TikTok has quickly become one of the fastest-growing and most popular social media platforms in the world. With over one billion monthly active users who watch around 24 hours of content on the app each month, the app has proven itself to be a popular tool for businesses to find and connect with audiences of all niches via short video clips.
Whichever industry or sector your business is in — whether it’s health and fitness, fashion and beauty, food and drink or even home renovation and DIY to name but a few — there’s a global audience of potential customers waiting to discover your brand and content.
TikTok has established itself as an authoritative platform when it comes to trend-setting, creating viral products and driving sales for retailers of all sizes amongst Gen Z and Millennial shoppers. A whopping 49% of users said TikTok helped them make purchase decisions in 2021, and its influence on shoppers’ behaviour shows no signs of slowing down.
TikTok introduced its self-service advertising to all businesses in the summer of 2020 and since then it has been developing its offering quickly, allowing it to compete with other established channels like Meta.
We’re therefore going to explore some of the fundamental basics of getting started with advertising on TikTok, as well as some top tips for getting it right.
Getting started with TikTok advertising
Your first priority should be getting your business set up with an organic TikTok account, using the explore page to see what content is performing well within your niche or industry by searching for relevant hashtags. You should also use this time to research what your competitors are doing on TikTok, learning from both their organic content as well as any relevant ads that pop up.
Next up is getting your business set up on both TikTok Ads Manager and TikTok Business Centre.
TikTok Ads Manager has all the tools you need to create, manage, and track your TikTok ad campaigns. The Business Centre enables you to centralise your assets (such as your Ads Manager) and teams in one place, and is typically used when you have more than one person to activate your activities on TikTok.
If you’re an eCommerce business, we’d also recommend that you set up a product catalogue in TikTok’s Store Manager, which will allow you to tag your products in your content.
When starting your TikTok ad journey, be sure you get your TikTok Pixel set up. This piece of code is a powerful measurement tool that tracks your TikTok ads' impact on your website, allowing you to monitor sales, user activity, and find the right audience for your ads. To assist with implementation, there are partner integrations such as Google Tag Manager, Shopify and BigCommerce, which means in a lot of cases, tracking is just a click away!
It’s important to note that once the tracking Pixel has been set up, we’d recommend you “season” it before running campaigns to drive sales. For example, running a website traffic campaign or Conversions optimised for a product page view. You can’t expect immediate results on this platform because your account will not be immediately optimised to understand your product offering and audience. And it doesn’t have years and years of user data and behaviours like Meta does!
Building your Pixel’s remarketing audience will help TikTok learn more about who engages with your product or service. Just give it some time and let it get to know you, your business and your audiences better before you rush to change ad campaigns.
With that being said, attribution can be tough on TikTok. Initially, we only had single-window attribution, which meant that customers had to click on the ad and check out in the same session to get credit. As a result of recent updates, we're now able to extend click-through attribution up to 28 days, and view-through attribution up to 7 days!
This underreporting is part of a wider issue in the digital marketing ecosystem. We know that today’s path to purchase can’t be simplified to one unanimous process for all shoppers - in fact, we now refer to it as the ‘Messy Hexagon’, rather than the more traditional ‘Sales Funnel’. The digital landscape has, and continues, to change the way we shop, and so it’s important to think about the big picture when it comes to developing, tracking and reporting on your marketing activity.
Creating ad campaigns on TikTok
TikTok structures its advertising functions in three levels: Campaign, Ad Groups, Ads. A campaign is an overall activity, while ad groups and ads are the functions within a campaign.
When it comes to setting up your campaign objectives, you can choose from a range of KPIs depending on what your marketing goal is, with options under three categories: awareness, consideration, or conversions. These include: Reach, Traffic, App Installs, Video Views, Lead Generation, Conversions and Catalogue Sales.
As with any social advertising platform, it’s important to ensure that your ad content and Call To Action is tailored to the relevant objective, and aligns with various stages of the customer journey.
With 30% of Gen Z’ers prefer using TikTok for product research, campaign creatives using informative product reviews may be more likely to drive awareness and sales than a video using a trending sound, even though it may receive less overall views or reach. This is why your objectives and content plan must be aligned in order to maximise the impact of each ad - your creative strategy is just as important as your targeting strategy!
While you can run your ads exclusively on TikTok, but you will also have access to TikTok’s other apps—BuzzVideo, TopBuzz, NewsRepublic, and Babe, as well as its own Audience Network option named Pangle.
It is possible to use automatic ad placements, which is where TikTok uses its system to optimise your ad delivery across the apps listed above to reach more people, in the same way you can on platforms like Meta. However, we’d recommend selecting TikTok-only if you’re looking for more control over where your video ends up. We tested auto-placements for a client and saw an influx of traffic from Asia on their website. While this would work for some clients looking to expand into the APAC market, it is not ideal for a client who has a site that’s suited to the UK or Europe only.
You can also choose whether or not to use Automated Creative Optimisation, in which TikTok automatically generates combinations of your images, videos, and ad text. The ad system will then only show the best-performing ones. This is great for newbies looking to dip their toe in the water, and learn what their customers best engage with.
Alternatively, if you’re a pro (like us), you can set up your creative ad at the ads stage, as you would on other platforms. TikTok's creative partners include Vimeo and Canva, meaning you can create engaging ads using hundreds of pre-existing templates.
How much does TikTok advertising cost?
The minimum daily spend for ads on TikTok is £20, and you can expect a Click through Rate of between 3% and 12%. In the UK the average cost-per-click is around 15p (and as low as 2p, demanding on the campaign!). CPMs, cost per 1000 people reached, can be under £1, making TikTok ads a very affordable option when compared to other media.
Top tips for creating impactful TikTok Ad Creative
When using interest or demographic targeting on TikTok, do remember that these are inferred from user behaviour (it doesn’t carry as much customer data as platforms like Meta). This means that high-impact creatives are key for grabbing a scroller’s attention and getting results with paid social campaigns.
However, TikTok is not like other social media platforms where high-quality production videos have reigned supreme in the past. Paid Social content has moved naturally towards lo-fi content following the same shift in approaches to organic content, with TikTok leading the way.
Instead, raw, authentic content mainly shot on a phone with good lighting proves much more popular. In fact, recent studies have shown that 56% of users and 67% of creators on TikTok feel closer to brands that publish unfiltered, human content. Even the social platform advocates a different approach to advertising to their users, having adopted the strapline “Don’t make ads, make TikToks.”
Here are some top tips on creating engaging, impactful TikTok ad creative that engages viewers and stops them scrolling on their For You Page.
Make every second count
Timing is key when it comes to creating impactful, engaging TikTok ads. In fact, one in four top-performing TikTok videos are between 21-34 seconds long, so try to create videos around that length of time. If they’re too long, you risk your viewer getting bored and scrolling onto the next video. Studies also show that more than half of all the TikTok videos with the highest clickthrough rate (CTR) highlight their key message or product within the first 3 seconds, so bear that in mind in the video development and editing phases.
Use the right ratio and resolution
When advertising anywhere, we recommend you stick to the guidelines set by the platform in order to maximise the performance of your ad. On TikTok, it can be make or break. Make sure you use a 9:16 aspect ratio, which has shown to have a 91% lift in conversions when compared to videos not formatted to the screen. Additionally, the quality of your video has a dramatic effect on the success of your post. Be sure you shoot all footage with a video resolution of 720p or higher, which has shown to have a 312% lift on conversions vs footage shot in other resolutions.
Use music or trending sounds
Audio is a must when it comes to TikTok. Not only is there a 16% increase in impressions when compared to videos with no audio, it also opens up a wealth of opportunities when it comes to jumping on trending sounds and songs, helping to not only get your ad in front of a wider audience but also come across as current and relevant to audiences.
Use User Generated Content in your ads
If you’ve got people making content reviewing your products, or simply unboxing them, you can use their videos as a part of your ad campaigns. It’s a great trust signal for customers to see products in action via real people rather than getting a “hard sell” from the company.
Spark ads allow your brand to boost organic content from your own account or from other users. This means that not only can you promote your top-performing organic posts, but easily use UGC as part of your advertising strategy. TikTok research shows Spark Ads have a 24% higher completion rate and 142% higher engagement rate than standard In-Feed ads.
Use Reverse Storytelling and put your CTA at the beginning
Be sure you rally your audience to act with a clear Call To Action in your ad, don’t waste the opportunity of holding a scroller’s attention! Align your CTAs with your campaign objectives, and then clearly state it within the first 3-10 seconds. TikTok reports that a clear CTA has a 152% lift in conversions when compared to videos without them.
While you’re finding your feet and seeking out your audiences, try various ad styles and creative ideas to see what works best for you and your audiences, learning from what doesn’t perform well too. Split testing is a brilliant way to dissect your ad successes and failures, helping to better understand your audiences and plan for future campaigns.
If you’re struggling to come up with some ideas, and need some inspiration, TikTok shares a selection of the top-performing ads regularly here. We also have an entire blog dedicated to levelling up your Paid Social creative, for tips and tricks on making ads that stand out.
How can brands utilise shopping functionalities on TikTok?
Over the years, eCommerce opportunities within social media platforms have been on the rise - and TikTok is no exception.
In the same way that you can do with Meta, you can now connect your products catalogue directly to TikTok, bringing your virtual shop window one step closer to potential customers. Similarly, you can also tag one or multiple products in an organic post, giving shoppers the opportunity to find and buy entire outfits or bundles should they want to.
The in-app shopping functionality is especially useful for all you Shopify users out there, as the process has been made super simple with the help of the TikTok app in Shopify. Set-up, management and monitoring couldn’t be simpler!
But not to worry if your business or brand uses a different eCommerce platform, as TikTok has steadily been extending its partnerships to include Square, Ecwid and PrestaShop.
Now, TikTok users can instantly browse through your products without leaving the app, and have a one-click button directly to your online store for a quick and easy checkout.
In fact, they can even do so in real time, with TikTok’s Live Shopping functionality. Much like TV shopping channels such as QVC, live shopping on TikTok offers users the opportunity to see products showcased by creators in real time and purchase them on the spot. This has proved incredibly popular in Asia over recent years, with the social commerce model now a rising trend in the Western world.
Live shopping presents an opportunity for your brand or business to partner with TikTok creators relevant to your industry and popular with your target audiences to leverage their followings. This new wave of influencers can promote your products in real time, encouraging their followers to make purchases based on their authentic opinions of the brand. You could even sweeten the deal with a time-limited discount offer exclusive to the live stream, forcing shoppers to act fast! Return rates are 50% lower when a product is bought off a live stream compared to traditional eCommerce channels, and so it’s well worth exploring the in-app functionality as a part of your marketing strategy.
Ultimately, like with most new ventures, the important thing when it comes to advertising on TikTok is to experiment and be bold, discovering what works and doesn’t work for you and your customers.
If you’re still not sure where to begin when it comes to TikTok ads, or want some help with your existing strategy, our team of paid social media experts are on hand with a wealth of ideas and learnings.