TikTok was the most downloaded app in 2020, but what is it exactly, why has it become so popular, and how can you create TikTok ads like a pro for your business? 

TikTok is a social media app for creating and sharing videos with the community. It evolved out of Musical.ly, which was acquired by ByteDance in 2017, and a year later turned into the application we know today.

Users can select sound effects and music snippets from a vast library, add filters to short clips of them dancing and lip-syncing, or engage with other users and perform a duet via a response video.

The creative and comedic freedom TikTok provides as well as the online space it opened to cheer us all up, when we were confined to our homes, quickly made the app incredibly popular last year. 

One of their popularity secrets is TikTok’s unique algorithm that curates content for the discovery feed or For You page. It’s geared towards showing you videos around a topic that you’d frequently watch and makes connections between different videos that the same users look at.

Another key to TikTok’s huge following is the viral videos and trends they produce with dance challenges and their audio system. Any song that users upload can be used and lip-synched by anyone else in the community creating endless possibilities for video content.

Why add TikTok Advertising to Your Social Media Marketing Arsenal?

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With 689 million monthly active users worldwide, who spend an average of 52 minutes on the app, TikTok offers a large audience of mainly Gen Z and Millenials with numbers for higher age ranges rising quickly. If your target audience is part of the younger generation, you should definitely consider trying out this new social media platform.

But even if you’re looking at an older demographic, it might be worth your while to take advantage of the viral effect you can achieve. There’s the phenomenon we’ve found with other social media channels when the older generation sees the kids playing with a platform, they get curious after a while and want to try it out themselves. If you get in there early, you’ve already built a platform when your audience arrives.

Big brands like Nike, Chipotle, Apple Music, and Grubhub have already been using advanced targeting, unique ad creation, and reaped the benefits of higher engagement rates than on other platforms. This is the space to create consumer advocacy with creative and shareable content.

Going viral and connecting with your customers in unique ways with casual videos has never been this easy. You don’t necessarily need a carefully crafted and high-quality video ad. In fact, the more spontaneous and authentic it looks, the better.

Which Types of Ads Does the TikTok App Offer?

In-Feed Ads

These ads appear in people’s feeds just like on any other social network. Users get to see these while they scroll through their For You page and they can be nine to fifteen seconds long with a call-to-action that links to your online shop or a landing page of your choice. These ads are great for increasing engagement, as the community can like, comment, and share your ad.

Brand Takeover

This type of ad pops up in full-screen mode when users open the app. Brand takeovers also appear on For You pages in different formats such as videos, GIFs, or still images. A brand takeover will only be shown in full screen to a TikTok user once per day driving up its cost.

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Similar to Brand Takeover, TopView ads appear five seconds after users open the app. A major difference is that these can be as long as sixty seconds, but other than that they’re also full screen with sound and auto-play. You can include links to your online shop or other landing pages in your TopView ad.

Branded Hashtag Challenge

This is the most famous ad option that gives you the biggest chance at going viral on TikTok. It encourages user-generated content and is a great way to develop a dedicated community around your brand.

Branded hashtag challenges are featured on TikTok’s Discover page. Users can click on the hashtags to get to a landing page with the sponsor’s logo, their website, a description of the challenge, and the most popular videos by users that have already used the hashtag.

This type of ad can be expensive but by partnering with an influencer who promotes your branded hashtag, you can bring costs down.

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Branded Lens

This is a great ad format to get your target audience to be creative with your content. Using this ad format, brands can customize AR filters, stickers, and lenses.

This should be part of a campaign to get your audience to take a specific action to drive engagement. Branded effects can be accessed on the first page of the effects panel for up to three days and are searchable after that.

Influencer Ads

Just like on any other social media platform, getting influencers on board with your campaign can be very effective. If you choose this type, your ads appear as sponsored content on your audience’s feed with the influencer’s name attached to them.

Influencer campaigns boost brand awareness through their dedicated followers, who are more likely to be interested in your products or services when a person they follow and trust interacts with your brand.

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How to Advertise on TikTok

As with every other social media platform, to get started advertising on TikTok, it’s crucial to have a plan in place. Having a creative strategy ready on a platform that is a creative outlet for its users is a must.

We recommend extensive testing on TikTok to see what your target audience likes. Use A/B testing and refine your ads according to the metrics you get from analytics and see what works and what doesn’t.

Here’s our step-by-step guide to help you create your first ad:

Step 1: Create Your TikTok Ads Account

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Go to the TikTok For Business page and click the Get Started button. This takes you to a form where you can enter your company’s information. Enter your company details and a TikTok representative will contact you within 48 hours to check if your business qualifies.

Step 2: Create Your First TikTok Ads Campaign

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Once your account is confirmed and set up, you get access to your TikTok Ads dashboard. Click the Campaign tab and find the Create button. Click it and choose your Advertising Objective, which should be the primary goal of your campaign. Your three options are:


  • Traffic
  • Conversions
  • App install


In the Settings tab, choose whether you want to set a Daily Budget or a Total Budget for your campaign.

Step 3: Set up Your Ad Placements, Details, and Targeting

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time to select which of TikTok’s platforms you want to run your ads on. TikTok owns other apps like Vigo Video in India, BuzzVideo in Japan, TopBuzz in the US and Brazil, Babe in Indonesia, and News Republic. Depending on your target audience and their location, you can select different platforms to show your ads to.

There is also an option to choose Automatic Placement and let TikTok calculate where to place your ads for the best results.

In the next step, enter the assets for your ad including URLs to the landing pages of your choice, a display name, images, and categories. Select up to twenty keywords to describe your website or app that will help match your products with the right audience.

In the Targeting section, define the target audience for your ads. Choose from parameters like location, age, gender, languages, interests, devices, and more to ensure your ads are shown to the right people. More advanced users can upload a CSV, TXT, or ZIP file with IDs of existing TikTok users to create custom audiences.

Step 4: Determine Ad Spend and Duration

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In the next step, determine how much you want to spend on your ad campaign. To set a budget, choose between a daily budget and a total budget for the duration of your scheduled campaign. Choose one of the two options and add the amount you’d like to spend.

Next to Schedule, enter the start date and check the option Run continuously if you don’t have any preferred times to run your ads. If you want to be more specific, click Select Specific Time under Dayparting and enter a more targeted time frame. 

You can also select a pacing option for how quickly you want TikTok to spend your budget. To space out your budget evenly across the duration of your campaign, choose the Standard delivery option. If you want to spend your budget as fast as possible, pick the Accelerate option.

Step 5: Optimize Your Goals

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To optimize your goal on TikTok, make sure you’re clear on the key metrics you want to achieve with your ad campaign. You can choose to optimize your ad group for:


  • Conversion
  • Click
  • Impression


Choose Conversion, if you want your ad to be seen by users most likely to convert for your products or services. Determine which actions trigger a conversion by clicking Library and selecting Conversions

In this menu, set up tracking for elements on your landing page via a pixel, or app installs by inserting the Google Play and App Store links and selecting a Measurement Partner. This sets you up for the optimization cost per click (oCPC) bidding method, in which you bid on how much you think the conversion will cost but pay by CPC. The TikTok ad platform automatically adjusts your bids to keep the cost of your campaign close to your target price.

Select Click as a goal for your ad group to get as many clicks as possible. Your final option is Impression, which means that you pay at a cost per mille (CPM) or the prize of a thousand impressions.

Enable Smart Optimization to get your bids automatically adjusted to increase conversions. Don’t use this with the Impression goal option.

Step 6: Design Your Ad with TikTok’s Video Creation Kit

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Depending on the type of ad you want to create, select Single Video or Single Image. In the video section, you have the options to Add from your ComputerAdd from Library, or Create a Video. TikTok ads can be horizontal, vertical, or square videos and images.

TikTok’s Video Creation Kit is an integrated tool that offers you a hub full of video templates and images you can customize as well as over 300 free background music tracks. This is your chance to get creative and play around with different variations to create your successful ad.

Step 7: Refine Your Ad for Advertising on TikTok

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To refine your TikTok ad and create a profitable campaign, keep the following in mind: 

  • Use high-resolution images.
  • Focus on one call to action and direct your audience to a relevant landing page.
  • There’s a limit of 80 characters for ad descriptions. If you need to explain something with more words, use the Video Creation Kit to insert text into your video or images.
  • Put your key message in the middle of the screen rather than the bottom, as your ad description will be featured at the bottom of the screen.

Our pro tip is to test different targeting options, images, videos, and calls to action. You can create variations of your ad easily with the Automated Creative Optimization tool. Upload up to ten images or five videos, five ad texts, and one call to action. The tool then combines these into a variety of ads it tests to find the best combo for your target audience.

Elisabeth Strasser

Elisabeth Strasser

Lizzie is a professional Content Writer. She's been passionate about SEO and content marketing ever since a life-changing internship at a digital marketing agency while completing her BA in English and American Studies.

Having graduated with a Professional Writing MA with distinction, Lizzie set out to gain her copywriting and digital marketing experience in Cork City.

An Austrian with a love for Ireland, Lizzie loves exploring Irish folklore and storytelling. Her favourite DW tools are:
Youtube Outro Maker and Add Logo to Video tools.