TikTok surpassed 1 billion users in September, and TikTok ads now reaches an estimated adult (18+) audience of 825 million people worldwide.
2021 TikTok advertising stats
Advertising on TikTok is a natural fit when your audience are younger adults, especially women. Almost half (43%) of TikTok users are aged 18 to 24. Women in that age category make up nearly a quarter (24.7%) of TikTok’s advertising audience.
TikTok’s largest audience is in the United States at 120,768,500 people. The most interesting part of the report is the percentage of the adult population TikTok ads can reach in countries outside of North America, especially the Middle East and Asia.
So, who should invest in advertising on TikTok? TikTok ads will most likely have the best results for:
Brands that market to customers who are 35 and under
Brands who target women, especially those aged 18 to 25
Brands with (or hoping to build) a strong presence in Asia or the Middle East
Types of TikTok ads
Here are all the kinds of ads you can run on TikTok’s ad platform and its family of apps. Not all ad types are available in all areas.
Some self-service ads you can create yourself through the TikTok Ad Manager interface also exist.
This ad which only runs in TikTok’s News Feed apps (BuzzVideo, TopBuzz, and Babe), includes an image, brand or app name, and ad text.
These are available for TikTok itself or for the TikTok family of news apps. They run as 5-60 second full-screen videos in the user’s For You feed. Each ad includes a video, an ad display image, brand or app name, and ad text.
Spark ads allows your brand to boost organic content from your own account or from other users. TikTok research shows Spark Ads have a 24% higher completion rate and 142% higher engagement rate than standard In-Feed ads.
Ads placed through the TikTok Audience Network.
These include up to 10 images with unique captains per ad and runs only in Tiktok’s News Feed app.
TikTok ads formats available to managed brands
Managed brands are those that work with a TikTok sales representative. (Need a TikTok sales rep? Contact them to see if your business is a fit.) They have access to additional ad formats, including:
Video ads that appear as a full-screen takeover for 5 to 60 seconds when users open the TikTok app.
TopView video ads
Branded Hashtag Challenge
A three- to six-day ad campaign format to encourage engagement, in which user-generated content appears on the hashtag challenge page.
TikTokers are lured to interact with your brand through the use of Branded stickers, filters, and special effects.
TikTok ad with branded stickers
How to set up a TikTok ad campaign.
Head over to TikTok Ads Manager if you would like to set up a Tiktok ad campaign. If you haven’t created a TikTok Ads Manager account, you’ll need to do that first.
Note: If you’re just looking to boost existing content, you don’t need an Ads Manager account. Instead, you can use TikTok Promote. Skip to the end of this section for more details.
1. Choose your objective
To get started, log into TikTok Ads Manager and click the Campaign button. TikTok has seven ad objectives broken down into three categories:
Reach: Show your ad to the maximum number of people (in beta).
Traffic: Drive traffic to a specific URL.
App Installs: Drive traffic to download your app.
Video Views: Maximize video ad plays (in beta).
Lead Generation: Use a pre-populated Instant Form to collect leads.
Conversions: Drive specific actions on your site, like a purchase or subscription.
Catalog Sales: Dynamic ads based on your product catalog (in beta, and only available to those with a managed ad account in supported regions).
TikTok Ads Manager Campaign button
2. Name your campaign and set a budget
You should give your campaign a name your team would easily recognize. It can have as much as 512 characters.
You can choose to set ‘No Limit’ on your campaign budget if you have bottomless pockets or would prefer to set the budget limits for specific ad groups rather than the whole campaign. Otherwise, choose whether you want to set a Daily or Lifetime budget for your campaign.
choose Campaign name and budget optimization
Campaign budget optimization is also available for the App Installs and Conversions objectives using the Lowest Cost bidding strategy.
For optimized Cost Per Click objectives, TikTok is beta testing a feature to provide a suggested bid.
3. Name your ad group and select placements
Each campaign includes from one to 999 ad groups. Each ad group name can be up to 512 characters.
You can choose different placements for each ad group. Not all placements are available in all locations:
TikTok placement: In-feed ads in the For You feed.
News Feed App placement: Ads within TikTok’s other apps—BuzzVideo, TopBuzz, NewsRepublic, and Babe.
Pangle placement: The TikTok audience network.
Automatic placement allows TikTok to automatically optimize ad delivery.
select targeting placement based on ad type
4. Choose whether to use Automated Creative Optimization
Until you get to the stage of creating individual ads, you shouldn’t upload your creative. But for now, you can decide whether to let TikTok automatically generate combinations of your images, videos, and ad text. The ad system will then only show the best-performing ones.
TikTok recommends that new advertisers turn this setting on.
5. Target your audience
TikTok, just like most social media apps gives you the room to show your ads specifically to your target market. You can use a lookalike or custom audience, or target your ads based on:
target users based on interests and behaviour
6. Set your ad group budget and schedule
You’ve already set a budget for your overall campaign. Now it’s time to set the budget for the ad group, and to set the schedule on which it will run.
Choose a daily or lifetime budget for your ad group, then choose the start and end times. You can also choose to run your ad at specific times throughout the day (based on your account time zone) under Dayparting.
7. Set your bidding strategy and optimization
First, choose your optimization goal: conversion, clicks, or reach. This goal may be determined automatically by your campaign objective.
Next, choose your bidding strategy.
Bid Cap: Maximum amount per click (CPC), per view (CPV), or per 1,000 impressions (CPM).
Cost Cap: An average cost per result for optimized CPM. The cost will fluctuate above and below the bid amount but should average out to the set bid.
Lowest Cost: The ad system uses the ad group budget to generate the maximum number of results possible at the lowest cost per result.
bidding and optimization
Finally, choose your delivery type: standard or accelerated. Standard divides your budget evenly over the scheduled dates of the campaign, accelerated delivery on the other hand spends your budget as fast as possible.
graph of standard vs accelerated delivery
Source: Standard vs. Accelerated Delivery budget allocation on TikTok
8. Create your ad(s)
Each ad group can have up to 20 ads. Each ad name can be up to 512 characters, and is for internal use only (it does not appear on the ad itself).
First, choose your ad format: image, video, or Spark ad. If you’re sticking to TikTok itself (rather than the family of TikTok apps), you can only use video or Spark ads.
Add your photos or video, or create a video within Ads Manager using the video template or video creation tools. Note that TikTok research shows using the TikTok video editor can decrease cost per action by up to 46%.
You can either choose one of the default thumbnails, or upload your own. Then, you enter your text and link. Check out the preview of your ad on the right of the screen, add any relevant tracking links, and click Submit.
create ad by choosing format
Your ad will go through a review process before going live.
Note: To use Spark Ads, you’ll need to contact the creators of the content you want to use so they can provide an access code. You can get the full and detailed content on Spark ads from Tiktok.
If you’d prefer to work with a TikTok creator on a custom campaign, run a check on the TikTok Creator’s Marketplace.
Or, boost existing content with TikTok Promote
TikTok Promote allows anyone aged 18 or above promote existing content. It’s the TikTok version of Facebook Boost.
Here’s how to boost a TikTok:
From your TikTok profile, tap the three line icon for settings, then tap Creator tools.
Tap the video you want to promote.
Choose your advertising goal: More video views, more website visits, or more followers.
Choose your audience, budget, and duration, and tap Next.
Enter your payment info and tap Start Promotion. And voila! It is done.
TikTok ad specs
In this section, we’ll focus on ads that run on TikTok itself, rather than the family of TikTok news apps.
TikTok video ad specs
Aspect ratio: 9:16, 1:1, or 16:9. Vertical videos with a 9:16 ratio perform best.
Minimum resolution: 540 x 960 px or 640 x 640 px. Videos with a resolution of 720 px perform best.
File types: mp4, .mov, .mpeg, .3gp, or .avi
Duration: 5-60 seconds. TikTok recommends 21-34 seconds for top performance.
Max file size: 500 MB
Profile image: square image less than 50 KB
App name or brand name: 4-40 characters (app) or 2-20 characters (brand)
Ad description: 1-100 characters, no emojis
Spark ad specs
Aspect ratio: Any
Minimum resolution: Any
Max file size: Any
Account mentions and emojis allowed
Display name and text come from the original organic post
Note: Character counts are based on Latin characters. For Asian characters, generally the allowed character count is half.
How much do TikTok ads cost?
TikTok ads are based on a bidding model. You can control costs through daily and lifetime budgets for campaigns and ad groups. The minimum budgets are:
Daily budget: $50USD
Lifetime budget: $50USD
Ad group level
Daily budget: $20USD
Lifetime budget: this is calculated as daily budget multiplied by the number of days scheduled
Although TikTok is tight-lipped about specific ad costs, they do reveal the following tips and insights:
If using a Bid Cap or Cost Cap bidding strategy, set your initial campaign level budget at No Limit and the daily ad group budget to at least 20x your target cost per action (CPA).
For App Event Optimization, set an initial budget of at least $100 or 20x your target (CPA), whichever is higher.
For Conversions campaigns using the Lowest Cost bid strategy, set an initial budget of at least $100 or 20x your target (CPA), whichever is higher.
TikTok ads cost examples
TikTok also reveals the costs for some specific campaigns, which may help you benchmark your own spending:
Skincare brand Synth Labs Intl. ran a Spark Ads campaign to drive 300,000 impressions at $0.32 CPC.
Synth Labs Intl. Spark ads campaign
Online jewelry store Lion Wild used video ads to drive a 19.35% conversion rate at $0.13 CPC and $0.17 CPM.
Lion Wild video ads
Online gaming marketplace G2A used video ads to achieve 12 million impressions at $0.16 CPM and $0.06 CPC.
G2A online gaming Marketplace video ads
Mobile games publisher Playa Games used video ads to achieve a 130% return on ad spend with a €0.06 CPC.
Playa Games TikTok video ad
BVOD streaming service TVNZ OnDemand had an 0.5% click-through rate at NZ$0.42 CPC.
Beauty brand Mallows Beauty saw a 2.86% click-through rate at £0.04 CPC.
Maker marketplace Strike Gently Co. used TikTok Promote to drive a 1.9% click-through rate at $0.27 CPC.
Strike Gently Co. TikTok Promote
Hyundai Australia used video ads to drive an 0.88% click-through rate at less than $0.30 CPC.
Hyundai Australia video ad
If applicable in your region, Tiktok ad costs are subject to your sales tax. In the U.S., only advertisers based in Hawaii pay sales tax (4.71%). UK advertisers pay VAT of 20%. This amount is applied to your total ad spend, so be prepared for your bill to include tax.
TikTok advertising best practices
Mix and match your creative styles
Rather than using one type of creative, or very similar creatives, switch up your style. TikTok suggests that you update your creative every seven days to avoid audience fatigue.
Switch it up within each video, too. With B-roll or transition footage, you can follow Tiktok’s recommendation of varied scenes.
Get to the point
Although video ads can be up to 60 seconds long, TikTok recommends keeping them to 21-34 seconds. People want information quickly.
Make the first 3 to 10 seconds especially very captivating and engaging to avoid losing viewers. Going by earlier publishings, we have come to see that the best-performing TikTok ads highlight their key message or product within the first 3 seconds.
Use sound plus captions
93% of top-performing TikTok videos use audio, and 73% of TikTok users said they would stop and look at ads with audio. In particular, fast tracks above 120 beats per minute usually have the highest view-through rate.
But captions and text are also important. In particular, use text to highlight your call to action. TikTok found 40% of auction ads with the highest view-through rate include text overlays.
Stay positive and authentic
This is not the place to test out your dark and moody content or use a heavy-handed sales pitch. TikTok recommends that videos stay “positive, authentic and inspiring.” You also don’t want a video that looks too “produced.”