Brent Barnhart
February 9, 2020

How to Advertise on TikTok

TikTok ads are coming soon to Australia! Will you be ready for them? Our latest guide breaks down everything you need to know about advertising on TikTok.

Marketers have been waiting for “the next big thing” in social for what feels like forever now.
And then TikTok entered the chat.
With billions of downloads and an ever-growing community of zoomers and influencers, the platform is poised to be one of the biggest social media trends of 2020.
All of this hype begs some big questions for brands and marketers, though.
Is TikTok a viable place to advertise? Is it too early to get on board?

With the release of their self-serve ad platform due to be released in early 2020, more and more marketers are rightfully looking to wrap their heads around TikTok’s advertising potential.
This guide breaks down the basics of how to advertise on TikTok, including a rundown of what paid promotion looks like and what brands need to know before they get started.

How Does TikTok’s Advertising Platform Work?

As of February 2020, TikTok’s ad platform is currently restricted to certain regions but will be coming soon to Australia.
However, we already have the lowdown of what TikTok’s backend looks like.
The short answer? It looks a lot like Facebook’s ad platform with similar features such as custom audiences, a tracking Pixel and goal-centric campaigns.
And so if you’ve run Facebook campaigns in the past, figuring out how to advertise on TikTok should be pretty straightforward. If not, we’ll highlight the essentials in plain English.

Audience and Targeting Options

Much like Facebook Custom Audiences, TikTok allows advertisers to create audiences that serve ads to any combination of the following:
  • Customers on your email list (or any other sort of customer file)

  • Customers who’ve downloaded or purchased your app

  • Visitors to your website

  • TikTok users who have interacted with your content
Beyond custom audiences, TikTok lets you drill down to target specific demographics such as location and age. 
As noted, advertisers can set up a TikTok Pixel on their landing pages to track visitor behaviors and set conversion goals. This includes actions such as filling out a form or adding an item to a shopping cart. TikTok’s Pixel can be set up manually or through Google Tag Manager.
Speaking of goals, TikTok’s platform currently focuses on the following three campaign objectives:
  • Traffic, pointing TikTok users to your website and/or custom landing page
  • App Installs, pushing users to the app store or download-specific landing page
  • Conversions, including product purchases and downloads from your site (note: this requires the setup and testing of the TikTok Pixel)
Oh, and TikTok boasts in-depth reporting to dig into your campaign performance. This is a must-have for marketers looking to highlight results on behalf of brands and clients alike.

Ad Placement Options

TikTok’s ads can be served natively either via the “Recommendations” feed or “For you” feed.
For the full-screen “For you” ads, a download card and call-to-action are presented to users after nine seconds.
Depending on your region and preferences, ads can also be served on peripheral platforms and content aggregators within TikTok’s network. This includes BuzzVideo, TopBuzz, NewsRepublic and Babe. Such ads can be placed automatically by TikTok or selected manually.

TikTok Ad Specs

To wrap up the technical piece of how to advertise on TikTok, here’s a quick summary of specs for the platform’s video ads.
Aspect Ratio: 1:1, 9:16 or 19:9
Resolution: 720 x 1280px, 640 x 640px or 1280 x 720px
File Type: .mp4, .mov, .mpeg, .3gp, .avi
Duration: 5 to 60 seconds (recommended 9 to 15 seconds)
Bitrate: ≥ 516kps
File Size: ≤500MB
Ad Description: 12 to 100 English characters
You can’t just slap any random landscape video on TikTok and call it a day. If you want to double-dip your video marketing content, make sure that you optimize it based on TikTok’s recommendations.

What Kinds of Ads Can I Run on TikTok?

Before you even think about advertising on TikTok, it’s crucial to understand the platform and its organic content.
Hint: make sure to read our introduction to TikTok if you haven’t already!
Unlike Facebook, Instagram or even Snapchat, TikTok currently retains a sort of “it” factor because it isn’t swarming with ads or brands at the moment.
Translation? The closer your ads are to organic content, the better.
Memes. Lighthearted content.
Ads that don’t feel like, well, ads.
These are the sorts of messages that are going to resonate with a younger audience.
We recommend spending some time reviewing the sorts of content that score high engagement rates. Specifically, check out how brands are building buzz via organic content (Chipotle and Gushers, for example).
Let’s say you understand the platform’s best practices, though. Below are some TikTok ad examples and a snapshot of the current advertising options available.

Influencer ads

The popularity of Influencers is well-documented and TikTok is no exception. Denoted by an “#ad” tag, partnering with an influencer is a proven way to appeal to younger buyers and get your products in front of some fresh faces who aren’t already following you.

Hashtag Challenge

Simply put, user-generated content is the cornerstone of TikTok. The platform’s audience is more than happy to boost a hashtag, especially if it means more exposure for their own personal brands.
For example, Guess’ #inmydenim challenge campaign resulted in buzz from paid influencers and organic users alike.
Whereas it might be difficult to get a hashtag trending on your own, the nature of TikTok encourages users to organically participate in challenges and shout-out trends.


Also noted in our 2020 social media trends breakdown, lenses and filters using AR are all-the-rage right now. For ads, brands can encourage followers to create content using a custom filter in exchange for a shout-out or prize.

In-feed Video

In-feed video ads appear as organic content at a glance but provide a custom call-to-action (such as an app download). These full-screen ads are akin to a Facebook Experience or Canvas ad, taking over a user’s screen to grab their attention.

Brand Takeover

These full-screen ads are similar to in-feed video, although they pop up when a user first logs into TikTok. These can be presented as static images or .GIFs.
And with that, we wrap up our guide on how to advertise on TikTok!

Could TikTok Ads Be a Good Fit for Your Company?

TikTok is cementing itself as a staple of social media, especially among the younger crowd.
With TikTok’s advertising platform slowly but surely rolling out to new territories, now is arguably the best time to understand what it’s capable of.
And if nothing else, this is a prime time to reflect on how you plan to use TikTok organically in 2020.
If you have any questions about TikTok or social ads in general, make sure to get in touch with Hello Social today to see how we can help.

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