In a span of just a few years, TikTok has seen massive growth in popularity and app usage. By April of 2020, it managed to reach 2 billion downloads worldwide. And in our previous post on TikTok basics, we explored some of the reasons for the app’s popularity as well as how brands can market on the platform.

Besides those marketing tactics, you could also invest in paid advertising on TikTok to further boost your brand’s impact on the app’s audience. With the app’s immense popularity, TikTok ads could be a great addition to your social media advertising strategy.

But advertising on TikTok isn’t the same as advertising on other social channels. This post gives you a detailed overview of how to run ads on the platform and what kind of ads you can use.

Types of TikTok ads

TikTok provides you with plenty of options to advertise on the platform. So you can choose what will be most effective in reaching your target audience and getting your message across. Here are the different types of TikTok ads you can run:

  • Brand takeover – This type of ad allows you to dominate the conversation as your message takes over the whole screen for a few seconds. It then turns into an in-feed video ad.
  • Branded AR content – Your ads can also appear as branded stickers, lenses and other types of AR content so TikTok users can use them in their videos.
  • In-feed video – These are ads that appear among the native news feed of TikTok users on the “For You” page.
  • Hashtag challenge – This type of ad shows up in the “Discovery” section of the app and can encourage user participation.
  • Sponsored influencer content – For this type of TikTok ad, you get your message across through sponsored content from an influential TikTok user.

How to set up ads on TikTok

TikTok advertising is rapidly evolving as the platform grows. Before the launch of new TikTok for Business solutions in June 2020, brands needed to contact the company directly to learn if they qualified for advertising. While new features and further developments may emerge in the platform’s paid ad solutions, the first step is simple: start by creating an account on the TikTok Ads Manager.

Choose your billing country or region and then select whether you’re using the account for a business or individual. Then click on “Next.”

tiktok ads manager first step signup

TikTok will then ask you to enter some basic information such as your email address and password. You’ll also have to enter a verification code sent to your email. If you choose to sign up with your phone number, then you’ll need the verification code sent to your phone.

Confirm that you agree to the terms and conditions, then click on “Sign Up.”

tiktok ads manager second step signup

Once your brand is approved, log in to your dashboard and finish the initial account setup according to the instructions. Then you can follow the steps below to create TikTok ads:

Step 1: Create a new campaign

Start by creating an ad campaign under the “Campaigns” tab and clicking on the “Create” button.

tiktok campaign creation first step

This will give you the option to choose your campaign objective – whether you want to drive traffic, conversions or app installs.

campaign objective selection

Then give your campaign a name and set a campaign-level minimum budget. You can set a lifetime budget to quickly reach as many people as possible. But if you set a daily budget, you can gradually and steadily reach out to your target audience.

campaign budget settings

Step 2: Choose your placements and targeting

Once that’s done, you can start creating an ad group for your campaign. This is where you decide on the placements and targeting for your ad group. Your choice of ad placement will determine where your ads appear on TikTok and its partner platforms.

You can either choose automatic placement or manually select your targeting placement. Automatic placement will make sure that your ads appear on all the TikTok partner apps. So it might be something to consider if you don’t have a specific placement in mind. With the “Select Placement” option, you get to manually choose which of the partner apps you want your ads to appear on.

tiktok ad placement selection

You can then configure your targeting after this, where you’ll have the option to target users based on demographics. This includes location, gender, age group, language and interest category.

tiktok ad targeting options

But if you want to target a more specific audience group, you also have the option to create a custom audience. TikTok allows you to upload the IDs of users you want to target in a CSV, ZIP or TXT file. But you can also create a custom audience based on certain metrics such as engagement, app activity and website traffic.

Step 3: Create a new ad

After setting up your ad group, you can now configure your first ad. TikTok gives you the option to upload either a video or an image file as your ad creative. For best results, make sure you follow the recommended ad specs. This will ensure that your ad looks great on TikTok and across all the partner platforms.

ad creative customization page

After creating an ad to your liking, you’ll have the option to preview it and get an idea of how it’ll appear to TikTok users. At this post, you can also find out whether your ad needs some tweaking before you submit it for review.

You can further customize your ad by naming it so it’s easier to distinguish between different ads within the same ad group. Then enter your ad text using 12-100 characters to get your message across even more effectively. This text will appear above your ad.

Next, you’ll have the option to choose between different calls to action depending on what you want your audience to do. So you can either get your audience to “Sign Up,””Download Now,” “Contact Us,” “Book Now,” “Shop Now,” “Apply Now” or “Learn More.” Then click on “Submit” to finish creating your ad.

Step 4: Measure your ad performance

The job isn’t done after launching your ad; you should also measure your performance to see how the campaign is paying off. TikTok provides native analytics that can show you how your ad is doing in terms of impressions, clicks, conversions and more. You can even test and compare the performance of different ad creative and placements to see what works best for you.

4 examples of TikTok advertising done right

Besides learning the basics, it’s just as important to see how other brands are using TikTok ads. This will give you a few ideas on how to run your own campaign. Check out these four examples of brands that launched brilliant advertising campaigns on TikTok:

1. NFL

In 2019, the NFL launched AR stickers on TikTok featuring players like Mark Ingram, Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski. Using stickers like these are a great way to generate buzz around your brand or event as it encourages user involvement.

AR filter with NFL player throwing ball

2. Chipotle

Chipotle has been dominating the TikTok platform with fun and creative video content. It also nailed their influencer advertising campaign to promote their annual “Boorito” offer for Halloween. The brand roped in top influencers known for their creativity such as Brittany Broski and Zach King.

influencer brittany broski promoting chipotle's halloween offer on tiktok

3. Kroger

Kroger was among the first companies to test out the TikTok “Hashtag Challenge Plus” feature. This allowed TikTok users to shop directly on the app for Kroger products tagged with the campaign hashtag. This not only encouraged user participation and brand visibility but also enhanced user experience by providing a smooth shopping functionality.

kroger hashtag challenge showing user videos

4. Experian

Experian launched an in-feed TikTok ad that’s straightforward and easy to understand. It showed a simple text conversation between two friends to highlight the benefits of Experian Boost for your credit score. It also came complete with a “Download” button. Everything about this ad is great because it puts directness and simplicity at the center.

experian ad featuring text conversation

Winning at TikTok advertising

TikTok advertising may feel completely different from the other social platforms you’re advertising on. But once you understand the basics, it could bring impressive results for your business. Put directness and simplicity front and center so you can easily get your message across to the app’s wide-ranging and fast-moving audience.

And if you’re still not convinced about whether or not to use the platform, don’t forget to check out some of the top reasons why brands should use TikTok.