TikTok for Brands

December 9, 2021

Last update


09 MIN.

A Complete Guide to TikTok Ads

Get started with creating your own TikTok ad campaign: a very effective way to bring awareness to your brand, increase leads, and generate revenue!



A Complete Guide to TikTok Ads

You are probably running ad campaigns on more established social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. You might even be using paid search via Google Adwords. Now you are looking into running ads on the fastest growing social media platform - TikTok. 

There are already a ton of articles online on running advertising campaigns on platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. But there are not many good articles on TikTok ads.

The reason for this is that many marketers do not fully understand the TikTok platform. TikTok started off with a bang and most brands and marketers are still playing catch up. 

To help you get started, I have written this very in-depth guide on TikTok Ads. In this article, you will find all the steps you need to follow to create a TikTok advertising campaign from start to finish. 

Let’s get started.

Why You Should Advertise on TikTok

TikTok ads are sponsored short-form mobile videos posted to the TikTok platform with the intention of reaching a larger audience. TikTok advertisements are usually used to increase brand exposure, grow website traffic, and generate new leads. 

TikTok is a social platform strictly dedicated to short-form videos. You are not allowed to post images or text ads on the platform. You can only use videos or videos with text overlays to reach your target audience with ads. 

We've seen a brief intro into how TikTok works. Let's see some stats showing why you should advertise on TikTok.

  • TikTok is the sixth most popular social media platform in the world. TikTok has over 800 million active users. The platform has more users than Reddit, Snapchat, and LinkedIn. 
  • TikTok is used in more than 154 countries.
  • TikTok has been downloaded over 1.5 billion times. The lifetime user spend on TikTok has also hit $175 million worldwide. (Sensor Tower)
  • More than one-third (37%) of unique visitors to TikTok come from households with a total income of $100K or more. 
  • 29.5% of users on TikTok are aged between 20 and 29. 
  • TikTok has the highest social media engagement rates across 100,000 user profiles according to research from Influencer Marketing Hub. 
  • The platform is available in 39 languages!
  • 90 percent of users on TikTok use the app multiple times daily.

These stats show the value that TikTok can bring to your brand. If you haven't added TikTok to your social marketing strategy, then you should!

Are TikTok Ads Right For Your Business?

This is an important question to ask. Before investing in TikTok ads, you want to make sure that it's the best move for your business. 

Depending on your audience demographic, TikTok might not be the best platform for you. TikTok has a more youthful audience than most social media platforms. 

According to Statista, teenagers are the highest share of users. 32.5% of users are aged between 10 and 19, then 29.5% are aged between 20 and 29. Combined, the users aged 10 - 29 account for 62% of total users. Only 16.4% of TikTok users are aged between 30 and 39, and just 7.1% are 50+. 

The gender gap on the platform is minimal. 56% of TikTok users are male and 44% are female.



If your business provides services for individuals aged 50+, the app might not be the best option for you. TikTok ads work best if your audience is composed of teens or young adults. 

Even with the young audience, you shouldn't totally dismiss the platform. With TikTok increasing in popularity daily, more individuals are joining the platform. With time, older demographics are likely to start using the app. 

Similar to other social media platforms, you can also choose to target the older demographic directly. TikTok allows you to set your ad targeting using demographic components like age, gender, location, interests, and device type. 

How Much Do TikTok Ads Cost?

Getting started with TikTok ads is a bit expensive. It has a more premium cost than most social media platforms. While you can create In-Feed ads with your own budget and schedule, you would need a minimum campaign budget of $500 to get started. The minimum ad group budget is $50. Unlike Facebook where you can start a campaign with as little as $1, TikTok can be a bit pricey. 

TikTok ads start at $10 per CPM. Reports from adage show that TikTok’s cost of advertising can be between $50,000 to $120,000 depending on the ad format and duration. 

These ad costs might be too high for small businesses or solopreneurs. The good news is that there are other ways to advertise on the platform aside from TikTok’s native paid advertising program. (We will look more into this later in the article).

TikTok Ad Formats

TikTok has 5 ad formats. Let's look into how each type works. 

In-Feed Ads

In-Feed Ads are similar to the ads you see while scrolling through your Instagram feed. In-Feed Ads appear as the user scrolls through the For You section on TikTok’s homepage. 

In-Feed video ads can be 9 - 15 seconds long. You can also add a call-to-action to increase your conversions. 

The call-to-action can be a link to your website (to help you increase website traffic), a link to your online shop (to increase sales), or a link to a landing page (to help increase subscriptions to your service). The sky's the limit when it comes to call-to-actions. You can even include multiple calls-to-action if you want. 

Another feature of TikTok In-Feed Ads is that users can like, comment, share, and interact with the videos. So, if you want to increase engagement with your followers, In-Feed Ads are a suitable option. 

Branded Takeover 

Branded Takeover ads are TikTok ads that appear immediately when a user opens the app. The ad would appear as a full-screen video on the user's device. 

This ad format is more direct than In-Feed Ads because your ad is the first thing the user sees when they open the app. Another feature of this ad format is that your ads can also appear in the For You page as videos, GIFs, or still images.  

You can also include a clickable link that directs users to a Hashtag challenge within the app or as an external link to a landing page. 

This is an example of how Guess Jeans used the clickable link feature to redirect users to their viral #InMyDenim challenge. 


Guess Jeans launched a Brand Takeover ad that featured a clickable link to increase awareness of the hashtag challenge campaign. The challenge involved consumers showing off their fashion style in denim. 

After 6 days of running the Brand Takeover ad campaign, 5,500 users created videos using the #InMyDenim hashtag. The videos had over 10.5 million views, a 14.3% engagement rate, and over 12,000 users followed Guess' TikTok account. 

Note that Brand Takeover Ads are exclusive. This means that users see only one Brand Takeover ad a day. This factor makes the cost of Brand Takeover Ads high. 


TopView Ads are very similar to Brand Takeover Ads. The only difference is that TopView Ads appear 5 seconds after the user opens the app. 

It is also TikTok’s longest video ad format. TopView videos can be as long as 60 seconds. The videos are full-screen with sound and auto-play. The ad allows you to add links to internal or external pages. 

Balenciaga used the TopView ad format to drive traffic to their shopping pages. 


The ad showed a beautiful full-screen video of their product overlaid with bold text to draw attention. They added a call-to-action to send people to their shopping page. 

The ad had over 23 million impressions across the UK, France, and Italy. The average CTR of the ad was around 18%. 

Branded Hashtag Challenge

Branded Hashtag Challenges are sponsored hashtag challenges that are featured in TikTok’s Discover Page. 

When a user clicks on the sponsored hashtag, they are redirected to a landing page with the sponsor's logo, website link, challenge description, and the most popular videos using the hashtag. 

The only disadvantage of this ad format is its expensive cost. You might have to pay up to $150,000 to get featured on TikTok’s Discovery banner. 

The good news is that you can run a Branded Hashtag Challenge without spending so much. Instead of using TikTok’s advertising program, you can partner with influencers to promote your branded hashtag. 

Branded Effects

With this ad format, brands can customize their ads using AR filters, stickers, lenses, and branded shareable stickers. You can also create a custom filter directly on the app. 


Branded Effects can help add personality to your ads. Your goal is to draw the attention of the user and get them to take a specific action. Branded effects like stickers and augmented reality can help you increase the engagement on your ad. 

Setting Up Your TikTok Ads Campaign

Here are the steps to follow in setting up your TikTok Ads campaign:

Create a TikTok Ads account

The first step is to visit the TikTok Ads home page and click on the Create an Ad button. 


If you are not in India, Japan, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, or Indonesia, you would need to go through a TikTok advertising representative before you can open an ad account. You’ll need to fill out a form where you input your business details. 


After you have filled in the form, a TikTok advertising representative will reach out to you. 

Create your ads campaign 

When you open the TikTok Ads dashboard, you will see four tabs - Campaign, Library, Reporting, and Insights. Click on the Campaign tab and click the Create button to get started. 


Next, you choose your advertising objective. The advertising objective will be the goal of your ad. The options you can choose from are:

  • Traffic
  • Conversions, and
  • App Installs

The next step is setting your budget. Under the settings tab, you can choose either a daily budget or a total budget. Note that your daily budget or total budget cannot be less than $50.

Create a TikTok Ad Group

After you have set up your advertising objective and budget, you’ll need to create an Ad group. This is where you set up your ad placement, details, targeting, schedule, bidding method, and delivery type. 

Set up your ad placements: This is the point where you choose where your ads will show up. You can either choose Automatic Placements or set it up manually. 


Set up ad details: Next, you’ll fill in the ad details section. You need to give a full description of what your ad is about. 

The ad details include the following:

  • Promotion type: Here you choose the advertising objective of the ad. You can choose either app install or website. 
  • Display name: Add the name of your brand.
  • Profile image: This is the image that your audience would see on the ad. It must have an aspect ratio of 1:1 and not more than 50KB.
  • Category: Select the right category that describes your promotion.
  • Ad tags: TikTok algorithms will use the tags (keywords) you choose to match your ad with the right audience. You can add up to 20 tags per ad.
  • User comment: You can enable this feature if you want users to be able to comment on your ad.

Set up targeting: This section allows you to define who sees your ads. The parameters you set include the audience, gender, location, age, languages, interest category, connection type, and OS versions. 


If you have a custom audience that you want to show ads to, TikTok offers the option to upload a custom list either as a CSV, TXT, or Zip file. 

Set up a budget and schedule: Next, you set your campaign budget and schedule. You can either choose a Daily Budget or a Lifetime Budget.


Next, you schedule how long you want the ad to run for. After choosing the dates you want the ad to run over, you can take it further by specifying the times of the day the ad will be shown. 

Choose your pacing options

At this point, you choose how fast your ad will run. There are two options you can choose from - the Standard and Accelerated delivery method.

  • The Standard delivery method would pace your ad evenly throughout the duration of the campaign.
  • The Accelerated delivery method would spend your ad budget as quickly as possible. 

Select your optimization goal

Your optimization goal should reflect the purpose of your overall campaign. You can either choose Conversions, Clicks, or Impressions as your ad goal. Your bidding will also depend on the optimization goal you choose. 

If you choose Conversions as your goal, your ads will be shown to people who would be most likely to take your specified action. The bidding method for conversion goals is oCPC (optimization cost per click). This means you would bid on the individual cost conversion you’d expect. 

If you choose Clicks as your optimization goal, your ad will be optimized by the algorithm to get as many clicks as possible. The bidding method for Clicks is CPC (cost per click). 

If you choose Impressions as your goal, your ad will be optimized to get as many impressions as possible. The bidding method for Impressions is CPM (cost per mile or cost per thousand impressions).

Note that if you choose Conversions as your goal, you will need to set up a conversion tracking pixel. You can set this up in the Library section by tapping on Conversions. 

It's also important that you enable TikTok’s Smart Optimization option. This will ensure that TikTok continues to optimize your ad for conversions.

Design your ad using TikTok’s video creation kit

The TikTok ads platform has a tool called the Video Creation Kit that provides you with image and video templates that you can use in customizing your own posts. It also comes with 300+ free background music options. 

After uploading your media from your computer or adding it from your Library, click on Create a Video. 


After you have created the video, you can then write your text copy and call-to-action button.


After you have done this, click Submit and your ad will go live on the scheduled date. 

How TikTok Ranks Ads

The main factors TikTok uses in ranking ads are relevance, ad quality, and bidding. While bid price is important, high quality and relevant ads are given priority because they get more engagement and make the platform more money. Ad buyers say that TikTok also considers engagement factors like shares, comments, and likes. 

TikTok is most likely using watch time and watch loops (how many times a user watches an ad) to determine its relevance. So to increase your watch time, you need to consistently create quality videos for your ads. 

Types of TikTok Advertising and Marketing 

There are several strategies you can use to advertise and market your brand on TikTok. Apart from using TikTok’s paid advertising program, you can advertise your brand in the following ways:

Partnering with influencers

This is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote your brand on TikTok. You can partner with influencers to promote your brand. Influencer marketing is very effective in generating brand awareness. 

In fact, working with social media influencers can increase your business ROI by up to 11%. Another report showed that businesses make an average of $6.50 per $1 that is spent on influencer marketing. 

CashApp used a song to go viral and promote their brand on the app after partnering with influencers. 


It is important that you choose the right influencers to partner with. Don't just choose an influencer because they have a high number of views or followers. The best practice is to choose influencers who post content that is relevant to your brand and goals. 

Choose influencers who are directly related to your niche or industry. For example, if you are a fitness brand, it would make more sense to work with an influencer in the health niche than a tech influencer.  

Also, look at their engagement rates. Influencers with consistent engagement rates usually have audiences that trust their content. The point of your campaign is for users to engage with your brands. The more trusted an influencer is on the platform, the more engagement they receive. 

You can use influencer marketing platforms to easily find the best influencers to work with. These platforms would do all the work in finding influencers that best suit your brand, product, or service. 

TIP: To encourage influencers to continue to promote your brand, use commission-based payment instead of a one-time payment. Similar to affiliate marketing where the influencers get paid per lead.

Sharing your TikTok content on other channels

You can increase the reach of your TikTok content by posting on other marketing channels. You can post your TikTok videos to other social media platforms, your brand website, YouTube, etc. 

TikTok videos are very popular on YouTube and Twitter. In fact, half of the viral videos I see on my Twitter feed are from TikTok. 

Sharing your content on other channels would increase your brand’s visibility and reach. If you have a small marketing team with a tight budget, you can use this strategy to increase your brand’s awareness instead of spending a ton of money on paid ads. 

Promoting your brand’s TikTok Channel

If your brand’s demographic is active on TikTok, you should consider creating a TikTok channel. This would help you connect with your target audience and foster a relationship with them. 

The key is to deliver value and entertainment via your TikTok channel. You can then promote your TikTok channel using paid ads or influencer marketing. Remember that TikTok users come to the app to get entertained and have fun. If you are showing ads that only promote your product or service, you will get little engagement. 

The more interesting your videos are, the more engagement you will receive. Users have a short attention span. You have to create videos that trigger curiosity or they’ll move on to the next video in the feed. 

Creating a TikTok challenge

Challenges are the most popular video format on the platform. Viral challenges on the app usually receive millions of interactions. Running a challenge campaign is one of the best ways to market your brand on TikTok.

Here are some examples of brands using TikTok challenges to increase their brand awareness. 



When OPPO launched its new F11 Pro device In 2019, they created a hashtag challenge titled #LightUpF11Pro to create mass awareness for the device in Malaysia. Participants of the hashtag challenge had to create a dance video while illustrating a “taking a photo” gesture with their hands. Winners of the challenge were gifted a new F11 Pro device and cash prizes. 

The result of the challenge was over 7,000 user-generated videos, 6 million video views, and 326,000 likes during the 6-day campaign period. 



Rexona started the #RexonaChallenge to create awareness for their new summer line of products targeted at teens. They first launched the challenge with a top influencer, Kate. She created pop music for the challenge and shared a video of her dancing to the music in her own unique way. 

Rexona then offered prizes to participants who shared their own unique interpretation of the music video. The result of the challenge was approximately 93 million views during the 6-day campaign period. Rexona also gained 14,000 followers on their TikTok account. 

TikTok’s paid advertising program

We have already detailed how TikTok’s paid advertising program works. Earlier in this article, we saw the different ad formats that TikTok offers and also how to set up your TikTok Ads campaign. 


Using TikTok ads is a very effective way to bring awareness to your brand, increase leads, and generate sales for your online shop. The key is to target the right audience and upload video ads that capture the attention of users. 

This article should help you get started with creating your own ad campaign. 

Remember that even though the native paid advertising program from TikTok can be a little expensive, there are other advertising opportunities on the platform like Influencer marketing. 

the writer


Copywriter @Iconosquare

Hi! I'm Marvellous, huge fan of Iconosquare as a product, and determined to help experienced social media marketers thrive in the various aspects of their career.


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