Let's face it, Meta Ads and Google Ads have been a duopoly when it comes to PPC for far too long! Both platforms have dominated digital marketing budgets for years and the audience’s attention is shifting to greener shores - TikTok.
TikTok was the most downloaded app in 2021 and is still the most downloaded in 2022. And when it overtook YouTube as the most popular way users search for video, brands started to take notice.
If you've spent any time scrolling TikTok you may have noticed that brands like Chipotle, Gymshark, and even the San Diego Zoo have grabbed TikTok by the horns and amassed significant followings by creating engaging short-form videos.
TikTok might not be right for every brand, but most brands will find that they have a captive audience ready and waiting to consume their content. But be prepared - unless you are willing to educate or entertain, the TikTok algorithm won't be showing your content on many For You Pages (which is like the TikTok news feed).
In this post, I share some of the top strategies I’ve learned from my extensive experience in TikTok Ads working for brands and making over $338,000 in attributable revenue on the advertising platform.
Let’s get started!
What are TikTok ads?
TikTok ads enable brands to promote their content via the TikTok Ads Manager by buying media placements. There are a range of different ad types, outlined below, which give brands the opportunity to connect with their customers beyond organic reach.
TikTok is one of the largest social media platforms with over 1 billion active users and has many different types of advertising available for brands. It’s a great platform to expand to new international audiences.
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TikTok is not only for younger audiences
The most common question I get when it comes to advertising on TikTok is - "Isn't TikTok for teenagers, and isn't it just kids following dance trends?"
Absolutely not! 75% of TikTok users are over 20 years old, and 53% of TikTok users are over 30 years old (Statista). The platform provides a unique opportunity to expand reach and engagement for all types of brands.
Types of TikTok Ads
There are four main types of TikTok Ads - Brand Takeover, In-Feed Video, the Hashtag Challenge, and Branded Lenses. Here’s a quick breakdown of each one and some of the things you can do with it.
Ready to grab attention? TopView ads are the very first piece of content a user will see when they open the TikTok app. These ads are 67% more effective than all other ad formats on the platform. TopView ads are incredibly effective for brand awareness and conversion campaigns.
TikTok In-feed ads show up on a user’s For You Page ('FYP' if you want to be down with the TikTok lingo). This is the most common placement for ads within the TikTok ecosystem and these ads integrate into the native news feed. Ideally, in-feed video ads should feel like a continuation of the TikTok experience by being in the 'TikTok style' and by being engaging and authentic.
Branded Hashtag Challenge
Branded Hashtag Challenges are amazing for creating brand awareness and conversion actions. Brands can create a campaign, develop a unique hashtag, and then offer prizes to encourage the TikTok community to create user-generated content (UGC) using the unique branded hashtag.
Branded Hashtag Challenges are where TikTok absolutely excels over every other advertising platform when it comes to customers interacting, sharing, and promoting brands authentically through their own content creation.
Hashtags work on TikTok in the same way they do on Instagram in that they allow users to find similar content. If you are a Crocs lover, check out the #ThousandDollarCrocs challenge. But, you've been warned, you might end up down a rabbit hole of TikTok Crocs user-generated content.
Another unique advertising option on TikTok is Branded Effects. Brands can customize stickers, filters, and special effects to create engaging experiences that enable users to interact with your brand.
Spark ads were introduced in July 2021, and have been an advertiser's dream! Spark ads are a native ad format that gives advertisers an easy way to use organic TikTok content as an ad.
They provide a really easy way to get your organic content into the TikTok Ads Manager. In some ways, it feels very similar to how you might boost a Facebook post but with additional targeting options through the ads manager interface.
Pangle ads are ads set up through the TikTok ads manager platform that run on 3rd party apps. Pangle ads are able to be delivered in a variety of formats including reward video ads, native ads, banner ads, and more. Currently, Pangle ads are offered to a limited number or regions.
These ads are full-screen videos that appear in a user’s “For You” feed. They are usually 5 to 60 seconds in length.
Now that you know the types of ads you can create, let’s walk through actually making one from start to finish.
TikTok Ads Structure
If you have used the Meta Ads manager in the past you will be familiar with the overarching campaign setup inside TikTok. TikTok Ads Manager is structured into 3 parts:
1. Campaigns - this is where you select your objectives and budget.
2. Ad Groups - you will identify your placements, audiences, budgets, optimization goals, and bids.
3. Ads - this is where you will create or select the content that will be displayed as an ad and set the destination and tracking.
How to set up a TikTok ad campaign
There are a few steps involved in getting started with your very first TikTok ads campaign. It's pretty straightforward and the platform is relatively intuitive.
Create a TikTok business account
The first step is to create your business account. You can either create an account using your details or by signing in with your TikTok profile if you have one.
Create an ad account
Once you have created a business account, the next step is to create your ad account. Fill in your country/region and let TikTok know what you will be using your ad account for.
Implement pixel tracking
Next, you have to make sure that your tracking is in place. You can install the TikTok pixel via GTM, add it directly to your site, or by using the TikTok integration for your Shopify or WooCommerce store.
Setup a campaign
When you’re inside your new ad account, select the campaign tab from the top of the page and click on the 'Create' button on the top left of the ads platform interface and choose your campaign objective.
There are three broad campaign categories:
- Awareness: This objective will show your ads to as many people as possible within your set targeting. This objective usually has the lowest cost per impression but may not lead to leads or sales.
- Consideration: This objective will show your ads to people who are likely to perform a specific action. This includes website clicks, app installs, video views, form submissions, or interactions.
- Conversion: This is the preferred type for eCommerce brands and is built to target those users that are likely to buy from your online store via ads and catalog sales, and also through your TikTok Shop if you have one set up.
In this part, you will also give your campaign a name and choose your campaign budget.
Setup your ad group
There are a number of steps at the ad group level. Be sure to take your time as you work through this process as once you launch your campaign, you won’t be able to change some of these settings.
Create a name for your ad group and then select if you are promoting a website or app.
If you are promoting a website, it will ask for you to select the pixel you have already installed, plus an optimization event.
Choose your ad placement options
Automatic means TikTok will show your ad on all its available placements, manual means you choose for your ad to only be available on selected placements.
You can also decide if you would like to allow users to comment on your ads (which is great for engagement tagging, and ensuring your ad reaches more people) and if users are allowed to download your ad creative.
Import ad creatives
Select if you would like TikTok to create ad creatives for you by using existing images, videos, and copy from your account. This can be a great way to get your first TikTok ads up and running, but it significantly limits your creative options for your campaign.
Set your audience targeting
This is one of the most important steps when setting up your campaign as it tells TikTok exactly to who you want to show your ads. 'Custom targeting' gives you the full suite of targeting options available, while 'automatic targeting' only allows you to select the users' location, and TikTok will do the rest and determine who to show your ad to.
The first step when using custom targeting is to set your broad demographics including location, languages, gender, and age. You'll also need to identify here if you are promoting a product that fits into the HFSS category of products.
The first audience section here is where you can use your own data to determine the audience. These are called TikTok custom audiences. This is where you can include custom audiences based on website visits, video views, or any other trackable actions.
It is also where you can include a lookalike audience if have created one. You can create your own audience by uploading a list of email addresses in a CXV, TXT, or a zip file.
If you want to exclude a group, like people who have purchased from your store in the past 30 days, you can also do that in this section.
Choosing the interests and behaviors of your target audience is where you can really drill down to the audience you want to target.
Interests: First, determine if you want to target users with a general interest, or purchase intent interest. Then search for interests that are relevant to your business.
Interaction with videos: You can also select users who have performed a specific action on videos, and segment further by the type of videos they have performed these actions on.
Interaction with creators: creators have a ton of influence on TikTok and a useful way to identify and reach the right audience is to target users who follow creators in a specific category.
Watched videos with hashtags: Choose any relevant hashtags for your business to help identify your audience further.
There is no need to complete all four targeting sections above. Only complete the sections that are relevant to your business and the specific ad group you’re setting up.
Choose your budget
Select your desired budget which can be a daily budget or a lifetime budget. You can also choose to have an end date for your campaign, and input any dayparting requirements in this section. TikTok requires a minimum budget of $500 and a $20 minimum for ad groups.
Choose your bidding and optimization goal
Each campaign needs to have an optimization goal and the one that’s displayed here will depend on the initial campaign objective you set.
Bidding and optimization is a fine art and where most brands really see the benefit in working with a PPC expert.
Set up the creative
There are a number of ways to set up your ad creatives and this will mostly depend on if you are going to be using organic content originally posted to your TikTok profile (these are called Spark Ads), or uploading content specifically to be used as an ad.
Start off by naming your ad content. Then, decide if you want to use your TikTok account to deliver Spark Ads, or alternatively, create a profile for the purposes of running the ads. More often than not you will want to use your profile to run ads as this will help a potential customer explore your brand through your TikTok profile and explore the other exciting content you have.
If you are using Spark Ads, you can click on the '+TikTok post' to access all of the content on your TikTok profile.
Add interactive add-ons to your ad content to drive on-platform engagement, and display enticing offers to increase your conversion rate.
Submit your ad
Finally, choose your destination. Here you have the option to send a user to your website or create a TikTok Instant Page.
Hit Submit and your ad will go through the TikTok review process before going live. TikTok has an Ad Review Checklist which is worth reviewing to make sure you are meeting the TikTok guidelines.
Now that you know how to set up a TikTok advertising campaign, let’s talk about best practices.
TikTok advertising best practices
The type of content a brand uses for its ads plays a significant role in determining if a campaign will be successful. Here are some expert tips that can help you optimize your ads and increase your revenue.
Use the right format
Successful TikTok campaigns require TikTok-style content. Brands can't get away with using content that may have been successful on other social platforms and think they will get the same results. The videos that do best are vertical videos with a 9:16 ratio.
Show your personality
If there is one thing the TikTok revolution has shown, it's that brands have personalities! Some bigger brands like Doughnut Time have dedicated marketing budgets and use in-house content producers to grow their TikTok following.
People don't always want to be sold to so be authentic. Brands should aim to either educate or entertain and if they do this authentically then people will come along for the ride.
Work with content creators
Specialist content creators have a great understanding of the TikTok platform, trends, and how to create content that is appropriate for TikTok. There are plenty of ways to source content creators, including the TikTok Creator Marketplace or though Mayple's Influencer Marketing package.
Launch Branded Missions
Brands can amplify their campaigns by creating Branded Missions. This exciting new concept from TikTok enables brands to set missions for content creators for financial rewards and exclusive access to products. It's a win for brands as they get to work with new creators and a win for creators as they have the opportunity to work with more brands and get paid for it.
TikTok ads strategies
1. Content should be in the TikTok style
A typical ad will stand out and be skipped very quickly if it is not in the TikTok style. Make sure you have a firm grasp on how typical TikTok videos are created so your content fits.
2. Use the right music and sounds
Music or sounds with impact is critical. Make sure any soundtracks you use have an impact and fit the style of your content, and support the transitions of the video. Familiarise yourself with the relevant copyright requirements for using your selected track as well.
3. Optimize the video length
Keep it short and snappy. Get straight to the point and don't drag out your content.
4. Use compelling CTAs
What action do you want a user to take as a result of watching your ad? Make sure this is crystal clear and that the user can easily take the action you are optimizing for. This is where using the interactive add-ons can help you reach your campaign goals.
5. Use a TikTok landing page
Having a landing page dedicated to your TikTok ad campaigns is critical for maximizing conversion opportunities.
A TikTok audience is unique compared to other forms of channels and the content and structure of the landing page should be optimized for a TikTok audience. Ideally, you could have more video content in the TikTok style, TikTok only discounts, concise language, and most of all, ensure the landing page is educational, entertaining, and optimized for conversions.