TikTok Advertising Guide 101

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TikTok Advertising

You must have seen all those funny or “weird” videos on the internet where people act or shoot while there’s a background score playing along. You must have seen top social media influencers posting musical videos where they mimic or do lip-sync with a song or dialogue. If you have, you have a gist of TikTok. But what else do you know about this app that has become such a popular thing today? Let us dive deeper.

What is TikTok?

TikTok encourages its users to upload short videos. Most of its former Musical.ly users simply uploaded videos of themselves lip-synching to music videos. The more talented, enthusiastic, and technically proficient members uploaded videos of original content, and it is these people who became the influencers on the platform. Most TikTok videos are up to 15-seconds long, although you can create and share 60-second Stories-type videos. Both the original TikTok and Musical.ly targeted the same audience – teens and tweens. Therefore, it is no surprise that the combined TikTok also focuses on 13-24-year-olds. But we don’t want to generalize. The platform isn’t just meant for this age group. Today, you’ll find people from different age groups using TikTok for various purposes. Today, young and old, countless people from various age groups make videos touching different topics. Also, the viewers come from all age groups, genders, nationalities, and other demographic specifications.

History of TikTok

History of TikTok

TikTok has seemingly exploded from nowhere to become one of the most downloaded apps in the world. It began life as a moderately successful video-sharing app – tagged Douyin in its native China and TikTok in the rest of the world. In 2018, however, it bought out the better-known app, Musical.ly, migrating all its non-Chinese users to a new combined TikTok platform. The company still operates Douyin as a separate app in its home country.

Whenever a new channel blooms successfully on the internet, it creates chaos. This chaos is witnessed, viewed, experienced, and used by large masses. Today, even if TikTok has several haters and trollers, TikTok enjoys more than 800 million installs. This number is too big to be ignored! And whenever a channel gains popularity of this magnitude, business owners try to utilize it the most for their profit. While Gen-Z and young millennials have begun using the platform to show their creative side, some brands are also beginning to experiment. But, because TikTok is still such a young app, many marketers might be wondering, “Is getting on this app even worth it?” Just like other social media channels, business owners are now preferring TikTok to market their products and services to grab the target market, especially the young crowd.

Why Have Marketers Been Waiting For Ads on TikTok?

Waiting For Ads on TikTok

Before Musical.ly was integrated into the TikTok platform, advertisers could purchase ad space on Musical.ly. Surprised that advertising wasn’t initially an option on TikTok, many advertisers and business owners – especially those who target TikTok’s creative audience and recognized TikTok’s immediate popularity among Gen-Zers and other demographics – have been awaiting TikTok’s further monetization.

Because advertising is now being tested on TikTok’s platform, we predict marketers who target Gen-Zers will come running and ready to test innovative campaigns.

There are three main ways that brands can market on TikTok.

  • They can create their own channel and upload relevant videos through their channel
  • They can work with influencers, to spread content to a broader audience (influencer marketing)
  • They can pay to advertise on TikTok (TikTok advertising)

In this article, we will talk about the third option, TikTok advertising.

If you see, it is too soon for TikTok advertising and there certainly isn’t a market yet like there is for YouTube. started showing short ads in January 2019. However, TikTok advertising may become more popular and established over time. The list of brands on TikTok already includes Nike, Fenty Beauty, and Apple Music. Sponsored ads for Five Feet Apart, a film starring teen actor Cole Sprouse, have also been appearing in the upper carousel of TikTok’s search page feed. The ad includes a sponsor disclaimer and includes the option to buy tickets in the app. Currently, TikTok has rolled out several features that business owners can use to advertise and market their products and services. Some of the features already existed, and they now have better features, usability and purpose. Here are some of those features:

TikTok Features

Takeover Screen Ads

These takeover or brand takeover screen ads are full-screen five-second static or animated ads that appear when the TikTok user first opens the app, bringing your message front and centre. These brand takeover ads direct users to an internal or external destination – a page or account within TikTok or to a related hashtag challenge. To date, this ad type limits that amount of advertisers per day in each country. Brands like GrubHub and Softbank have already started using this TikTok advertising option and are currently gaining a lot of popularity for the same. Takeovers allow one brand to take over the app for a day and allow you to create images, GIFs, and videos.

Video Ads

Also known as infeed native content, these video ads act similarly to Snapchat or Instagram story ads. They play in full screen, are skippable, and must be 9-15 seconds in length, like any other TikTok video. You can measure the campaign’s success through tracking clicks, impressions, click-through rate (CTR), video views and engagements. Just like brand takeover ads, you can also embed links to landing pages, to an app store, or to hashtag challenges within the app in these ads as well. There seem to be different ad options within the in-feed ad type, as well as possible restrictions on the number of advertisers and ad creatives being run at one time. This is one of the best types of advertising your brand as you can directly be in front of your target audiences. Although they can skip the video ads and move ahead to something that concerns them more, for a moment, the ad does capture the attention of your target audience.

Branded AR or Lens Filter

You can create branded lenses like Snapchat or Instagram filters that you as well as your users can apply in their videos. These lenses and stickers include 2D lens filters for photos and 3D lenses for faces, as well as AR stickers. Similar to the AR lenses offered by Snapchat and Instagram, TikTok’s branded lenses will bring face filters, 3D objects, and more to users. This type of advertising will also work in your favour as you can roll out personalized lenses and stickers for your organization or brand. For starters, your company’s staff can use these lenses and stickers for all the updates they put up on TikTok, advertisements or general updates. You can also encourage your clients (who use TikTok) to use the filters and lenses while talking about your brand. This can be a personalized testimonial for your brand that also has your company’s graphical representation in it.

Because TikTok advertising may not yet be available everywhere, this should give an idea of the offerings that’ll be coming to those countries. Let us now look at some of the benefits of TikTok advertising for businesses.

Bid As You Do on Other Channels

Most major social media networks have some type of biddable ad process, usually in the form of a self-serve platform where you can set up and run the ads yourself. In April 2019, TikTok launched a beta of its “managed service platform” which brought TikTok into the biddable ads space. Let us tell you that this is still in the beta stage, which means it needs a lot of updates and reviews. So are you wondering about what does current TikTok advertising model has to offer? Well, there is currently only one ad unit: the standard in-feed video ad. Considering that TikTok is a feed of short video clips, this format makes the most sense, as the platform introduces its user base to ads in-feed. With these in-feed video ads, there are three action models:

  • CPC (cost per click)
  • CPM
  • CPV (cost per view of 6 seconds)

For targeting, TikTok offers age, gender, and state-level geo-targeting, and the company has also promised interest, behavioural, more granular demo targeting over time. There’s currently no official minimum spend requirement, but the company encourages marketers to make an investment large enough to show results and generate actual learnings. You can also create custom audiences, such as CRM lists, and you can white list or blacklist the audiences.

Target People With Varied Interests

One thing that did change with the platform’s growth in popularity is that there is now more variety in the types of videos people share. They are no longer just music. Up and coming comedians performing stand-up routines, skateboarders showcasing their skills, pranksters, dancers, fashion buffs, budding beauticians, and craft fans, all take the chance to share videos demonstrating their talent. And now we are even seeing people sharing videos featuring them using their favourite products. When different kinds of content are put up on this platform, it means that people from different strata and with varied interests will use the app. In other words, when you make the most of TikTok advertising, you are targeting different kinds of people, and not a group of people with a similar interest. This way, your business is exposed to millions of people with distinct thought processes. And you never know which part of your TikTok advertising may trigger people and they may be engaged to buy your product or service. Therefore, you can say that TikTok is an impeccable method to target varied markets.

Create a Social Media Sharing Web

When it comes to sharing any marketing effort, we often think that using social media marketing is one of the best methods. Let’s say you posted a new blog on your website. You first think of sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other channels. This is because social media channels have high chances of taking your blog to a larger set of audience, whether your direct connections or new audience altogether. This is known as creating a social media marketing webwork. The good news is that you can combine all your TikTok advertising efforts with other social media channel. The content that you put up on TikTok can also be shared on other channels while linking back to your TikTok handle. This will get a newer audience to your TikTok handle that you wouldn’t have targeted otherwise. Sharing your content or campaign on other social media platforms will help you widen your audience reach.

Create a Social Media Sharing Web

How to Go About TikTok Advertising?

  1. Open TikTok’s advertising site at https://ads.tiktok.com/. You will see a prompt in the middle of the page which says, “Create an Ad”.
  2. When you click the “Create an Ad” prompt, you will be directed to another landing page where you are required to indicate your demographic profile.
  3. On this page, you will need to indicate where your company is based and the primary purpose of creating an ad on TikTok. Then, click “Next”.
  4. Now complete a form by indicating your contact information such as your name, company name, email address, phone number, company location, industry, and company website.
  5. Finally, submit the information and this will be forwarded to TikTok’s advertising unit.
  6. You will receive a response from TikTok in the email address you indicated.

Another method of running an ad on TikTok is to directly contact TikTok through advertise@tiktok.com. A representative will connect with you to inquire about your advertising needs.

How to Measure Ad Performance

Any ad campaign requires a lot of perseverance and hard work to be successful. And if you go about the process with the right tactics and strategies, you will need a module to measure the performance of your ads. This applies to all social media marketing platforms, even TikTok advertising. You need a tool to measure the engagement, followers, impressions, CTR, video views, and a lot of other metrics. Like other social media platforms have their in-built analytical tools, TikTok has it too – TikTok Analytics. Here’s how you can use the same.

  1. Switch to a TikTok pro account to access TikTok Analytics.
  2. Check the TikTok Analytics profile overview.
  3. Check TikTok Analytics followers data.
  4. Check TikTok Analytics content data.
  5. Analyze other TikTok accounts with pentos.

You can go through all the tabs and options in Analytics and check and note all the necessary information you need. Now with the introduction of TikTok’s native analytics, combined with Pentos’s third-party tool, you can attribute the performance of your content across the platform.

If Gen-Z and young millennials are a target demographic and your brand is not on TikTok, you may be missing out. Start brainstorming and designing your TikTok advertising strategies today. If you think it’s too soon for you to work on TikTok advertising on your own, you can look for an experienced digital marketing firm. When it comes to usual digital marketing strategies, you will come across countless agencies. But if you are looking for assistance for something as the latest trend as TikTok advertising, Rapid Boost Marketing can be your assistance. We are well-versed with all the latest trends and tactics in every walk of digital marketing, including TikTok. So you can be assured that you will surely get the right guidance when you come to us.

Ali Salman is an online marketing strategist who have worked with Coca-Cola, Extreme Pita, Mucho Burrito, KIA, Honda and other Fortune 500 companies. Ali Salman now heads Rapid Boost Marketing - Canada's fastest growing search marketing agency. RBM clients include Fortune 500's and medium size businesses across North America. Ali as RBM CMO leads his team in building and managing quality, high-performing and cost-effective interactive campaigns and programs for our company's customers and partners. In his career, he has significantly improved campaign performance for large brands such as Government of Alberta, Liberal Party, Workopolis, Cathay Pacific, as well as medium to large retailers and high-tech B2B-enterprise niches. Ali and his team develop online promotional concepts that spark viral growth through search and social media for RBM clients, devising strategies that use search engines and more to reach key demographic segments in the ways they're most likely to be receptive. Ali Salman also oversees corporate marketing initiatives for Rapid Boost Marketing, including strategic communications counsel, public and analyst relations and client education programming.

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