Since its launch in 2018, TikTok quickly became one of the hottest social media apps on the market.
Although the concept for this type of app wasn't entirely new (RIP Vine), what made TikTok unique was the speed at which it gained popularity.
With legions of engaged users on the platform, it was only a matter of time before marketers started taking notice. Today it is a common platform for advertising among other big platforms like Facebook. Marketers use video editing software to create engaging content and then promote it on these social media platforms to gain brand recognition and drive sales.
What are TikTok ads?
TikTok ads allow businesses to promote their services or products on the popular social media platform TikTok, using formats like in-feed ads, hashtag challenges, sponsored videos, or promoted trends.
As of 2023, TikTok has over 1.53 billion users and about 1 billion monthly active users. According to Statista, 31% of users are between the age group 24-34 years old.
If your business targets Gen Z and Millenials, TikTok is a valuable addition to your marketing strategy. The platform offers content in short, digestible, and shareable format, which makes it easily marketable to these demographics. Additionally, the algorithm is designed in a way that shows users interest-relevant content, further strengthening engagement. Read on to learn more about TikTok ads and best practices to harbor the power of social media.
Types of TikTok ads
There are several types of ads on TikTok that businesses can use to promote their services and products. Each ad type has its unique specifications, features, and advantages. Choosing the right ad that fits your organizational needs and budget is essential for achieving maximum impact.
1. In-feed ads
In-feed native ads in TikTok are the typical advertisement you would expect to see on another platform like Instagram or Twitter. They are 15-second video spots that appear organically within a user's feed and can be skipped. These ads allow for several different call-to-action (CTA) types, including app downloads, website clicks, and more.
2. Brand takeover
Brand takeovers are one of the more expensive ad-buying options. They can be still images, GIFS, and videos. These ads will link back to a brand's profile or a corresponding hashtag challenge. In order to ensure a true brand takeover, TikTok only allows one brand to monopolize this feature a day. That means while you might be spending serious cash on a brand takeover, the day truly does just belong to your brand.
3. Hashtag challenge
The hashtag challenge feature is probably the most popular with users because it gives them a purpose beyond seeing your ad. TikTok is fueled by user-generated content, and hashtag challenges create engagement by fusing user creativity with your brand messaging. You also have the option to tap influencers that can help generate buzz around your hashtag challenge.
4. Branded lenses
The branded lenses feature is similar to Snapchat branded filters. When users create videos on the platform, they can choose from a variety of filter options to enhance their content. A branded lens will appear in the trending section, and users can interact with them while filming.
Some other ad formats supported by TikTok are:
- TopView ads are full-screen video ads that appear at the top of user's feed when they open the app. These ads can be about 60 seconds long.
- Spark ads are a type of native ad that enables businesses to turn existing trending posts into ads.
- Search ads allow brands to show sponsored content in TikTok search results when a user looks for a specific keyword.
TikTok ads specs
To ensure that your ad is effective and reaches the right audience, it is essential to understand the guidelines and specifications of the platform. Below is a list of a few requirements for TikTok video ads.
Composition: Video creative, ad display image, business logo, ad description, and CTA
Aspect ratio: 9:16, 1:1, or 16:9
Resolution: More than or equal to 540 X 960px, 640 X 640px, or 960 X 540px.
File size: Not over 500 MB
File type: .mp4, .mov, .mpeg, .3gp, or .avi
Length: 5-60 seconds. Recommended by TikTok: 9-15 seconds
Check out TikTok's help center for more information on video ads, pangle video ads, and global app bundle specifications.
TikTok ads cost
TikTok offers a range of pricing, so no matter your budget, there’s likely an ad plan that can work for your business. The exact cost per ad depends on various factors like marketing goals, target keywords, size of the target audience, and level of competition for ad space in the user's feed.
The minimum budget for the campaign level is $500, and for the ad group level is around $50. TikTok ads average cost per mile (CPM) comes to $10 per 1000 views. A brand takeover, where a brand can take over the entire app for a day, will run $50,000 per day.
TikTok ads best practices
TikTok is similar to any other social media advertising. It doesn’t matter how much money you throw at the platform if your brand isn’t a good fit for the audience. That’s why before you write your check to TikTok for a $50,000 brand takeover, you’ll want to do some homework first.
1. Study the platform
You shouldn’t start running TikTok ads if you haven’t first downloaded the app and created an account. Take the time to learn how a native user interacts with the app, follow other big accounts, and do your research. Does your brand fit in with the content you’re seeing users creating? What content performs well? Ask all of these questions before you move on to the next step.
2. Create fun content
Nothing bugs users more than seeing a big brand with an empty profile trying to sell them something. The average users want to know your brand is on TikTok creating content before you try to sell them something. Spend a few months designing content and building a presence on the app to build brand awareness and reach new audiences organically. You can also invest in a social media management software to maintain an online presence.
3. Utilize trending sounds
Hashtags aren’t the only way users find popular content on the app. You can also search for trending sounds in the app and watch all the videos made with that sound. When a certain sound starts trending, be sure to create content with that audio or meme format to gain a boost in views and followers. This is a free way to capitalize on in–app trends. Make use of social media suites to analyze how the campaigns are performing and optimize accordingly.
4. Lean into video content
While TikTok does allow users to upload static photos and set them to music, the app’s user base heavily favors video. If you plan on investing your time and money into using TikTok for your brand, then you need to invest in video. While most videos can just be shot in the native platform, your team might want to consider investing in video editing software for more complicated projects.
Create your own TikTok campaign
Below is an overview of the key steps involved in creating a TikTok campaign. Check out TikTok help center for more details on setting up an ad.
- Register for a business account and get it approved.
- Set up your campaign, specifying objectives, name, and budget distribution.
- Create ad groups, choose ad placement, and fill in details.
- Customise targeting and set the target audience, budget, and schedule.
- Submit the ad and wait 24 hours for approval.
TikTok ads examples
Puma is a multinational sports brand famous for its footwear, accessories, and apparel. Puma's TikTok collaboration with singer and songwriter Dua Lipa for their new Mayze sneaker resulted in a drastic increase in purchase intent and ad recall. The impressive outcome was a result of merging celebrity influencer marketing and in-feed ads.
Netflix is a global streaming service that provides a wide range of movies, TV shows, and documentaries to its subscribers. Netflix used the branded effect and branded hashtag to promote its show Tribes of Europa, which launched in Germany.
The campaign used the hashtag #TribesChallenge and collaboration with famous German TikTokers, who used the branded effect to generate an overwhelming 1.5 billion video views.
Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) is a German multinational corporation that produces luxury vehicles. BMW partnered with famous K-pop artist Henry Lau, for the promotion of BMW eDrive, their brand-new hybrid vehicle, on TikTok. The campaign, targeted initially at a Korean audience, became an international hit and generated a whopping 45.99 million views, participation from 49 countries, and 6.29 million engagements. The ad format was a blend of in-feed and top-view ads.
Don't stop; make it pop
TikTok isn’t just a popular song by Ke$ha anymore; it’s a global phenomenon! Follow these best practices when creating your TikTok advertising strategy, and you’ll be well on your way to harnessing the power of the world's fastest-growing social app.
Interested in learning more about social media marketing? Learn how the right social media marketing plan can help you connect with a wider audience and drive revenue.
This article was originally published in 2019. The content has been updated with new information.