By Laia Cardona, on 21 April 2020
TikTok is the new kid in town in the social media world. And up until fairly recently, it was thought of as only a Gen Z app. Now, as TikTok is gaining more momentum outside of Gen Z circles, advertisers are beginning to build up their TikTok advertising strategy.
And for good reason too, when you consider the app has had over 1.5 billion app downloads and rakes in about 500 million active users each month.
The app has now launched a number of advertising formats to help brands reach their audience on their network. In this article, we’ll review the step by step process for advertising on TikTok.
Advertising on TikTok
TikTok is a great advertising opportunity for brands. Its active user numbers already outpace Twitter and Snapchat. It's also less saturated with ads than other social networks, as it's still a new and relatively little-known ad option.
In early 2019, TikTok released a beta version of its advertising platform. Since then, big brands like Nike and Apple Music have used TikTok advertising to promote their products with unique and entertaining ads.
Advertising on TikTok offers unique formats and targeting options that, when used effectively, help you access one of the most lucrative and hard to reach user groups: Gen Z. But advertising on TikTok isn’t suitable for all companies.
How Much Does it Cost to Advertise on TikTok?
TikTok is a good advertising solution for big brands like Nike, Disney or Grubhub, but it may not be profitable for small businesses.
Since advertising on TikTok is new, and there are still very few ads, the costs are high. A leaked TikTok pitch deck revealed that large campaigns can range anywhere from $25,000 to $150,000 depending on the type of campaign you choose.
For self service ads, TikTok requires a minimum budget of $500 for overall campaigns, with a $20 minimum for ad groups. This minimum allows you to see results and ensure that you ads can reach your objectives.
Unfortunately, if you're looking for solutions with low costs and predictable results, TikTok probably isn't your best bet at this moment.
TikTok Advertising Target Audiences
If your brand’s main target audience is Gen Z, TikTok advertising can potentially prove to be a good investment. 66% of TikTok users are under the age of 30, and 41% are between 16 and 24. Similarly, many videos that are trending on TikTok are related to younger topics, like high school, homework, and relationships.
However, it’s important to remember that many social networks’s popularity first starts with younger users, and then expands to other audiences. So even if advertising on TikTok isn't right for you right now, it's a good idea to learn about the process so you can be prepared.
According to venture capital firm Klieners Perkins, TikTok users spend an average of 52 minutes a day on the app.
Another report by Prioridata and Statista confirms the current market domination through the number of downloads. TikTok is currently beating more established apps like Instagram and Facebook.
But, according to an AppTopia study, engagement levels on the app are not quite the same as on other apps.
It’s important to consider this information, to see if it's worth including TikTok in your social media digital marketing strategy. It will all depend on your ultimate goal.
TikTok Advertising Formats
TikTok offers 2 main overall forms for advertising on the app. Let’s take a look at which one would be best for your brand.
Biddable Ads on TikTok allow you to bid on ad slots within this social network. These are the only self-service style ads currently available to advertisers. At the moment, bidding is made manually; it is not a programmatic advertising solution, like on Google Ads.
Biddable Ads allow you to bid to place video ads in the app's main feed. There are three different pricing models:
- CPC (cost per click)
- CPM (cost per mille)
- CPV (cost per view)
You can currently target your ads by age, gender, and location. We expect that there will be behavioral and interest targeting options in the near future. You can also create custom audiences and blacklists.
Formats That Require a TikTok Account Manager
TikTok also offers campaigns that go beyond just normal video ads. To use this format, you will need to have a larger budget and work with a TikTok account manager. The campaign options are:
- Brand Takeover: A large-format ad that appears when users open the app. It is limited to one advertiser per day.
- Hashtag Challenge: The goal of this type of campaign is to create viral user generated content, by uploading a video with a unique dance or challenge and encouraging other users to participate. This is an interesting format because depending on the challenge itself the advertisement can be as subtle or as straightforward as you design it to be.
- Branded Lenses: This ad format allows brands to create custom augmented reality filters for users to incorporate into their content, similar to Snapchat and Instagram.
- Influencer Package: You will be set up with a TikTok influencer relevant to your brand who will then create sponsored content. TikTok has their own platform for partnering with their creators.
How to Advertise on TikTok, Step by Step
1. Create a TikTok Ads Account
Because TikTok’s advertising program is still fairly new, the process isn’t as autonomous as Instagram or Facebook. Visit the TikTok Ads homepage and click the "Create an Ad" button.
When you click the button a form will appear asking you for information to set up your account. Fill it out and submit it, and a TikTok representative will contact you in 5 business days to let know if your business qualifies.
2. Create an Ad Campaign
Once you're inside the TikTok Ads dashboard, you'll need to click on the "Campaign" tab and then on the "Create" button.
TikTok organizes their advertising in three levels: Campaign, Ad Groups, Ads. A campaign is the overall activity, while ad groups and ads are the functions within the campaign.
Choose a goal for your ad. Currently, TikTok advertising offers three main objectives: traffic, conversions, and application installations.
Now you'll have to choose the budget for the entire campaign. You can choose between the "Daily Budget" or "Total Budget" options.
3. Set Up The Ad Group
The next step is to create an ad group within the campaign. This step is when placements and targeting are decided. Within a campaign you can have different ad groups intended for different audiences.
Advertising on TikTok gives you access to advertising on the entire family of related applications, which includes Vigo Video (India only), BuzzVideo (Japan), TopBuzz (US and BR), Babe (Indonesia), and News Republic (worldwide). You can choose to limit your ads to TikTok or to the entire network.
TikTok will calculate where it can get the best results with your ad and place it there.
Once you've chosen your preferred placements, follow the instructions to enter all the assets needed to start running your ad, including URLs, display name, images, categories, etc.
A very interesting aspect of this step is the keyword section, which allows you to select up to 20 terms to describe your website or application. These keywords will be used to show your products to the right audience, so think carefully about your choice.
Finally, the "Targeting" section allows you to define the target audience for your ads. You can set parameters such as location, age, gender, languages, devices, and more.
If you want to launch your ad to a particular group of people, for example, to run a remarketing campaign, you can create a custom audience through existing TikTok user IDs. Simply upload the list of IDs to a CSV, TXT or ZIP file. You will also need the TikTok pixel in order to run remarketing campaigns and to track campaign effectiveness.
4. Set The Campaign Details
In the "Budget & Schedule" section, select the ad group budget. Once again, you can select how much you're willing to spend per day or the total amount you want to spend for the duration of the campaign.
Then select the dates you want the campaign to be active. The "Dayparting" option allows you to choose specific times of day or days of the week to show your ads.
You can also choose the pace at which you want the budget to be spent: "standard" distributes the budget evenly throughout the campaign, while the "accelerate" option utilizes it as quickly as possible during the fixed period.
You can then select the ad group optimization goal:
- Conversion: Your ad will show to people most likely to make a conversion action for your product or service. To track actions that involve a conversion (for example, downloading an app or filling out a form), you can create conversion events and track it using a pixel. The payment model for conversion goals is oCPC (optimized cost-per-click), which ensures that ads are shown to users who are most likely to take a particular action.
- Click: Your ad will be optimized to attract as many clicks as possible and will be charged based on a cost-per-click (CPC) payment model.
- Impressions: Your ad will be optimized to show as many times as possible and will be charged based on a cost-per-thousand (CPM) impression payment model.
Finally, you can turn the "Smart Optimization" option on or off. If enabled, your bids will be constantly optimized to increase conversions. We recommend turning off this option if your goals are clicks or impressions.
5. Design Your Ad
TikTok ads consist of images and videos in horizontal, vertical and square format. To make it easier for advertisers to work, this network offers a tool called Video Creation Kit, which includes video templates and images that you can customize with your own images. In addition, it also has more than 300 free background music options.
Another useful tool is Automated Creative Optimization, which allows you to upload up to 10 images, 5 videos, 5 ad texts, and one call to action. The system will then combine them with each other to create multiple ads. Afterwards, the tool will test these ads and use the most effective combinations.
Finally, you can also use the Landing Page to Video tool, which captures high-quality images from any landing page URL you give it, and then automatically combines these images with music to create video ads.
TikTok Advertising Best Practices
You're finally ready to start your TikTok advertising! Here are some final tips for optimizing your ads and making them even more effective:
- Take a look at TikTok’s own Inspiration section within their website to see how other brands have managed to find success on the platform
- When launching an ad in the Brand Takeover format, it's especially important to use high-resolution images. Be sure to follow TikTok’s ad specifications.
- Note that text space is limited to 80 characters. But, because you only have a split second to grab your audience’s attention, we recommend including the most important text straight into the video itself.
- Focus on only one call to action at a time, such as downloading your app or using a coupon on your website, but not both at the same time.
- And as always, don't forget to test different creative elements and targeting to improve your advertising in TikTok more and more. A/B testing is the best way to ensure whether or not your different tactics and assets are working.
We hope this guide has helped you and prepared your for diving into the world of TikTok advertising! As this is still such a new format, we can expect to see the trends, processes, and best practices evolve overtime.