How to Advertise on TikTok: Complete Guide To Get Started

I bet I downloaded TikTok for the same reason many of you did. First you saw memes about it in late 2018 or early 2019, then wanted to download it as a joke to see what it was all about. The only issue is now it’s 2 years later and I log into TikTok multiple times every single day. Whenever I have a couple of minutes to spare, I open up the app and watch content from my favorite creators. It reminds me of Vine, but better. Yea, I’m sure we’re in the same boat here.

Is TikTok The Future of Social Media Marketing?

Even with all of the controversy this app has with its connections to China, it continues to grow in popularity with millennials and gen z. Currently there are 37.2 million users in the USA. 13 to 34-year-olds make up 71% of TikTok’s audience, and 34 to 44-year-olds make up 20%. Those users open TikTok an average of 16 times a day and spend roughly 5 minutes on the app each session. That’s an insane amount of time on the platform, which is why TikTok has the highest engagement out of any other social media. 

The best part about TikTok is that whenever you log on, it is always fresh content. You won’t get the sameTikTok video twice because of how the platform’s algorithm works. In July TikTok broke down exactly how the highly engaging “For You” algorithm works. When you upload a video, the algorithm starts showing your video to a small subset of users. It chooses those users based on the specific user’s interests, past behaviors, language, device type, and location. If that small subset of users engages with your video through likes, comments, and shares, then the algorithm sends the video to a larger section of users and starts the test over again. This set-up literally allows anyone the ability to create a viral video. 

@fake.disney.facts

GUYS IM FREAKING OUT ##STARWARS ##starwarsfan ##starwarsmovie ##jedi ##sith ##lukeskywalker ##markhamill ##starwarsprequels ##disney ##fyp ##foryoupage ##foryou #

♬ Cantina Band – Rob Starr & The Hollywood Singers & Orchestra

How Your Brand Can Advertise On TikTok

Businesses can also jump on TikTok’s explosive growth too, through TikTok ads. TikTok has its own self-serve ad platform, which is very similar to all of the other social media platforms. Like all the other major networks, you’re able to set up TikTok ad campaigns based on numerous objectives that will fulfill your business needs. For example objectives include Reach, Traffic, App Installs, Video Views, Conversions, & Catalog Sales. 

Campaign options for TikTok's ad platform.

The TikTok Pixel & Targeting Options

TikTok also has its own pixel that you can put on your site to set up remarketing campaigns. Like Facebook and Snapchat, there is a helpful Google Chrome extension to ensure that the tag was added correctly on your site. 

An example of the TikTok pixel on a website.

There are also other targeting options besides remarketing to past website visitors. You can target users based on location, lookalike lists, custom files, custom audiences, and interests. 

5 Different Types Of TikTok Ads

There are also five types of ads you can run on TikTok. Those include in-feed, brand takeover, topview, branded hashtags, and branded effects.

Various examples of TikTok ads.

TikTok In-Feed Ads

In-feed ads are probably the most common style of ad from what I’ve seen and where most advertisers will use their ad budget. These ads are just like what you’d think, they can show up in the user’s feed as they are scrolling through videos. It is identical to how a Facebook ad would show up in the user’s feed as they scroll through their newsfeed. As far as the look of the in-feed ad, it is very similar to how Instagram Stories look. These ads will include a Watch Now, Learn Move, Download, etc call to action button at the bottom of the ad. For an example, look at the image above all the way to the left.

You could also team up with an influencer to tap into their audience for in-feed ads. Check out this creative in-feed influencer ad. 

@zachking

Even art gets hungry sometimes. Check out the @kindsnacks ##KINDSimpleCrunchContest ##ad

♬ original sound – zachking

TikTok Brand Takeover Ads

The brand takeover ad is the first thing that pops up when you open TikTok. This style of ad definitely is a top option for obtaining mass awareness and reach for your campaign because it is literally the first thing the user sees. Not only that but TikTok makes sure users don’t see more than one brand takeover ad per day. Meaning you get a lot of attention, with no competition. The downside is that they come at a high cost, that realistically is mainly for bigger brands. 

TopView TikTok Ads

TopView ads show up at the top of the For You page. They have up to 60 seconds of full-screen time with auto-play sound to grab your attention. These ads link to internal or external landing pages, where you can send the user to make a purchase. For example, in the below image, Balenciaga sent viewers to their shopping pages. 

An example of a TopView TikTok ad.

TikTok Branded Hashtags

Branded hashtags are unique to TikTok’s ad platform. If you’ve been on the app, you’ve definitely seen the hashtag of brands displayed on the discovery page or at the bottom of videos. Branded hashtags challenges offer both organic user-generated content as well as sponsored opportunities. 

An example of a Hashtag Ad from TikTok.
The TikTok Hashtag Ad received 781.6 million views.

There are also ad spots like this #GotMilkChallenge hashtag on the discovery page, although they cost $150,000 a day. The good news is that that has 781.6 million views. Again this is more geared towards larger brands, but there are still effective ways smaller companies can use TikTok ads.

TikTok Branded Effects

Similar to Snapchat’s branded AR filters, TikTok’s branded effects allow advertisers to create their own custom filter on the app. It is a fun way to encourage users to directly interact with your brand. 

TikTok Advertising Best Practices

To get started on your TikTok ads campaign, where are some high-level best practices. 

  • Generally TikTok campaigns will be higher funnel, so start with Reach or Traffic as the objective, but you can certainly use other objectives if they fit into your marketing strategy. 
  • Set up your bid as your target cost per action (CPA). 
  • Aim for an initial daily budget of 20x your target CPA. 
  • Then avoid editing your ad groups until the ad group passes the learning phase of TikTok’s algorithm. The learning phase is going to continuously explore new potential customers to find your best audience,which generally takes about 50 conversions. 
  • When creating the ads, try TikTok’s creative tools such as Smart Video, which lets you efficiently design new ads. 
  • This part is the most important. Remember to keep your creative FRESH! At minimum update it every 7 days.
  • Although normal TikTok videos are up to 60 seconds long, keep your ad creative shorter. 9 to 15 second generally works well. 

Contact us to set up a new paid media account, and TikTok will even give you free ad credits. You’ll get $300 in ad credit, which is double what Google Ads gives for a new account!

Is TikTok Marketing Right For My Business?

This advertising platform is definitely worth considering if your target audience is younger, especially for targeting people 13 to 34-years-old. It continues to grow, even with the 35+ crowd, despite controversies and rivalries from Instagram Reel. TikTok’s huge following is not going to go away, and you need to stay in front of your audience. You do that by showing ads where they are. Hint, they’re on TikTok. 

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