. Something smaller businesses might not be able to afford. Also, TikTok needs a minimum investment of $600 which can be a tough pill to swallow for some. The platform is working on bringing the prices down but it hasn’t improved much so far.

What Else Do You Need for a TikTok Ad Campaign

If you are ok with the demographic and prices and you want to advertise to TikTok’s audience, here is what you need to do.

  • Create a TikTok Account
  • Create and Set Up Your You Campaign
  • Budget Properly
  • Optimize Your Campaigns so They Run Smoothly and Efficiently
  • Hopefully, Succeed in Your Advertising Goals

Create a TikTok Ads Account for Your Business and your first Ad

Creating your account is simple. Visit the TikTok ads homepage and click create an ad. There you will be presented with a registration form where you will have to fill in your details. Similar to any other ad platform. After you submit your info the TikTok team will have to approve your account. This usually lasts up to 48hours. But due to COVID, this could vary.

Once your TikTok ad account is made and approved, move to the dashboard. There you can find the “campaign” tab. Upon opening it you should have a pretty big create button. Click it and follow the instructions to create your first campaign. You will have to select your campaign objective. You will pick from traffic, conversions, and app installs.

Within campaigns, you can create ad groups and ad groups can have individual ads inside of them. This is similar to the Facebook ads system.

Setup Your TikTok Ad Campaign

The next thing you should do is start setting up your campaign. You need to set specific things like ad placements, details, and targeting. TikTok ads, unlike others, let you advertise on multiple platforms. These platforms are linked with the TokTok one in one way or another. You can even let TikTok ads decide where to place your ads. The most popular options are Vigo Video, Babe, TopBuss, BuzzVideo, News Republic, and other platforms. Don’t expect to see Instagram or Facebook on this list.

After you decide which your preferred placements are, you will need to enter some additional info like URLs, creatives, keywords, and such. The better your creatives, keywords, and display names are the better your campaigns will be. So enter this with care.

You will also have to select your targeting. You can create custom audiences that have specific parameters like:

  • Gender
  • Location
  • Age
  • Languages
  • Interests
  • Connections
  • OS versions

While this targeting isn’t as detailed as the one on Google Ads or Facebook, it is good enough for what TikTok offers. You can also import a custom audience via CSV, TXT, or ZIP file. These will have to have their TikTok IDs present for them to work as intended.

The AD formats that work on TikTok are video and image ads. Videos are better as they fit in better with the platform. Videos up to 60 seconds are allowed though staying under 15 seconds is recommended.

Budgeting, Scheduling, and Goals of a TikTok Campaign

As with any ad platform you will need to set up your budgeting when starting campaigns. You can focus on daily budgets (allowing you more control) or a monthly one. TikTok advertisement is not as affordable as other options. You will need to spend at least $20 a day on your ad sets ($50 daily on a campaign level). If you are a small business TikTok maybe isn’t the best platform for you, so, make sure the demographic you are targeting is matching TikTok’s user base.

After you decided on a budget that at least meets the minimum requirements you should decide on the scheduling of your ads. With this scheduling, you can set up when exactly your ads will show up on people’s feeds. To get the right time of day/week you will need to do some market research. You should find out when your audience is mostly online so that you don’t advertise in vain. You can set the budget pacing as well. So you can better control how much the ads will spend throughout the campaign duration.

The last thing you need to set up is your goals. This choice will help TikTok Ads decide how and where to place your ads, as well as who to show them. In theory, this should help your ads work better and give you more for your money. The goals are different in how they are presented to the customers. They differ in a couple of ways, the biggest one being the pricing type. The current choice for ad optimizations are:

  • Conversions (oCPC - Optimized cost per click. This is similar to regular CPC but TikTok tries to optimize it as best as possible)
  • Clicks (Standard CPC system)
  • Impressions (CPM - Cost per Mile. Per 1000 impressions)

You will also need to set up tracking for these goals. You can do this by creating conversion events in the library tab. This all is a pretty standard options list. Ad platforms like Google and Facebook have a lot more choices in all aspects.

What Kind of Ads Work Best on TikTok?

TikTok currently offers a couple of ad types. The main ones are:

  • In-feed Ads

In-feed ads are the most default way of advertising. Everyone knows how it works, and TikTok is no different. These are types of native ads that fit in within your Feed. They will show up at the end of organic videos or randomly inside the video queue. Usually, they cost around $10 per CPM so they are relatively affordable compared to some other forms of ads on the platform. This costs between $25,000 to $30,000*!

  • Top View

Top View was called brand takeover before but the name changed. Now Top View is split into two. The regular one and a lite version. Of course, the lite version has some features missing.

What even is Top View. It is an ad that shows up to all people upon them opening up the app. These ads can last a minute in the worst cases, but usually, they should only be a few seconds. A unique thing about these is that only one advertiser per category can do top view ads in one particular moment. This will set you back around $50,000*!

  • Branded Effect / Lenses

TikTok has a vast selection of lenses and effects that use the camera and augmented reality (AR). Platforms like Instagram and Snapchat popularized this and TikTok is only continuing the trend. They offer the possibility for companies to sponsor the lenses/effects so that they show up amongst the first ones during searches for lenses or effects. This will cost your business from $80,000 - $120,000*.

  • Branded Hashtag Challenges

TikTok is all about viral trends. One way to try and force a viral trend is via hashtag challenges. With these, the app will advertise your sponsored tag and encourage users to share and create content that is related to the hashtag. Giving your company more exposure. These deals usually last a week and then the hashtag returns to normal. In theory, you could do this organically but that is a lot easier said than done. If you decide to do a hashtag challenge, prepare to spend around $150,000 for six days.

  • Influencers

Last but not least. Influencers. These people are the top creators on the platform. You can create deals for them to advertise your products and services within their content. This is an old yet very effective way of advertising on social media so use it. Just make sure your influencer of choice has some influence over their audience and that your niches match. You won’t sell much makeup on a TikTok star that is always creating content on cars. The cost of these is based on the individual's prices. An average is $600 - $1000* per post.

*All the prices are subject to change with time

Optimizations for Your TikTok Ad Campaigns

When creating your TikTok ad campaign you need to make sure that the creatives you use are high quality. Your images and videos need to be of high resolution and decent bitrate. The aspect ratio should be made to fit vertical videos on mobile phones.

The ad copy on TikTok ads is incredibly limited (80 characters) so don’t expect to explain anything in detail with words. Your videos and images need to be able to convey your message by themselves. You should focus on only one call-to-action (CTA) so you avoid customer confusion.

Budgeting is always a big part of any campaign. Usually, the more you spend the more people see your ad. Simple! Though this also has its limits. What you need to find is a perfect balance. The most performance for the lowest price. On TikTok, this means mostly having good targeting for your ads and not overspending.

Final Words

TikTok advertising is great for bigger companies that want to get a bunch of eyes on their product quickly. As with any platform, before advertising, you should check out what the audience is. If your audience matches the one on TikTok, you need to target the right people and prepare to spend some serious cash on advertising. Knowing how to advertise is only a part of the equation. What you need to focus on is how to make your ads work to attract new users or customers.

Are you a TikTok user? Have you ever advertised on the platform? What is your experience with it?