How to Get Started with TikTok Ads

Everything you need to know about setting up tiktok ads. From types of tiktok ads to how to run them, this blog post covers off on the basics of paid advertising on tiktok.

Monica Makropoulos
min read
How to Get Started with TikTok Ads
Table of contents:

With 1 billion monthly active users, TikTok has engagement unlike any other social app with users spending an average of 81 minutes in the app per day.Aside from implementing an organic presence, we’re often asked what advertising formats are currently available for brands. You came to the right place! Let us break it down for you.

TikTok is a fresh and unique opportunity for marketers. An immersive sound-on entertainment platform with untapped potential. - TikTok
@asubtlerevelry for Fruit by the Foot & Gushers

TikTok Advertising Overview

Why Advertise on TikTok?

One of the benefits of advertising on TikTok is the ability to reach a new audience of users who may not be on other platforms. For example, 40% of TikTok users are not on Instagram.

There are currently five advertising formats available: TopView, Brand Takeover, In-Feed Video, Hashtag Challenge and Branded Effect.

Types of TikTok Ads

There are a few different types of TikTok ads brands can take advantage of, and while it might feel overwhelming, we’ve created a quick guide that gives you the basics to get started.

TikTok is a unique mobile platform where people can showcase their creative talents or enjoy short form videos that entertain them. For brands, this means there’s a lot of untapped potential for reaching consumers. All content, even ad content, is diverse, relatable and unexpected–there’s always something to brighten everyone’s day.

Let’s dive in!

1) Top View TikTok ad

What: Upfront premium placement for sound-on storytelling reaching the entire audience.

  • 100% SOV for the day
  • 5-60 seconds video with auto-play, sound on (optimized for 15 seconds)

Bonus Tip: These ads average a 16-18% CTR.

Check out an example here.

2) Brand Takeover TikTok ad

What: A full-screen splash page to amplify your brand message.

  • 100% SOV for the day
  • 3-second image or 3-5 second video (sound off)
  • Entire ad is clickable

Bonus Tip: These ads average a 7-10% CTR.

Check out an example here.

3) In-Feed Video TikTok ad

Advertisers can create in-feed video ads that are inserted into the personalized feed of users. In-Feed video can run against the reach, traffic, app installs, video views, or conversion objectives.There are a couple different ways to tap into this ad placement–”Auction” and “Reservation.

What: In-Feed videos are the easiest way into the most engaging experience on mobile.

Auction: Self-service platform with full flexibility.

Tell me more:

  • Hands-on - Gives you access to manage and control the campaign
  • Cost efficient - bid on CPC, oCPC, CPM and CPV
  • Trackable - 1st and 3rd party tracking capabilities
  • Flexible - swap creatives, run testing scenarios and split test
  • Robust targeting - Demo, devices, location, 1st-party interest based, custom audiences and retargeting
  • Timing - Up to 60 seconds

Reservation: Turnkey managed service with impressions guaranteed.

Tell me more:

  • White glove service from dedicated TikTok team
  • Impression delivery guaranteed with $10 CPM
  • Supports internal and external landing pages
  • Target by demo, geo, device and basic interest levels
  • CTA button included with 26 different call-to-actions

Bonus Tip: It’s a creative-first algorithm. Plan to create multiple pieces of content for testing.

Check out an example here.

4) TikTok Hashtag Challenge ads

What: An engaging space to generate mass exposure.

  • Multiple in-app placements to promote engagement
  • CTA button to drive incremental traffic
  • Retargeting capabilities to re-engage audience participants

Bonus Tip: This ad option is very custom to TikTok!

Check out an example here.

5) Branded Effect TikTok ads

What: Visual branding element to drive stronger recall and engagement.

  • Ability to develop standalone campaign or integrate into Hashtag Challenge
  • Clickable effect can drive to external landing page
  • Powered by intelligent video recognition tech
  • 20+ gesture and facial expressions applicable to trigger an effect

Bonus Tip: Branded Effects can be compared to Snapchat filters and lenses. They create an interactive, fun experience for the user.

Recommended Reading: 16 Successful TikTok Case Studies [+Actionable Takeaways]

How to Run TikTok ads

Now that we’re familiar with the types of ads, let’s discuss how to actually set them up. In order to begin advertising on TikTok, you must visit the TikTok Ads home page and create a TikTok Ads account. Here are the steps:

  • Go to
  • Click on “Get Started” in top right corner
  • On the next page, select your country from dropdown and choose whether you’re a business promoting goods and services or an individual promoting a personal website/page
  • Sign up with email or phone number and create password
  • Agree to terms and provide some more information
  • Click “register” to complete your registration!

In addition to working with TikTok directly, brands can also work with a third-party, such as From Popular Pays, to help facilitate the content creation and ads management process for you. From Popular Pays can connect brands with creators to develop TikTok content and amplify it with paid spend.

Setting up TikTok ads

Once your account is ready to rock and roll, the process of setting up TikTok ads is fairly seamless. Before advertising, it may be helpful to understand how TikTok Ads Manager organizes campaigns and assets within the platform. Understanding the entire structure will help with choosing your TikTok ad goal.

The TikTok Ads Manager has a three-tier structure: Campaign, Ad Groups and Ads (as seen below).

source: TikTok

Campaign Level:

You select the objective you would like the campaign to optimize for:

  • Reach (Select if you’re driving awareness)
  • Traffic (Select if you want to send your target audience to a specific online destination)
  • App installs (Select if you want to increase app downloads/sign ups)
  • Video views (Select if the goal is for your audience to watch an entire video)
  • Conversions (Select if you want to drive sales)

At this step, you will also set up the campaign budget and name. The budget threshold allows you to control the campaign spending. TikTok is an incredible platform made up of an amazing audience and wonderful creators across different geographic regions and demographics. That being said, it’s crucial to know your TikTok ads KPIs and your campaign objective should correlate directly with your ad KPIs.For example, if the campaign’s objective is reach, the ad will optimize towards driving as many impressions as possible. If the campaign’s objective is traffic, the ad will optimize for driving clicks to an online destination.

Focus on one KPI at a time and make sure your ad’s creative correlates directly with the goal.

Ad Groups:

Ad Groups can be thought of as a bucket for specific ads in your campaign. You can have multiple ad groups in each campaign–They’ll all share the same ad placements, schedule, optimizations, bid options and audiences. Speaking of audiences, let’s dive into selecting your TikTok ad targeting.


Ads are the creative assets–videos, images, and texts that are displayed to the user within the platform. You can have multiple ads in each ad group.

Select your TikTok ad Targeting

When starting a new campaign, it’s recommended to keep targeting broad and optimize after the campaign is live. Here are various targeting features:

  • Demographic Targeting: TikTok provides age, gender and geographic targeting as granular as the state level.
  • Language: Language is available to match your location targeting. It’s recommended to keep language broad.
  • Device Targeting: Operation system, connection type and carriers are available.
  • Interest Categories: TikTok provides 50 interest categories and sub categories, including, Education, Beauty, Apparel, News, Games and much more.
  • Custom Audiences: TikTok provides the option to include or exclude custom audiences in your ad groups. Use an existing CRM list to reach specific customers.

Measuring TikTok ads

Now that we know a bit more about the ad structure, setting up an ad and all of its components, let’s drive into measurement.

TikToks Ads Manager offers a few ways to monitor the performance of your campaign. Here are the different ways to review data in the dashboard:

Within the auction platform: You can view campaign information by clicking on the “Campaign” page. From there, click on “View Data” under the campaign name to review the average bid cost for your selected objective. You can modify this to view data within a specific time period or de-select tags to get a broad view of the campaign by total investment.

source: TikTok

Within the “reporting” page on the auction platform: From this page, you can create reports using pre-defined templates or develop a custom report using campaign settings such as demographic data or Product ID. You can save any report created to make it easily accessible for the future. You can also export the report to a spreadsheet for further analysis.

source: TikTok

Pro tip: Another handy feature within the reporting section is the ability to schedule reports to run automatically on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. It’s a great option if you regularly run the same report!

Keep in mind, content diversity and creativity are rewarded on TikTok, making it important to constantly iterate creative combinations. Refresh your creative and continue reviewing results to understand what works best for your brand.

Use Your Own Data to Benchmark Your TikTok ad Performance

After you begin reviewing data, use your own brand’s ad performance and compare it to industry benchmarks and averages. Additionally, consider using custom audiences and lookalike audiences to get even more granular insights. Let’s review:

Custom Audience: Custom Audience is a feature that allows you to engage with audiences on TikTok that may match audiences from your own data sources or have engaged with you in the past. By leveraging this feature, you can integrate this audience data into your ad campaigns to really ensure you’re getting the right message in front of the right person at the right time. Custom audiences can include:

  • Customer list
  • Website traffic using a TikTok pixel
  • Engagement (people who have viewed of clicked on your ad)
  • App activity (people who downloaded your app or took specific actions)

Lookalike Audience: A way to target audiences on TikTok that may be similar to your existing audience from your own data sets. Some ways to use lookalike audience:

  • Target users who have similar characteristics to your clients
  • Expand your reach and find new customers
  • Build off previous successes

Evaluate Your TikTok ad ROI

TikTok and shopify joined forces so brands can more easily measure ROI as it relates to influencer content on TikTok. What does this mean? Brands can launch In-Feed shoppable video ads directly within Shopify.How does it work? From Shopify– “Merchants select which product they would like to feature, and video ads are automatically generated that drive to their Shopify stores for checkout. Ready-made templates designed specifically for commerce mean merchants of any size can take advantage of the TikTok channel using their existing imagery or video.”

TikTok ad Examples

Curious to see what other brands are doing on TikTok? Let’s take a look at some examples.


Here’s how Olly partnered with From Popular Pays to test content on TikTok.


Curious about understanding how to engage with their audience in a new way, Olly was interested in testing content on TikTok. New to TikTok, Olly needed a trusted partner to help them find the right TikTok creatives, efficiently produce TikTok content and easily track TikTok analytics.


With From Popular Pays recent TikTok integration and expertise in the ever-changing social industry, Olly set themselves up for success. Olly used the Pop Pays platform to source the right TikTok creatives, develop their TikTok assets, track performance, and even repurpose the content across other social channels.


Pop Pays’ TikTok integration made it easy for Olly to test the new platform without having to execute operations manually. And as a result, the brand received 13 creative concepts, garnered over 1 million total video views and achieved a 18.5% engagement rate. Learn more about their campaign here.

Additionally, the video compilation below provides numerous examples for all the various ad formats. Give it a watch–it will help bring everything we've discussed full circle! Don’t make ads, make TikToks! TikTok is on a mission to inspire creativity and bring joy, and there are many opportunities to do that via advertising on the platform.

We’re here to help create content, partner with influencers and facilitate paid promotions on TikTok. Contact [email protected] to get started!

Monica Makropoulos
Monica leads the Creative Strategy team and brings social expertise, client experience and positive pep to her work daily.

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