Social Media & Social Ads

How to Advertise on TikTok: Step by Step Guide

By Laia Cardona, on 21 February 2022

As TikTok is gaining more momentum outside of Gen Z circles, advertisers are beginning to build up their TikTok advertising strategies.

Considering that the app was the first non-Meta app to hit 3 billion downloads as of July 2021 and has about 50 million daily active users in the U.S., it is easy to understand why this social media platform is important. 

The app has launched a number of advertising formats to help brands reach their audiences. To help you make the most of it, let's review the step-by-step process for how to advertise on TikTok. 

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Advertising on TikTok

Advertising on TikTok is a great opportunity for brands. Its active user numbers already outpace Twitter and Snapchat and it's less saturated with ads than other social networks.

In early 2019, TikTok released a beta version of its advertising platform. Since then, big brands like Nike and Apple Music have used TikTok advertising to promote their products with unique and entertaining ads.


How to Advertise on TikTok Step by Step Guide


Advertising on TikTok offers unique formats and targeting options that, when used effectively, help you access one of the most lucrative and hard-to-reach user groups: Gen Z. However, advertising on TikTok isn’t suitable for all companies. 


How Much Does it Cost to Advertise on TikTok?

TikTok is a good advertising solution for big brands like Nike, Disney, or Grubhub, but it may not be profitable for small businesses.

Although TikTok doesn't publish its ad prices, a leaked TikTok pitch deck revealed that large campaigns can range anywhere from $25,000 to $150,000 depending on the type of campaign you choose. 

For self-service ads, TikTok requires a minimum budget of $500 for overall campaigns, with a $20 minimum for ad groups. This minimum allows you to see results and ensure that your ads can reach your objectives.

Unfortunately, if you're looking for solutions with low costs and predictable results, TikTok probably isn't your best bet at this moment.



TikTok Advertising Target Audiences

If your brand’s main target audience is Gen Z, advertising on TikTok could be a good investment. 66% of TikTok users are under the age of 30, and 41% are between 16 and 24. 

It’s important to remember that many social networks first become popular with younger users and then expand to other audiences. Even if advertising on TikTok isn't right for you right now, it's a good idea to learn about the process so you can be prepared.


TikTok Statistics

A report by Business of Apps confirms the current market domination through the number of downloads. TikTok comes out ahead of more established apps like Instagram and Facebook.


How to Advertise on TikTok: Step by Step Guide


According to Statista, engagement levels on the app are also high. This is important to consider when deciding whether or not to include TikTok in your social media marketing strategy. Ultimately, it all depends on your goals but be aware of the engagement rate in addition to the overall downloads and popularity.


TikTok Advertising Formats

TikTok offers 2 main forms of advertising on the app. Let’s take a look at which one would be best for your brand.


Auction Ads

Auction ads on TikTok allow you to bid on ad slots within this social network. These are the only self-service style ads currently available. At the moment, bidding is done manually unlike the programmatic advertising option on Google Ads.

Biddable ads allow you to bid to place video ads in the app's main feed. There are three different pricing models:

  • CPC (cost per click)
  • CPM (cost per mille)
  • CPV (cost per view)

You can target your ads by age, gender, and location. You can also create custom audiences and blacklists.


Formats That Require a TikTok Account Manager

TikTok also offers campaigns that go beyond just normal video ads. To use this format, you will need to have a larger budget and work with a TikTok account manager. The campaign options are the following:

  • Brand Takeover. A large-format ad that appears when users open the app. It is limited to one advertiser per day.


How to Advertise on TikTok Step by Step Guide


  • Hashtag Challenge. The goal of this type of campaign is to create viral user-generated content by uploading a video with a unique dance or challenge and encouraging users to participate. This is an interesting format because, depending on the challenge itself, the advertisement can be as subtle or as straightforward as you design it to be. 



  • Branded Lenses. This ad format allows brands to create custom augmented reality filters for users to incorporate into their content, similar to Snapchat and Instagram.


How to Advertise on TikTok Step by Step Guide


  • Influencer Package. You will be set up with a TikTok influencer relevant to your brand who will then create sponsored content. TikTok has its own platform for partnering with its creators. 



How to Advertise on TikTok Step by Step

1. Create a TikTok Ads Account

Because TikTok’s advertising program is still fairly new, the process isn’t as autonomous as on Instagram or Facebook. Visit the TikTok Ads homepage and click the "Get Started" button.


How to Advertise on TikTok Step by Step Guide


When you click the button, a form will appear asking you for information to set up your account. Fill it out, submit it, and a TikTok representative will contact you to let know if your business qualifies.


How to Advertise on TikTok Step by Step Guide


2. Create an Ad Campaign

Once you're inside the TikTok Ads dashboard, you'll need to click on the "Campaign" tab and then on the "Create" button. 

TikTok organizes its advertising on three levels: Campaigns, Ad Groups, and Ads. A campaign is an overall activity, while ad groups and ads are the functions within a campaign. 


How to Advertise on TikTok Step by Step Guide


Choose a goal for your ad. Currently, TikTok advertising offers three main objectives: traffic, conversions, and application installations.


How to Advertise on TikTok Step by Step Guide


Now you'll have to choose the budget for the entire campaign. You can choose between the "Daily Budget" or "Total Budget" options.


3. Set Up the Ad Group

The next step is to create an ad group within the campaign. This step is when placements and targeting are decided. Within a campaign, you can have different ad groups intended for different audiences.

Advertising on TikTok gives you access to advertising on the entire family of related applications, which includes Vigo Video (India only), BuzzVideo (Japan), TopBuzz (US and BR), Babe (Indonesia), and News Republic (worldwide). You can choose to limit your ads to TikTok or to the entire network. 


How to Advertise on TikTok: Step by Step Guide


TikTok will calculate where it can get the best results with your ad and place it there.

Once you've chosen your preferred placements, follow the instructions to enter all the assets needed to start running your ad, including URLs, display names, images, categories, etc.

A very interesting aspect of this step is the keyword section, which allows you to select up to 20 terms to describe your website or application. These keywords will be used to show your products to the right audience, so think carefully about your choices.

Finally, the "Targeting" section allows you to define the target audience for your ads. You can set parameters such as location, age, gender, languages, devices, and more.


How to Advertise on TikTok Step by Step Guide


If you want to launch your ad to a particular group of people, for example, to run a remarketing campaign, you can create a custom audience through existing TikTok user IDs. Simply upload the list of IDs to a CSV, TXT, or ZIP file. You will also need a TikTok pixel in order to run remarketing campaigns and track campaign effectiveness. 


4. Set the Campaign Details

In the "Budget & Schedule" section, select the ad group budget. Once again, you can select how much you're willing to spend per day or the total amount you want to spend for the duration of the campaign.

Then select the dates you want the campaign to be active. The "Dayparting" option allows you to choose specific times of day or days of the week to show your ads.

You can also choose the pace at which you want the budget to be spent. The options include "standard," which distributes the budget evenly throughout the campaign, and "accelerate," which utilizes it as quickly as possible during a fixed period of time.

You can then select the ad group optimization goal.

  • Conversion: Your ad will be shown to people most likely to make a conversion action for your product or service. To track actions that involve a conversion (for example, downloading an app or filling out a form), you can create conversion events and track them using a pixel. The payment model for conversion goals is CPC (optimized cost-per-click), which ensures that ads are shown to users who are most likely to take a particular action.
  • Click: Your ad will be optimized to attract as many clicks as possible and will be charged based on a cost-per-click (CPC) payment model.
  • Impressions: Your ad will be optimized to show as many times as possible and will be charged based on a cost-per-thousand (CPM) impression payment model.

Finally, you can turn the "Smart Optimization" option on or off. If enabled, your bids will be constantly optimized to increase conversions. We recommend turning off this option if your goals are clicks or impressions.


5. Design Your Ad

TikTok ads consist of images and videos in horizontal, vertical, and square formats. To make it easier for advertisers, this network offers a tool called Video Creation Kit, which includes video templates and images that you can customize with your own images. In addition, it also has more than 300 free background music options.


How to Advertise on TikTok Step by Step Guide


Another useful tool is Automated Creative Optimization, which allows you to upload up to 10 images, 5 videos, 5 ad texts, and one call to action. The system will then combine them with each other to create multiple ads. Then, the tool will test these ads and use the most effective combinations.

Finally, you can also use the Landing Page to Video tool, which captures high-quality images from any landing page URL you give it, and then automatically combines these images with music to create video ads.


5 TikTok Advertising Best Practices

You're finally ready to start your TikTok advertising! Here are some final tips for optimizing your ads and making them even more effective.

  1. Take a look at TikTok’s own inspiration section within their website to see how other brands have managed to find success on the platform

  2. When launching an ad in the  Brand Takeover format, it's especially important to use high-resolution images. Be sure to follow TikTok’s ad specifications.

  3. Note that text space is limited to 80 characters. But, because you only have a split second to grab your audience’s attention, we recommend including the most important text in the actual video.

  4. Focus on only one call to action at a time, such as downloading your app or using a coupon on your website, but not both at the same time.

  5. And as always, don't forget to test different creative elements and targeting to improve your advertising on TikTok more and more. A/B testing is the best way to see whether or not your different tactics and assets are working.

We hope this guide helps you dive into the world of TikTok advertising! As this is still such a new format, we can expect to see the trends, processes, and best practices evolve over time. 

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Laia Cardona

Responsable de la estrategia de inbound marketing en Cyberclick. Gestión del CRM con Hubspot, de la base de datos y creación de la estrategia global de contenidos, workflows y lead nurturing. Experiencia en marketing digital, comunicación digital y periodismo en medios de comunicación. ______________________________________________________________________ Responsible for the inbound marketing strategy at Cyberclick. Experience in digital marketing, digital communication, media journalism, CRM management with Hubspot, creation of global content strategy, workflows and lead nurturing.