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Advertising on TikTok: An 8-Step Guide to Using TikTok Ads

TikTok is the Chinese social media app that has taken the world by storm. With over 1 billion monthly active users, TikTok is on track to become a popular platform for brand advertising. A major reason why TikTok is a good platform for advertisers is that it allows users to upload native videos that are anywhere from 15 seconds to one-minute long. This means that brands can implement their ads into user-generated content posts on TikTok, which is a strategy that has been proven to work.

If you’re still new to the whole app and looking for some more information on how TikTok works and what it is, then just keep on reading.

Why use TikTok ads?

TikTok offers a few advantages for advertisers, but one of the biggest is that they have a huge user base. Adding to that, TikTok allows users to upload videos up to one minute long, which is a big advantage for advertisers. A user’s video only starts playing 30 seconds in and if they close the app or choose to watch a different video before finishing the ad, they will still see the entire ad.

Another reason why TikTok is a good platform for advertising is that it has a much clearer demographic. Users on TikTok are typically between 13 and 24 years old, which means that advertisers can narrow down their audience. There is a wide variety of ads on TikTok, which means that there are different ad formats for brands to choose from.

The last reason why TikTok is a good platform for advertising is that ads can be integrated seamlessly into content. Since it’s an app where users are typically uploading their own content, where they can upload videos of themselves lip-syncing to popular songs or doing fun challenges. This means that ads can be seamlessly integrated into these types of videos, which means more impactful ads.

So it’s pretty clear why TikTok would be a good platform for advertising. Now let’s take a look at the eight steps you need to follow in order to use TikTok ads successfully:

Step 1: Define the goal of your ad

Before you start creating an ad for TikTok, it’s important to define what you want to get out of it. Do you want increased awareness of your brand? More website clicks? More app downloads? These are all questions that you should have answered before you start. It’s important to know exactly what you want to get out of your ad and how you will measure those results.

Step 2: Define your buyer personas

TikTok offers a lot of targeting options for advertisers, which means that you can define your target audience very specifically. This allows you to make ads that are more targeted in terms of language, country, age, or even TikTok’s own in-app categories. Once you have a clearer idea of who your audience is, then you can start creating better ads that speak directly to them. It’s also important to define how you will measure success for each of your personas.

Step 3: Create your ad

This seems like it should go without saying, but the first thing you need to do is create your ad. TikTok allows advertisers to upload 15-second videos, but we would recommend creating a 30-second ad since it has more time to catch the user’s attention. Video ads are much more effective in terms of brand awareness, so if you have the budget for it then it’s definitely worth your time. It’s also vital to have a clear call-to-action in your ad, whether it’s asking the user to swipe up or click on a link.

Creative is the most important part of your TikTok ad. Make sure that it is unique and entertaining, so you can catch the user’s attention and keep them watching until the end. You want to make sure that you stand out and that your ad is memorable, so people will be more likely to remember it and talk about it with their friends.

Step 4: Targeting & placement

Once you have an idea of who your audience is and what message you want to send them, it’s time to decide how you’re going to reach them. You can target your audience based on location, interests, gender, or even the user groups that TikTok has created. For example, you can target a video to a group of people based on their in-app activity like the number of likes they give. Once you have a clear idea of who your audience is, then it’s time to find out where you’re going to place your ad.

TikTok allows advertisers to put ads both in the discover feed and on videos that are trending. Placing your ad either at the start of a video or at the end is a good option, but if you want to choose your own placement then TikTok’s in-feed ads format is the way to go. These ads will show up in between videos and can be targeted to specific user groups based on their activity.

Step 5: Creative

Now that you’re clear on your buyer personas and where to place your ad, it’s time to make your creative. An ad creative is one the most important parts of your TikTok ad. Make sure that it is unique and entertaining, so you can catch the user’s attention and keep them watching until the end. You want to make sure that you stand out and that your ad is memorable, so people will be more likely to remember it and talk about it with their friends.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to make the most entertaining TikTok video on the planet, but you do need to make sure that it’s engaging enough to get the user to click on your ad. You can use stickers or GIFs to spice up your ad, but make sure that you have a clear call-to-action button or link at the end of each video.

There are 5 TikTok ad formats that you can choose from:

  1. Brand Takeover -an ad is displayed on the app launch screen. Brand takeover ads appear before you start your daily scroll on the “For You” page. These ads are displayed in the form of a 3-second static image or a 3-5 second video with no audio.
  2. TopView ads – TopView ads work just like the Brand Takeover ads. The only difference is that they are 60-seconds long giving the users more time to engage with your ad.
  3. In-feed ads – in-feed ads show up on the “For You” page, which means that these ads are displayed for all users regardless of whether or not they follow you. They can be up to 60-seconds long and blend in with the user’s regular feed.
  4. Branded Hashtag Challenge – this format allows you to create a branded hashtag and challenge your fans to create their own TikTok videos with the hashtag. This is a good strategy if you want to encourage social engagement.
  5. Branded Effect – Much like Instagram filters,  the branded effect allows you to add filters, stickers, and other effects on top of your videos. This gives you a chance to add some more creativity to your videos.

Step 6: Optimize, optimize, optimize

One of the most important things that you should always keep in mind when running ads is to constantly A/B test your ads. This means that you should always be changing the creative of each ad so that you can compare which one works best. Make A/B tests for different types of ads on different days of the week to see which works best, and make sure your CTA always remains the same. It’s also a good idea to always try out new ad placements so that you can find the perfect fit for your target audience.

Step 7: Measure your results

As you’re running each of your ads, make sure that you’re measuring their performance every step of the way. You can use TikTok’s built-in analytics to see how many people watched your ad, where they came from, and how long they watched your video. If you want to go even further, you can measure conversions like click-throughs and website visits as well.

Step 8: Rinse and repeat

Last but not least, the only way to ensure that your ads work is by constantly testing new ads. You can learn a lot about the types of ads that work well for you by using TikTok’s analytics, and this will allow you to become an expert in creating ads that convert. With a bit of hard work and patience, you should have no problem creating a successful video ad strategy to see results in your brand’s awareness and sales.


TikTok has become an incredibly popular social media app for millennials, and if your target audience falls under this category, you should definitely consider running ads on TikTok. To get the most out of your campaigns, make sure that you’re focusing on creating engaging creative and using the right targeting. And, as always, remember to A/B test your ads so that you can find out which ones work best for you.

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