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How to Advertise on TikTok: Step By Step Guide

Contrary to what you might believe, TikTok isn’t exclusively made for Gen Z memes, crazy camera filters and novelty dances. 

(Granted – there is a bit of that going on.)

TikTok is one of the most exciting platforms available to digital advertisers. The app is constantly evolving and growing at incredible speeds. It currently boasts 1 billion monthly existing TikTok users across the world, and this isn’t likely to slow down. 

As the platform grows, it’s also delivering innovative advertising opportunities and access to a unique user base. 

So, if you’re an e-commerce brand, it’s about time you jumped on the TikTok bandwagon.

To help you get started, we’ve created a step-by-step guide for TikTok advertising. We’ll cover everything from audience targeting to ad formats to ensure that you’re equipped for success.

What are TikTok ads?

TikTok offers advertisers a diverse range of different formats, ranging from standard in-feed placements to more bespoke activations. 

Some ads are designed to deliver straightforward ad messaging, while others encourage more user engagement and creativity. 

However, all of these formats have one thing in common. They’re all highly visual, which is important to consider when planning your TikTok ad campaign. 

Choosing the right format all depends on your business objectives, but we’ll cover each placement in more detail a little later. 

Are TikTok ads right for your business?

TikTok undoubtedly offers an exciting opportunity for advertisers, because the platform is so unique.

However, the unique nature of TikTok means that it might not work for every advertiser. 

The first thing to consider is your target audience. The current TikTok user base leans heavily towards younger generations – it’s estimated that 60% of global TikTok users are under the age of 30.

If your target audience sits firmly in this age group, then you could be onto a winner. 

If you’re looking to target older prospects, then you may need to think about how effectively you can reach them on TikTok. Although this demographic could shift over time (as TikTok may want to expand its reach) this is still a big factor.

The second thing to consider is cost. When it comes to some of the more exciting TikTok formats (e.g. Branded Lenses) there’s a premium attached. 

Brands like Disney and Nike appear frequently on the platform with a wide range of innovative activations, but this is due to their near-infinite marketing budgets. 

If you’re a new advertiser without much experience on other platforms (e.g. Facebook) and a limited budget, then it may be wise to invest in more standard placements. 

However, if you’re already active on more established platforms and looking to test the TikTok waters, you might consider exploring a variety of different formats.

What are the benefits of TikTok advertising?

There are several benefits associated with TikTok advertising – but here are three of the most compelling reasons to jump onto the app.

It’s perfect for influencer marketing

TikTok has created the ideal environment for influencer marketing. Because users are comfortable with creators frequently promoting different products, influencer campaigns aren’t seen as intrusive or forced. 

A lot of TikTok influencer content is filmed in an organic style, which lends itself to authenticity and a sense of credibility. 

While several influencers have gathered tens of millions of followers, you can also partner with smaller micro-influencers to reach more niche audiences cost-effectively. 

Position yourself ahead of the competition

Although TikTok has exploded in popularity for both users and advertisers, it’s still a relatively new platform in the world of social media.

Many brands haven’t yet explored TikTok marketing, and aren’t taking full advantage of the app. That means you have an opportunity to separate yourself from the herd and appear in environments where your competitors aren’t active. 

Advertising on TikTok may also reflect favourably on your business since you’re embracing a modern platform and proving your ability to move with the times. 

All without needing to learn any new dance moves. 

The platform lends itself to creativity 

The visual nature of TikTok allows you to run some seriously creative campaigns. 

Since the TikTok app isn’t saturated with paid ads, you have an opportunity to stand out and deliver some truly bold content to your target audience. 

All of the TikTok ad formats encourage brand creativity, and advertisers thinking outside of the box can quickly earn fame and organic reach. So whether you want to run some stunning video assets or kick off a brand new audience trend, you just need to get inventive. 

How much will TikTok ads cost? 

Now – let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of TikTok ads. How much is a campaign going to cost?

Well, that depends on the type of format that you’re running.

The minimum budget for a standard in-feed campaign is approximately £400, with a minimum ad-group budget of £15.

These budget thresholds are set to ensure that you can afford sufficient scale to achieve your objectives. If you’re just starting to experiment with TikTok advertising, it’s advisable to test these standard placements with lower budgets to gauge performance.

More dynamic ad formats (such as branded lenses) will cost a lot more. These special placements have the potential to deliver some impressive results, but the cost will need to be considered.

Ultimately, it all comes down to the budget you have available. As with any social platform, we’d recommend a slow and steady approach, testing new formats and increasing budgets if the results justify it. 

Different types of TikTok ads

Although TikTok ads offer a lot of variety for advertisers, they can be broken down into two simple ad types – biddable ads (standard in-feed placements) and non-biddable ads (bespoke formats).

How do biddable ads work?

Biddable ads allow you to bid on in feed ads on the TikTok platform and are the only self service ads available on the network. 

You’ll be able to choose from a few different bidding strategies for your campaign, depending on your preferred approach. 

For example, you may want to prioritise a low and stable cost-per-result, or you might be more interested in maximising results and spending the full budget. 

Check out this page for more info on the different bidding tactics. You may need to experiment with different strategies to figure out what you’re most comfortable with.

There are also three different pricing models available for your advertising campaigns:

  1. CPC (Cost Per Click)
  2. CPM (Cost Per Mille)
  3. CPV (Cost Per View)

Your pricing model will be determined by your campaign objective. 

For instance, if you’re looking to drive site traffic or app installs, a CPC buy will be most effective, as this will optimise towards clicks and actions. 

For maximum campaign reach, CPM is most suitable. If you’re hoping to boost views on a shiny new video asset, then the CPV model is for you. 

Are there native ads available on TikTok? 

Beyond the standard in-feed biddable ads, advertisers can also access Spark Ads – a native placement designed to promote organic content. 

Spark Ads allow brands to promote their own posts in-feed (e.g. if a video is driving high levels of engagement) or even promote user generated content with permission from the creator. 

This is a great way to capitalise on organic posts that are gaining traction with followers or to amplify positive user content about your brand. 

How do non-biddable ads work?

Want to bring something more innovative to the TikTok table?

Non-biddable ads could be the answer.

These formats require a substantially larger budget to activate, and you’ll also need to work alongside a TikTok account manager to set things up. However, if done correctly, these ads can generate some serious audience reach and brand awareness. 

Below are the TikTok advertising formats that fall under the non-biddable umbrella:

Brand Takeover Ad

Brand takeovers are the ideal ad format for advertisers looking to make a statement. 

This format appears as soon as the app is opened, and dominates the entire screen. It’s limited to a single advertiser per day, so you’re guaranteed exclusive visibility among your target audience. 

You’ll just need to ensure that your assets are sufficiently impactful for a full-screen takeover. 

Hashtag Challenges

We’ve all been exposed to a viral social media challenge at some point.

They may seem like a gimmick, but brands that nail the perfect trend can enjoy sky-high levels of engagement and brand awareness. 

TikTok allows advertisers to kick-start their own hashtag challenge by uploading a sponsored video and encouraging users to participate. This could be a dance routine, an athletic feat, a physical challenge – the possibilities are endless. 

Creativity and bravery are the keys here. You just need to make sure that the challenge feels relevant to your brand and exciting enough to encourage interaction. 

Branded Lenses

Branded lenses allow you to create and distribute an augmented reality filter for users to incorporate into their content. 

These lenses function in a similar way to those found on Instagram and Snapchat – it’s all about the creative idea. You need a strong concept to fuel a branded lens campaign and something that makes sense for your brand. 

Branded lenses can also be combined with hashtag challenges to encourage wider participation.

Influencer Packages 

Finding the perfect influencer for your products can deliver some sterling results for your campaign, but it can be tricky to know where to start. 

TikTok offers influencer packages to advertisers, making the process that much easier. You’ll be connected to appropriate influencers who’ll then begin to create sponsored content for your brand. 

This kind of user generated content is ideal for the TikTok platform, and is likely to drive high levels of engagement. 

You can find out more info about TikTok influencer packages here.

How can I target audiences on TikTok?

TikTok offers several audience segments to advertisers, and your targeting can be as sophisticated or as simple as you’d like.

There are some standard targeting options available, including:

  • Demographic (based on gender, age, location, language)
  • Interests (based on content engagement, follows, etc)
  • Device (based on the operating system, device model, etc)

These options can be run in combination, so you’ll be able to target some fairly specific segments when layering these tactics. 

However, TikTok also allows you to create custom audiences for another level of granularity. Custom audience targeting includes:

  • Customer File (based on matches with your first-party data)
  • Engagement (based on ad clicks, ad impressions, ad views)
  • App Activity (based on activity on your app, such as log-ins, purchases, etc) 
  • Website Traffic (based on website actions, such as add to cart, page view, etc)
  • Leader Generation (based on engagement with your Lead Ads) 

Check out this page for more details on audiences and ad targeting. 

How to set up TikTok ads

Feeling ready to kick off a video campaign or start a viral hashtag sensation? 

Great stuff.

To help you get started, let’s run through the steps involved with setting up a new campaign.

1. Start a TikTok Ads Account

First things first, you’ll need to make an advertiser account.

Luckily, this is fairly simple. Just visit this page, click Get Started, and complete the form with some basic details about your business. 

TikTok will then assess your application and confirm if you’ve been approved for an account.

2. Create a new campaign

Once you have access to the TikTok Ads Manager, click the Campaign tab and hit Create. 

TikTok follows a campaign structure that you might already be familiar with – you’ll set up an overarching Campaign, specific Ad Groups, and then Ads within these groups. 

Select the goal of your campaign (traffic, conversion or app install) and set your campaign budget. This can be calculated as a total lifetime budget or a daily budget. 

3. Set up the ad group

Now it’s time to organise the ad group level of your campaign. 

Firstly, decide whether you’d like your ads to appear exclusively on TikTok, or across the wider network (which includes geo-specific sites like TopBuzz in the USA). 

You can also let the TikTok algorithm decide the best placements for your campaign, based on your budget and objectives. This can be a helpful option if you’re intending to run multiple ads. 

Enter further details about your ad group (landing page URL, categories, etc) and you’ll then be prompted to confirm your targeting options.  

4. Confirm campaign level details 

You’ll then be able to set up your campaign schedule, confirm your TikTok ad spend, and also tweak pacing options. 

For example, you might want to pace the budget evenly across the full campaign or accelerate spending to deliver more impressions in a set period. 

You’ll also need to confirm how your ad group will be optimised (i.e. conversions, clicks, impressions) and whether you’d like Smart Optimization enabled. 

This is best for conversion campaigns, so we’d recommend switching off if you’re hunting for clicks or impressions. 

5. Design your ad

If the idea of designing your ad sounds a little daunting, don’t panic.

TikTok ads are pretty unique, so there are some intuitive tools available to help you create some smashing assets for your campaign. 

You can choose from a huge number of different templates to create new video ads, and even use Automated Creative Optimisations to produce a batch of different ads which will be tested against each other. 

Smart, eh? 

The video creation kit can even capture images from your landing page and combine them with music to create TikTok ads. You’ll then just need to add some snappy ad copy. 

Voila! You’ve designed your own ad.

Congratulations. You’re ready to launch your first TikTok campaign. 

Top tips for TikTok success

TikTok can feel like unfamiliar territory for new advertisers, so here are some practical tips for success. 

Embrace the new 

To find real success on TikTok, you’ll need to be open to new ideas.

Stay on top of current trends and don’t hesitate to get involved with hashtag challenges or influencer marketing. This is a key part of TikTok advertising that will keep your brand relevant and exciting for prospects. 

Stay active 

Keep your brand profile busy with organic TikTok videos and regular activity. 

Posting frequent content will build momentum and ensure that users return to your page, boosting engagement and exposure for your business. 

Although you’re running a brand profile on TikTok, acting like a genuine human will help you to connect with prospects. Get involved in the comment sections and interact with your followers. Don’t be shy! 

Balance organic and sponsored 

It’s also important to balance the content on your profile. Although sponsored posts and ad content is key to delivering against your objectives, you need to mix things up to stay interesting.

Post regular video content that’s genuinely helpful for your customers, without necessarily pushing a CTA or product sale. 

This will keep users engaged, and also means that your sponsored content will blend seamlessly into your organic posts. 

TikTok best practices to note down

Now that you’ve wrapped your head around the TikTok advertising process and our tips for success, it’s time to nail down best practices.

Look to other brands for inspiration

When you’re just starting your TikTok advertising career, it can be hugely beneficial to soak up some inspiration from other brands.

TikTok has a handy page that’s designed for that purpose. You can select specific products or industries to check out case studies from your sector, or broaden your horizons and look beyond your category. 

Follow the ad specs

Not the most exciting piece of advice – but potentially the most important!

Make sure that you follow the TikTok ad specs closely to ensure that you avoid any headaches or delays with approvals. 

You can run through detailed specs here, so it’s worth referring back to this page whenever you’re creating a new asset. 

Quality visuals

Last but certainly not least, make sure that your ad content looks good!

TikTok is an advertising platform built on exciting visuals, so you need to meet some fairly high standards if you’re going to attract attention.

Use high-resolution assets for any image ads, and try to include any super important ad text in the assets themselves. You only have a split second to stop a user from scrolling, so make sure that your ads are clear and compelling.

How do I track results on TikTok?

To keep an eye on your TikTok campaign performance, simply access your TikTok Ads dashboard and check out the Analytics section.

From here you can easily monitor basic metrics like:

  • Followers 
  • Video analytics (shares, likes, comments)
  • Profile views 
  • Traffic sources (feed, searches, hashtags, etc)

This is brilliant for a quick performance snapshot and helps to identify what type of content is resonating with your audience. 

However, for more granular business insights and performance data, we’d recommend implementing a TikTok pixel on your site – this allows you to attribute site actions to your ads (e.g. conversion events), optimize ads and build out smart lookalike audiences. 

Click here for a helpful guide on implementing a TikTok pixel. 

Hiring an Agency

You can hire us as your expert TikTok marketing agency, please get in touch for a free consultation.

And there you have it – TikTok advertising in a nutshell. 

TikTok might seem confusing for new advertisers, or even slightly intimidating, but it’s just a matter of diving in and testing things out. The platform is certainly different to other major social apps, but it’s this uniqueness that makes it so exciting.

Also, no need to thank us if your brand becomes a viral sensation. Well, maybe an email. 

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