You may know TikTok as the trendiest, youngest social media platform. Many businesses overlook its potential as an advertising platform. Its young, international audience, features designed to help new advertisers to succeed, and targeting algorithm make TikTok for business a contender in the social media marketing landscape. 

Why TikTok Advertising?

Not everyone can include every social media platform in their digital marketing strategy. Here are a few of TikTok’s strengths to help you decide if they’re a useful ad platform for your business. 

Reach Gen Z

When most people think of who uses TikTok, they think of younger people. It’s for a good reason. 43% of TikTok’s user base is 18-24 years old. If your target audience is under 25, TikTok is the place to reach them. 

The Steve Buscemi "How do you do, fellow kids?" meme

Raise Your Engagement Rates

TikTok users engage with content more than other social media users do. Young adults spend an average of 80 minutes per day on TikTok compared to 58.5 minutes per day on Facebook. More engagement means more eyes on your content. 

Expand the Reach of Your Video Content

Video marketing isn’t showing signs of slowing down any time soon. Viewers retain 95% of a message when it’s communicated by video. Video ads are effective because they stop people from scrolling to watch them.  TikTok videos are easy to watch and easy to share on other platforms. Video content posted on TikTok goes further than it does on other platforms. 

Reach an International Audience

Most people know that TikTok originated in China. Though the US has the largest number of active users, the platform is very popular in East Asia and the Middle East. 

Types of TikTok Ads

TikTok has a variety of different ad format options. Unlike other social media platforms, though, most of them involve short form videos. 

In-feed Ads

In-feed ads are self-service ads you can create through the TikTok Ads Manager. 

Screen Shot 2022-02-17 at 1.31.18 PM

Image Ads

Image ads include an image, brand name and ad test. They only run in TikTok’s news feed apps like BuzzVideo, TopBuzz, and Babe. 

Video Ads

Video ads are 5-60 second full-screen videos that run in users’ For You pages. They include a video, brand name, and ad text. 

Screen Shot 2022-02-17 at 1.38.00 PM

Spark Ads

Spark ads allow you to boost organic content from your account or from other users. Think of them as the equivalent of pinned tweets. 

Pangle Ads

Pangle ads are placed through the TikTok Audience Network. 

Carousel Ads

Carousel Ads include up to 10 images with their own captions per ad. They only run in TikTok’s news feed apps. 

Screen Shot 2022-02-17 at 1.37.29 PM

TikTok Ad Formats Available to Managed Brands

Managed brands have more ad format options than regular TikTok users. 

TopView Ads

TopView Ads are video ads that appear as a full-screen brand takeover when users first open the TikTok app. 

Screen Shot 2022-02-17 at 1.38.53 PM

Branded Hashtag Challenge

A branded hashtag challenge is an ad campaign format to encourage and harness user-generated content. Each challenge lasts three to six days. 

Screen Shot 2022-02-17 at 1.34.05 PM

Branded Effects

Effects like stickers, filters, and special effects to encourage users to interact with your brand. 

Screen Shot 2022-02-17 at 1.39.19 PM

How to Set Up a TikTok Ad Campaign

1. Choose Your Campaign Objective

The first step to creating Tik Tok ad campaigns is to choose an objective. These objectives correspond to the stages of the conversion funnel: 

Brand Awareness

Reach: show your ad to as many users as possible. 


Traffic: drive website traffic. 

App Installs: drive users to install your app. 

Video Views: get as many video ad plays as possible. 

Lead Generation: use an instant form to collect leads. 


Conversions: drive purchases, subscriptions, or other actions on your site. 

Catalog Sales: dynamic ads based on your product catalog.

 Screen Shot 2022-02-17 at 1.10.32 PM

2. Name Your Campaign and Set a Budget

Every TikTok ad campaign needs a name for internal purposes. The name of your campaign can be up to 512 characters long. 


You can set daily or lifetime budget limits for your ad campaign. If you’re unsure how much the limit should be, campaign budget optimization is an option for app install and conversion objectives. TikTok is also currently beta testing a suggested bid feature for Cost Per Click objectives. 

Screen Shot 2022-02-17 at 1.11.35 PM

3. Name Your Ad Group and Select Ad Placements

Each TikTok ad campaign can include 1 to 999 ad groups. Each ad group has a name. Like campaign names, each ad group name can be up to 512 characters long. 

Each TikTok ad group can also have a different placement. Keep in mind that not all placements are available in all locations. 

  • TikTok ad placement: ads in the For You page. 
  • News Feed App placement: ads within TikTok’s news feed apps which are BuzzVideo, TopBuzz, NewsRepublic, and Babe.
  • Pangle ad placement: the TikTok audience network.
  • Automatic placement: lets TikTok automatically optimize ad delivery.

Screen Shot 2022-02-17 at 1.11.17 PM

4. Choose Whether to use Automated Creative Optimization

Before you upload your creative when you create individual ads, you can decide whether or not to turn on this feature. Automated Creative Optimization automatically generates combinations of the images, videos, and ad text you upload and then only shows the best-performing combinations. TikTok recommends the feature for new advertisers. 

5. Target Your Audience

TikTok, like most social media ads, allows you to show ads to your target audience specifically. You can choose a lookalike audience or create a custom audience based on demographics and categories including: 

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location
  • Language
  • Interests
  • Behaviors
  • Device details

Screen Shot 2022-02-17 at 1.11.03 PM


6. Set Your Ad Group Budget and Schedule

After you’ve set a budget for your overall ad campaign, it’s time to break that budget down into each ad group and set the schedule. With a feature called Dayparting you can choose to run your ad at specific times throughout the day based on your time zone. 

7. Set Your Bidding Strategy and Optimization

These are the bidding strategy options. The best one for your campaign will depend on your campaign objective and optimization goal. 

  • Bid Cap: maximum amount per click (CPC), per view (CPV), or per 1,000 impressions (CPM)
  • Cost Cap: an average cost per result per optimized CPM. The cost will fluctuate but should average out to the set bid. 
  • Lowest Cost: uses the ad group budget to generate the most results possible at the lowest cost per result. 

Then, choose your delivery type. Standard delivery divides your budget evenly over the campaign duration. Accelerated delivery spends your budget as fast as possible.

8. Create Your Ad(s)

Each ad group can include up to 20 ads. Here are the steps for creating one. 

  1. Choose your ad format: 
    • Image
    • Video
    • Spark Ad
  2. Add your photos or video. Using the TikTok video editor can decrease your cost per action by up to 46%
  3. Choose a thumbnail, enter your text and link, preview your ad, and click Submit. 

Your ad will go through a review process before going live. 

Or, boost existing content with TikTok Promote:

  1. From your TikTok profile, tap the three line icon for settings, then tap Creator tools.
  2. Tap Promote.
  3. Tap the video you want to promote.
  4. Choose your advertising goal: More video views, more website visits, or more followers.
  5. Choose your audience, budget, and duration, and tap Next.
  6. Enter your payment info and tap Start Promotion.

Screen Shot 2022-02-17 at 1.12.01 PM

TikTok Ad Specs

Here are the specs by ad type. 

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
  • Duration: Any
  • Max file size: Any
  • Account mentions and emojis allowed
  • Display name and text come from the original organic post

Install the TikTok Pixel

Installing the TikTok pixel on your website allows you to easily target your website visitors for advertising on TikTok based on their on-site activity. Facebook and Instagram use a similar pixel for their advertising. 

How Much Do TikTok Ads Cost?

Minimum Budgets

TikTok ad costs are based on a bidding model. You can set daily and lifetime budgets for ad campaigns and ad groups. Here are the minimum budgets: 

Campaign Level

Daily Budget: $50 USD

Lifetime Budget: $50 USD

Ad Group Level

Daily Budget: $20 USD

Lifetime Budget: Daily budget multiplied by the number of days the ad group is scheduled. 

TikTok Advertising Best Practices

Switch Up Your Creative

Your ads shouldn’t all look alike. TikTok suggests updating your creative every seven days. 

Get to the Point

TikTok videos are short. They can be up to 60 seconds long, but the best performing ones are 21-34 seconds long and highlight the key message or product within the first three seconds. 

A dart hitting the bullseye

Use Sound and Captions

93% of top-performing TikTok videos use audio. TikTok makes it easy to add closed captions to your videos. Captions are important because they make your content accessible to hard of hearing viewers. They’re also an effective way to highlight your CTA.  

Keep it Positive and Authentic

If your approach to success on TikTok focuses too much on trying to be “cool,” that could easily backfire. In the same vein, no one likes a negative, complaining social media presence. Keep your content upbeat and on-brand, even if it isn’t perfect. 

Three people looking at a phone with excited expressions

Work With Influencers 

Influencer marketing is a powerful way to reach a captive audience. There are TikTok influencers for every niche from fashion and beauty to pet care. Collaborating with them will get more eyeballs on your videos, but don’t just hit up Addison Rae without a plan. Choose your influencer collaborators wisely. 

  • Are they relevant to your business and audience?
  • Just how much influence do they have in their niche? 
  • Where are they located? 

Use Smart Video Soundtrack

Smart Video Soundtrack is a feature that automatically pairs your video with relevant music. It doesn’t only take one choice off your plate, but using popular sounds can increase your reach since TikTok users can track sounds like hashtags. 

Use Upbeat Music

A catchy soundtrack keeps people watching your videos. Tracks above 120 beats per minute have the highest view-through rate. 

A white woman dancing with headphones on

Use Trending Hashtags and Sounds

Piggybacking on trends gets your content in front of more eyeballs. Don’t stray too far from the topics of your content, though. 


Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is a powerful driver of social media marketing. TikTok is no exception. Your ads shouldn’t just be selling a product or service, but an aspirational lifestyle that viewers feel they’re missing out on if they don’t make a purchase. 

A woman in an office staring out the window

See What Works and Optimize Accordingly 

Any strategy takes a little trial and error. Track the metrics in TikTok ad manager to see your strengths and weaknesses. Then keep doing what works and change what doesn’t.

From building a website to building a digital marketing strategy, Sav wants your business to succeed online. Start building today to find out how. 

Luca Harsh

Luca Harsh

Luca Harsh is an in-house content writer for Sav. They live in Chicago with their cat, Polly. Yes, Harsh is their real last name.