November 16, 2023

How To Advertise On TikTok: A Complete Guide To TikTok Ads

How To Advertise On TikTok: A Complete Guide To TikTok Ads

With the right content and audience, a TikTok advertising campaign can be a great boost for your brand.

TikTok has skyrocketed in popularity over the last few years, and many brands are getting in on the fun. This social media platform focuses mainly on entertaining, humorous short-form videos.

While TikTok is well known for viral dance videos and hashtag challenges, it can be a powerful tool for getting your brand in front of millions. And while many brands are adopting TikTok marketing successfully, just as many (and their social media professionals!) are wondering how to advertise on TikTok using the ad system.

Want to know more about how to advertise on TikTok, why you should, and how to get started?

Why Brands Should Consider TikTok Advertising

If you run an engaging brand and have a presence on TikTok, then advertising on the platform could be a lucrative investment for you. With a large international audience and high popularity among young people, it’s an excellent way to get your brand in front of engaged followers.

Worldwide, TikTok boasts 1.2 billion active monthly users. In 2021 alone, the app was downloaded 656 million times.

TikTok is valued at $50 billion USD ($66,761,450,000 AUD) and pulls in $4.6 billion USD ($6,142,053,400 AUD) worth of revenue annually. Consumers reported spending $824.4 million USD ($1,100,762,787.60 AUD) via the app in Q4 of 2021 alone, making TikTok a massive source of potential income for businesses that leverage it well.

Who Would Benefit Most From TikTok Advertising

If you have a highly engaged audience in Gen Z and/or Millennial age ranges, you might want to consider adding TikTok to your advertising strategy.

TikTok is wildly popular among Gen Z and Millennial audiences. If you’re looking to get younger people’s attention on your brand, this is a solid platform to do that on.

According to recent data, 43% of TikTok users worldwide are between the ages of 18 and 24. Users between the ages of 25 and 34 make up 32% of the platform. Just 3.4% of users are over age 55.

How TikTok Ads Work

Setting up TikTok ads is fairly straightforward. The platform offers a “self-serve” TikTok Ads Manager where you can create your ad campaigns.

Ad budgets are based on cost per impression (per view), cost per 1000 views, and sometimes on cost per click. It all comes down to the type of ad campaign you want to run.

Most ad types can be created using this dashboard. We’ll walk you through the process.

(We have also created a handy guide on creating TikTok videos if you need a crash course.)

Types Of TikTok Ads & How Much They Cost

When it comes to TikTok advertising, there are multiple ad formats in a range of costs. Let’s take a look at your options to find out what’s right for you.

In-Feed Ads

In-Feed Ads are the ads you’ll see most often on TikTok.

You’ll likely spot In-Feed ads when you’re scrolling through your For You page. These full-screen ads (with sound enabled) blend right in with the platform’s native content. Sometimes, that makes them nearly indistinguishable from regular videos in the feed.

How To Advertise On TikTok: A Complete Guide To TikTok Ads

The nature of these ads means that your brand can invest in them and continue engaging with the platform in a highly organic way. It’s a great strategy for keeping your sponsored videos consistent in tone and quality with the rest of your TikTok feed posts.

Branded Hashtag Ads

If you’ve been using TikTok for any length of time, you’ve likely encountered a “TikTok challenge” at least once.

These challenges make up the backbone of Branded Hashtag Ads, which are specially designed for encouraging user engagement on the platform.

How To Advertise On TikTok: A Complete Guide To TikTok Ads

When you launch a Branded Hashtag ad campaign on TikTok, you’ll create a video ad with a specifically branded hashtag and a sound you’ll encourage other content creators to use. These types of campaigns often escalate into popular--even viral--trends across the platform.

The user-generated content (UGC) sparked by this ad style can be highly effective for brand awareness. If you want to get more eyes on your brand, then a Branded Hashtag Ad could be perfect for your campaign.

Top View Ads

TikTok’s Top View ads are often the first videos users see when they launch the app. These ads span the app’s entire screen, and they work well for raising brand awareness--especially since they snag your attention from the time you open TikTok.

Top View ads perform well because of their high visibility. Brands that invest in Top View ads enjoy a 67% higher conversion rate than other types of TikTok ads, according to data from the platform.

How To Advertise On TikTok: A Complete Guide To TikTok Ads

Branded Effect Ads

Branded Effect Ads from TikTok function similarly to the filter ads you might see on other social media platforms. Users can use your brand’s augmented reality (AR) effect on the videos they create and post to TikTok.

How To Advertise On TikTok: A Complete Guide To TikTok Ads

Rather than focusing on conversions or pushing traffic out to your product or service, the purpose of a Branded Effect Ad is to raise brand awareness. You’ll boost engagement with your brand through the excellent UGC your audience creates over the life of the campaign.

Spark Ads

TikTok’s newest ad format is the Spark Ad. If you’re interested in using UGC and organic content as part of your TikTok ad campaign, this could be a strong option for you.

Spark Ads are similar to boosted content on platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. Set a budget for content you’ve already created and published on the platform, then sponsor the post.

How To Advertise On TikTok: A Complete Guide To TikTok Ads

When you create a TikTok Spark Post, you’ll use your ad to send users to either your profile or the off-platform URL of your choice. If you’re driving users to your website, landing page, or email sign-up form, that’s the URL you’ll want to include.

How To Advertise On TikTok: A Complete Guide To TikTok Ads

Don’t forget to get approvals from the original creators if you plan to use UGC for your Spark Ads.

TikTok Ad Costs

The cost of any given TikTok ad campaign is challenging to predict or quantify. There are some basic baseline rates we can go by, though.

Generally speaking, Branded Hashtag Ads and Branded Effect Ads are the most expensive TikTok ad options. According to AdAge, these ad types can cost anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000 USD ($66,761.45 to $200,284.35 AUD).

To run other types of TikTok ads, brands need to pay a minimum of $26.70 AUD per day, per ad group. It’s possible for costs per action to average between $0.27 and $2.67.

Depending on the type of ad campaign you select, the duration of the campaign, the market, and the bid you submit, your costs will vary. Because of the possibility of wide cost variations, it’s difficult to land on a simplistic answer.  

TikTok Ads Rates Are Fluctuate & Involve Bids

Like most social media ads, TikTok advertising functions on a bidding system. If you want to know how to advertise on Tiktok, that's an important thing to know.

Brands that submit higher bids on cost per impression will win ad placements. For example, if your brand has a budget of $1 per view but your competitor can pay $2, then your competitor’s ad gets preference.

If the market you’re advertising to is a competitive one, then you’ll be up against other brands like yours, bidding on the same audiences and ad placements. A competitive market will inevitably drive up the cost per impression, meaning the overall campaign will cost more, too.

TikTok is known for having more costly advertising than other social media platforms. Luckily, it’s possible to set either a daily budget lifetime budget for your campaign.

Let’s say you want to keep your ad campaign budget under $500 AUD for the lifetime of the ad. If you set that budget while building your campaign, you’ll never go over that amount.

Through the ad management dashboard, users can opt to let TikTok help them optimise their bidding, but that means your campaign could break your anticipated budget. It’s possible to put a cap on your bid or to ask the platform to optimise for the lowest possible cost.

Remember that when it comes to marketing, you get what you pay for. If you set a cap for your bid, it’s possible that your campaign may not yield the results you’re hoping to achieve.

How To Advertise On TikTok: Campaign Creation

Now, let’s take a look at how to create an ad campaign on TikTok.

1. Open a new browser window and head over to From there, log in to your TikTok account. You’ll notice that the site offers multiple login options, so pick the one that works best for you.

How To Advertise On TikTok: A Complete Guide To TikTok Ads

2. Once you’ve set up your account and entered your billing information, the ads manager will prompt you to choose between Simplified Mode and Custom Mode.

Simplified Mode will allow you to quickly and easily create an ad, but with more limited options. Custom Mode offers a more advanced user experience.

How To Advertise On TikTok: A Complete Guide To TikTok Ads

For the purposes of this article, I selected the simplified mode.

3. Now, you’ll be prompted to select your goal for this campaign. You can:

  • Connect with customers
  • Get website visits
  • Generate customer leads
  • Drive conversions (which will require using Custom Mode)

Once you’ve decided on your goal, click Continue.

4. Next, decide who should see your ad. TikTok can choose an audience automatically, or you can set audience demographics up manually. Narrow your audience by gender, age, interests, behaviour, and language.

You can also choose whether to only show your ad on TikTok, or on Pangle and News Feed App Series.

Click Continue when you’re ready.

5. Now, set your budget. The dashboard prompts me to enter a budget of at least $5 USD per day ($6.68 AUD).

Set target start and end dates. Alternatively, you can opt to start with no specific end date.

6. Next, it’s time to set up your ad. You can upload an image or video. But, you can also select an existing video from your feed.

7. When you select a video, TikTok will show you an ad preview and prompt you to set up your text, including ad name, display name, URL, and CTA.

Once you’re satisfied with your preview, click Submit. That’s it!

Pros & Cons Of TikTok Advertising

If you’re thinking about TikTok advertising, there are some pros and cons to consider. Let’s take a look.

TikTok Advertising Pros

As far as advertising goes, it never hurts to have a new platform where you can reach your audience members. That’s especially true for users who are spending more time on TikTok than on other platforms like Facebook or Instagram.

TikTok has a highly engaged audience, and users check in regularly. In fact, users report averaging 52 minutes every day on the app. A whopping 90% of TikTok users open the app more than once a day.

According to data from GWI (as shared via Sprout Social), 30% of Gen Z users would rather do product research on TikTok than on other platforms. If you’re showcasing your product via TikTok ads and your target audience is part of Gen Z, they might be more likely to see it on TikTok than on another platform.

If you’re planning to partner with influencers as part of your overall marketing strategy, you can’t overlook influencer engagement rates on TikTok versus other platforms. Data from Influencer Marketing Hub indicates that micro-influencers on TikTok average a 17.96% engagement rate, as opposed to 3.86% and 1.63% on Instagram and YouTube, respectively.

TikTok Advertising Cons

While the pros of TikTok advertising are strong, there are some cons to be aware of, too. For example, you’re limited to what types of content you can create.

TikTok is a platform driven by short-form video content shot on and optimised for mobile phones. Its most viral videos tend to be energetic, entertaining, and humorous.

Because of the content’s general tone, TikTok is only going to appeal to a niche audience. It won’t be right for all brands. If your brand is a law firm that offers assistance to corporate brands, it isn’t likely to fit well in the TikTok ecosystem.

Production times for video content, captions, and closed captioning can take time. To do well on TikTok, you need engaging video--more than just an image or slideshow. Costs can add up quickly, so be mindful of the time, materials, and money you’ll need to succeed.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to advertise on TikTok, it’s time to get started. Focus on creating engaging, fun, and educational content that’s high quality and fits your brand style.

Don’t forget to review the TikTok advertising guidelines for your region. You can find guidelines for Australia and New Zealand here.

Ready to turbocharge your TikTok growth? Check out our live interview with TikTok expert Tina Pik here.

Jonathon Tanner

Jonathon Tanner

Co-CEO and Co-Founder

Co-CEO and Co-Founder of SMC, earned Social Media Educator of the Year from SMMI. With vast experience in social media strategy and content marketing, he's also a co-founder of other businesses. Specialising in growth strategy, Jon has a background in management consulting specialising in M&A.

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