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The Best TikTok Paid Ads Guide for Beginners

TikTok Paid Ads Guide for Beginners

In the rapidly evolving digital advertising landscape, TikTok has emerged as a formidable challenger to long-established PPC giants such as Meta and Google Ads. With its unparalleled growth trajectory, becoming the most downloaded app in recent years, TikTok has captivated the attention of innovative brands.

TikTok has transformed from a burgeoning social platform to a global phenomenon, especially popular among Generation Z and millennials. Marking a significant milestone, TikTok has recently joined the elite club of platforms with over 1 billion users, notably as the only one not under the Facebook/Meta umbrella.

Targeting an audience aged 18 and older on TikTok now opens up a staggering potential reach of nearly 900 million users, representing a significant portion of the global adult population and internet users.

This reach is particularly noteworthy considering TikTok’s absence in key markets like India. The platform shows a skew towards younger females, with females comprising 57% of its user base.

However, its diverse user demographics make TikTok a versatile choice for brands aiming to connect with a broad spectrum of genders and interests. The ongoing growth and evolving demographics of TikTok users make it a dynamic and increasingly essential platform for modern digital marketing strategies.

Generation Z - typical market for TikTok paid advertising

What are TikTok Paid Ads?

Through TikTok Ads Manager, you can buy media placements, diversifying your advertising strategies. You can use it to create your ads, manage your ads, and discover insights about your ads’ performance. This versatility has made TikTok an essential platform for targeting not only local but also international audiences.

With over a billion active users, TikTok offers various advertising options, each tailored to connect brands with their customers in innovative and engaging ways, far beyond the scope of organic reach.

Brands have a selection of paid ad types on TikTok, so you can select the best for your target audience and budget. Like most social networks with a social advertising programme, TikTok has a set of rules they require advertisers to follow. These include their Terms of Service and Community Guidelines, along with policies on Ad Creatives & Landing Pages. If all that sounds too confusing and time-consuming, then our team at House of Marketers can walk you through the requirements and help you to avoid breaking any of the TikTok rules.

The main types of TikTok paid ads are:

TikTok offers a versatile array of advertising formats to cater to different marketing objectives:

  • In-Feed Video: Appearing on the user’s ‘For You Page,’ these ads blend seamlessly into the native news feed.
  • TopView ads: Notable for their effectiveness in capturing attention right when the app is opened.
  • Branded Hashtag Challenge: A unique format encouraging user-generated content around a brand-specific hashtag, fostering high engagement and brand awareness.
  • Branded Effects ads: Customizable stickers, filters, and effects that offer interactive brand experiences.
  • Spark ads: A format that allows boosting organic content within the TikTok Ads Manager, similar to post boosting on other platforms.
  • Pangle ads: These are ads run through TikTok’s manager but appear on third-party apps, offering a wider reach.

1.) In-Feed Ads

As the name suggests, these ads appear in TikTok viewers’ feeds (on their For You page) in a full-screen and sound-on environment. You create these using the TikTok Ad Manager or contract an agency, such as House of Marketers, to develop them for you. Of course, being TikTok, these have to be video ads, although TikTok allows you to make image ads for TikTok’s News Feed apps (BuzzVideo, TopBuzz, and Babe). You can also create carousel ads for these apps, but not TikTok itself.

Video in-feed ads appear as a 5-60 second full-screen video in a user’s For You feed. Your ad can include a video, an ad display image, brand or app name, and ad text.

Nielsen CPG Media Mix Model Meta Analysis commissioned by Tik Tok showed in-feed video as the most efficient performer in marketing mix Models.

2.) TopView Ads

If you book a TopView ad, your ad appears full screen for 5 to 60 seconds when users open their TikTok app. As a result, it gives massive visibility to an advertiser, although you need to ensure that your ad doesn’t annoy those TikTok users who have to view it. TikTok describes TopView ads as being TikTok’s biggest billboard.

These ads require that you (or your agency) work with a TikTok sales representative and are not self-service.

TikTok claims that 71% of users say TopView grabs their attention and that they rank #1 in the engagement index

3.) Branded Hashtag Challenge Ads

Branded Hashtag Challenge Ads also require you or your agency to deal with a TikTok sales representative rather than using the self-service platform. These ads utilize TikTok’s popular Hashtag Challenge format. You set a challenge and advertise over three to six days to keep the momentum going. Viewers who accept your challenge will create user-generated content (UGC) that shows on your Hashtag Challenge page.

According to TikTok, Branded Hashtag Challenges have a median engagement rate of 17.5%.

4.) Branded Effects Ads

With Branded Effects ads, you create branded games, stickers, filters, and special effects, that viewers can use to interact with your brand.

5.) Spark Ads

You use Spark Ads to boost organic content from either your account or a creator’s/influencer’s account. At House of Marketers, we often do this for our clients – we do this by receiving a video code directly from the creator we’re working with.

The ads that require you to work with a TikTok sales rep (TopView, Branded Hashtag Challenge, and Branded Effects) can be costly, so be prepared to budget up to £77,000 or more for a campaign. On the other hand, In-feed and Spark ads are generally much cheaper and manageable for even small businesses.

6.) Pangle ads

Pangle Ads are a unique advertising offering within the TikTok ecosystem. Managed through the TikTok Ads Manager, these ads extend beyond the TikTok app itself, appearing on a variety of third-party applications. This extended reach is particularly valuable for advertisers looking to tap into new audiences and diversify their ad placements.

Pangle Ads can be delivered in multiple formats including video ads, banner ads, and more, catering to different engagement styles. Their availability in various regions, though limited, offers targeted reach in specific markets, making them a strategic choice for region-specific campaigns.

By leveraging Pangle Ads, businesses can benefit from TikTok’s robust targeting and creative capabilities while accessing a broader audience outside the TikTok platform. This not only enhances brand visibility but also increases the opportunities for engagement and conversion through diverse ad experiences.

TikTok Promote

TikTok also offers Promote as a way for you to get more people to discover your videos, guide more people to your website, and improve your chances of gaining followers. If you Promote a video, it displays like an ad. However, it is only a tool to make your videos more visible – it is still up to you to create videos that people want to watch.

Setting up TikTok ads can be time-consuming and complex, especially if you’re new to the platform’s dynamics. Don’t let your efforts go unnoticed due to inexperience or mistargeting. Let House of Marketers, a specialist TikTok marketing agency, streamline your campaign for maximum impact and efficiency, saving you time and resources.

Making a TikTok paid ad

Setting Up a TikTok Ad Campaign

Setting up a TikTok ad campaign is a straightforward process, designed to be user-friendly and intuitive.

Step 1: Set up Ad Account and Pixel tracking

Begin by creating a TikTok Business account and create an Ad account. Specify your region and intended use. Implement Pixel tracking.

Step 2: Understand Location-Targeting Limits for TikTok Paid Social Ads

With TikTok ads still being relatively new, you won’t be able to use them in every market, although you will have no problems in the UK. In case you need help setting up ad campaigns in countries where it is not available yet, contact us for more information about our TikTok ad Account Rental service.

TikTok lists the locations where you can place TikTok ads, depending on your region. In the case of ads placed in the United Kingdom, you can deliver them to TikTok in 28 countries and Pangle video advertising platform in another six (mainly Arab) nations.

You or your TikTok marketing agency will need to go through the following steps when setting up In-feed ads using the TikTok Ad Manager. The process will vary when setting up other types of TikTok ads, as you will work directly with a TikTok sales representative.


Step 3: Set Your Campaign Objectives for TikTok Paid Ads

As with any ad campaign, you should first set goals/objectives for your TikTok ads campaign. The goal is to choose objectives for awareness, consideration, or conversions.

You want to select precisely what you are attempting to achieve with this campaign. You can select from one of the following ad objectives (in three categories):

TikTok Ads for Awareness

  • Reach

TikTok Ads for Consideration

  • Traffic
  • App Instals
  • Video Views
  • Lead Generation

TikTok Ads for Conversions

  • Conversions (e.g., purchases on your site or subscriptions)
  • Catalogue sales

TikTok Advertising Objective

Step 4: Determine your Budget

At the next stage, TikTok will ask you for a campaign name and a budget, i.e. how much you are willing to spend on your TikTok paid ads in this campaign.

If you’re uncertain about how much you want to spend now, you can adjust this amount later.

You need to select one of three options for your campaign budget:

  • No limit – you set no campaign budget limit, and your budget for your ad groups will determine your spending
  • Daily budget – you set a maximum level of ad spend for a day
  • Lifetime budget – you set a maximum overall budget for your campaign

Step 5: Create Ad Groups

What is an ad group?

Ad groups are the place where you select the audience you are targeting (demographics, interests and behaviours), the app store you’re targeting (if it’s an app installs campaign), your budget scheduling, as well as your bidding and optimization goals.

You might feel you only need one Ad Group (or even a single video ad for a small TikTok campaign), but you can create up to 999 Ad Groups if you need to. Each Ad Group will contain a combination of videos that you wish to share with the same audience. You can test particular videos with multiple Ad Groups to see which ad groups convert best.

female and male

Step 6: Choose Automated Creative Optimization and Audience Targeting

One of the options with TikTok paid social ads is Automated Creative Optimization. If you select this, TikTok automatically generates combinations of your images, videos, and ad text and then uses the best-performing ones.

TikTok Ad Targeting Options

Now that you’ve set up your creative assets, the next crucial phase is honing in on your target audience. This step is vital in ensuring your ad content resonates with and reaches the right viewers.

Once you know WHY you intend to create a campaign involving TikTok social ads and how much you are willing to spend, you should turn your attention to WHO. Who are you hoping to target with your ads?

As we saw above, TikTok is particularly popular with young women, although many young men also spend time on the platform.

TikTok has the most users (aged 18+) in the USA (130,962,500), followed by Indonesia (92,069,500). However, in percentage terms, TikTok advertising reach is highest in Saudi Arabia (87.8%), the U.A.E. (81.3%), and Thailand (63.6%). TikTok has a much more male-dominated audience than elsewhere if you’re targeting the Arabian market.

TikTok’s UK audience demographics are like those of their US counterparts. The TikTok advertising reach in the UK (18+) is 21,811,500 (40.4% of the UK 18+ population). UK users spend much more time using TikTok on their apps than in many countries, averaging 27.3 hours per month.

Make sure your targeting aligns with your campaign goals, whether it’s brand awareness, driving traffic, or conversions.

Alternatively – Setup TikTok Custom Audience

TikTok Custom Audiences is an ad targeting option that allows you, as an advertiser, to identify consumers that are already engaged with your business.

The custom audience feature is a very powerful tool because it enables you to reinforce communication with a very specifically targeted audience that you know is engaged – allowing you to optimise your budget more effectively.

Please note that a minimum audience size of 1,000 is required to target Custom Audiences in an ad group.

With custom audiences, you can do the following:

  • Reach current customers
  • Target users who have engaged with your ads, website or app
  • Create a similar or “lookalike” audiences
  • Exclude audiences

However, before creating your custom audiences you need to first set up your pixel, or TikTok won’t be able to track visitors on your website.

It’s crucial to leverage TikTok’s Custom Audiences to maximise your ad spend efficiency. By targeting those who have previously interacted with your ads or website, you increase the likelihood of higher engagement and conversion rates.

Something You Should Know: TikTok Pixel

Before diving deeper into the creation of Custom Audiences, it’s essential to understand the role of the TikTok Pixel. The TikTok Pixel is a small piece of code that you embed on your website. This tool is instrumental in tracking visitor actions and behaviours, providing invaluable data for fine-tuning your ad targeting.

The TikTok Pixel is a piece of code you place on your website. It collects information when people visit your site, which you share with TikTok. You create your TikTok Pixel in the TikTok Events Manager. To build an audience based on website traffic, you will first have to set up the TikTok Pixel. Then, you can use it to track website visitor actions, like ‘view page’ or ‘purchase’.

Creating your custom audiences

Create custom audiences on TikTok

You can create a custom audience for your ads. This lets you find people who already know or have engaged with your business and retarget them. You can create your custom audience based on the following:

  • Customer File – upload a customer file to create a Custom Audience based on them
  • Engagement – create an audience from users who have already engaged with TikTok ad content
  • App Activity – create an audience of users who have completed certain events within your app
  • Lead Generation – create an audience from users who have previously engaged with your Lead Ads
  • Website Traffic – create an audience of users who have visited or taken a specific action on your website

Alternatively- Set up a Lookalike audience.

You can also set up lookalike audiences. Lookalike Audience can help you find audience groups that share similar demographics, interests and behaviours as your existing customers. It could help you find audiences that are interested in your product and expand your audience range. You can create lookalike audiences based on your custom audiences. We suggest that you only make lookalikes of your current customers. But remember, you need 1000 people in a custom audience to make your lookalike audiences.


Step 7: Set Budgets and Ad Schedules for Each Ad Group

While you may have set an overall budget for your campaign earlier in setting up your TikTok paid ads, you still need to set a budget for each Ad Group, so TikTok understands how to distribute your funds between your Ad Groups. Again, you have the option of selecting a daily or a lifetime budget.

You also need to set a start and end date for ads to play in each Ad Group. If you want to be more granular, you can select Dayparting, which allows you to set ads to play at your preferred times of the day (in your account’s time zone).

Step 8: Choose Bidding Methods and Strategies

TikTok offers a variety of bidding methods, depending on your overall strategy and objectives. You can select from one of the following when making your bids:

  • Cost per Mille/Thousand Impressions (CPM), i.e., what you are willing to pay for 1000 impressions
  • Optimised Cost per Mille/Thousand Impressions (oCPM), i.e., what you are willing to pay to create one thousand impressions, targeting users that are likely to complete a conversion event. This is now the default bidding method for the Conversions and App Instals advertising objectives
  • Cost per Thousand Views (CPV), i.e., what you are willing to pay for per one thousand 6-second or 2-second video views.
  • Cost per Click (CPC), i.e., the amount you are willing to pay per click.

TikTok paid ads function very much like those on Facebook and Instagram. You bid to have your ad presented to your target audience ahead of others, including potentially your competition. The actual bidding process goes on behind the scenes, so you don’t have to micromanage your bidding. However, you will want to set up your bidding process to optimise things and ensure that you have the best chance of placing your ads how you want them.

You begin by setting an Optimization Goal (conversion, clicks, or reach) and then choosing a Bid Strategy from:

  • Bid Cap – this helps keep the average cost per result below your bid threshold. You enter a maximum cost per result you are willing to bid. This can help if your advertising objective is Traffic, Reach, Video Views, App Install, or Conversions.
  • Cost Cap – this gives an average cost per result that TikTok’s system tries to achieve. Sometimes, the cost per result will fluctuate higher or lower than the bid amount. This can help if your advertising objective is App Install, Conversions, or Lead Generation
  • Lowest Cost – this doesn’t require a bid. Instead, TikTok’s system uses your available Ad Group budget to generate as many results as possible at the lowest cost per result.

TikTok bidding strategy

Choose a Delivery Type

When setting your bidding strategy, you can choose between “standard” or “accelerated” delivery types.

With standard delivery, you spend your budget as evenly as possible over the length of your campaign. This spreads your budget out based on the distribution of traffic within the selected delivery period.

Accelerated delivery, however, spends your budget at the best times to give the highest exposure of your ads to your target audience as quickly as possible.

Step 9: Set Up Your Ad Creatives for TikTok Paid Ads

An essential part of any TikTok paid ads campaign is the creation of the ads. The first rule to successful advertising on TikTok is to ensure that your ads don’t particularly look like ads. You can’t, for instance, expect to get away with merely reusing your television ads on TikTok. TikTok’s Generation Z audience is notorious for switching off anything that resembles a traditional ad.

  • As part of your TikTok ad setup process, you created one or more Ad Groups. You can place up to 20 ads within an Ad Group.
  • If you’re advertising on other apps in TikTok’s family, you might wish to create some image ads. Otherwise, you will need to create video ads or select existing content when using Spark Ads.
  • You, or your agency, will need to upload your ads using TikTok Ads Manager and ensure that you place them in the appropriate Ad Groups.

You will also need to upload a thumbnail, relevant text, and a link.

Be aware that TikTok goes through a review process with all ads before accepting them. Also, if you’re using someone else’s posts for a Spark Ad, you will first have to contact the creator of those posts to gain an access code.

Of course, you might find it easier to partner with an expert who knows your target audience well to create content for your campaign. House of Marketers can find many high-quality TikTok creators who have audiences that match your target demographics. You can combine content from some of the best influencers in your niche with the power of TikTok paid ads to create videos that interest precisely the right people for your campaign. Learn more about our TikTok influencer campaign processes here.

Step 10: Step Evaluating Performance and Moving Forward

You will find a dashboard summarising the status of your campaign in your TikTok Ad Manager. Review the performance of your ads regularly, taking note of metrics relating to the current status of your campaigns, your CPA, CPM, oCPM, CPV, CPC, conversions, current ad spend, and more. You will find additional information relating to specific campaigns in your Campaign tab.

TikTok Advertising Best Practices

To maximise the impact of your TikTok advertising campaigns, consider these expert tips:

  • Use the Right Format: Embrace TikTok’s signature vertical video format with a 9:16 ratio.
  • Show Your Personality: Let your brand’s unique character shine through in your content.
  • Be Authentic: Focus on content that educates or entertains genuinely.
  • Work with Content Creators: Collaborate with TikTok specialists who understand the platform’s trends and content styles.
  • Launch Branded Missions: Engage creators with branded missions for mutual benefits.
  • Optimise Video Length: Keep content short and engaging.
  • Use Compelling CTAs: Clearly define the action you want users to take.
  • TikTok-Specific Landing Page: Use a dedicated landing page for your TikTok campaigns.

Inspire your TikTok content strategy. See the 17 of the best brands on TikTok.

Ready to Leverage TikTok Paid ads?

If your target market matches the types of people who love TikTok, then there is a good chance that TikTok paid ads could be ideal for your business. This is particularly the case if you target Generation Z, Alpha, or Millennials.

However, while TikTok in-feed social ads may share some similarities with Facebook and Instagram ads, particularly with bidding, targeting, and setting up your campaign, they are very different from traditional ads.

This is mainly because the younger generations so besotted with TikTok are highly cynical about anything that resembles a conventional ad. Therefore, you need to create video ads that will gain their attention and keep it long enough for them to view your ads in their entirety.

What to do then?

House of Marketers to the rescue!

House of Marketers is a TikTok paid ads agency built by past TikTok employees and TikTok partners who can do all the hard work for you.

Our TikTok Ads agency offers fully managed TikTok ads services, doing everything from bespoke content creation to regular ads management as well as ads account rental service. We execute TikTok ad campaigns that your customers will enjoy and want to engage with.

We keep you involved in the process every step of the way, providing you with in-depth reports and data analysis every week. Then, at the end of each month, we put together a report looking at what worked, what needs improvement, and any necessary expansions.

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