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How To Create Awesome TikTok Ads [Step-By-Step]

Last Updated April 26, 2021

TikTok’s easy-to-consume video content is being watched by millions of people every day from all around the globe — and it’s relatively simple to understand why there’s growing popularity for TikTok ads. And if you've been keeping up with the news, video content is the future of digital marketing.

If you’re curious about advertising on TikTok but don’t know where to start, then we’ve got you covered! We’ve done the dirty work for you (we mean research), and put together this guide to give you all the things you need to understand TikTok ads like never before.

TikTok’s Advertising Structure

Understanding how campaigns are structured can help you set up better target audiences, design better materials, and spend your budget effectively. TikTok allows you to organize your ads using three levels: campaigns, ad groups, and ads.

  • Campaigns: You will need to define your campaigns with an objective and a budget. Under a campaign, you will find one or more ad groups. 
  • Ad groups: You will need to define ad groups with ad placements, target audiences, budget, and schedule. Under an ad group, you will find one or more ads. 
  • Ads: You will need to create video content ads to reach your target audience for your ad groups.

These levels will help you in expanding your reach, improving your ad’s overall performance, and achieving your goals. But, first things first — to get started advertising on TikTok, you will need to have a TikTok For Business account. 

Setting up a TikTok Ads account

1: Visit the TikTok Ads homepage

Click Get Started once you’re on the TikTok Ads homepage.

TikTok for Business landing page

2: Fill out the form for your business details

You must provide your business details because your account has to be approved by a TikTok representative before you can start creating your ads.

Create TikTok for business account

3: Wait for a TikTok representative to reach out

Once you’re done filling out the form, a representative will get in touch with you within 48 hours to set up your account.

Note: TikTok Ads is currently only available in certain regions (other than the USA) but you will be able to sign up for a TikTok ad account directly if you’re located in India, Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, or Thailand.

Setting up a Campaign

1: Create an ad campaign

You will have access to the TikTok Ads dashboard once your TikTok advertising account is up and running. Click on the Campaign button at the top of the page and then click Create

Create TikTok ad campaign

2: Choose the right advertising objective

  • Traffic: Send more people to access your website or app.
  • App Installs: Get more people to download your app.
  • Conversion: Drive valuable actions on your website.

Note: You may have more options available to you depending on where you’re located.

TikTok advertising objective

3: Set a campaign name and budget

The campaign budget is unlimited with a minimum of $50 by default. But, of course, you can set a daily or lifetime budget limit. This means that your ad groups will stop once you've reached your spending limit.

What’s the difference between daily and lifetime budget? Setting a lifetime budget would allow your ad campaign to reach as many people and as soon as possible. A daily budget, on the other hand, would allow your ad campaign to steadily penetrate your target market over a certain period.

TikTok settings

Setting up an Ad Group

After setting up a campaign, ad groups come next.

1: Placement

To get the best results among international audiences, choose Automatic Placement. Doing so will allow your ad to appear on TikTok partner apps including BuzzVideo (Japan), TopBuzz (US and BR), Babe (Indonesia), and the News Republic which, as result, will reach more people and drive more traffic.

TikTok placement types

If you choose Select Placement, you can manually choose where your ads appear.

Tiktok placements

2: Ad Details 

Depending on your campaign objective, you can choose from two promotional types: app install or website. Some campaign objectives set this by default.

  • URL: Enter the URL of the website page with UTM tags for tracking the effectiveness of your ad in Google Analytics.
  • TikTok Pixel: The TikTok pixel is needed to optimize your ad. If the pixel is already installed on the site, select it from the list. If there is no pixel yet, create one.
  • Display Name: This will be displayed in your ad as your brand identity.
  • Profile Image: The profile image will be shown to your audience as part of the ad. The image aspect ratio must be 1:1 and no more than 50 KB.
  • Category: Select an ad category that describes your promotion. 
  • Ad Tags: Describe your app or website with specific keywords. TikTok's algorithms will use your tags (maximum of 20) to show your ads to your target audience.
  • User Comment: If this is turned off, your audience will not be able to comment on your ads.

3: Creative Type

When the Automated Creative Optimization option is turned on, the system will automatically generate combinations from your images, videos, and ad texts. This means that you will get ready ad combinations. 

TikTok creative type

4: Targeting

Customize your audiences in your ad group targeting. You can use your customer’s contact data, website traffic, app activity, or ad engagement or by uploading IDFA & GAID. You can also create a pixel-based audience or lookalike audience (users who are similar to your clients).

TikTok targeting

5: Budget & Schedule

Once your audience targeting is complete, you can configure the budget (no less than $50) and schedule for your ad group.

Tiktok budget and schedule

6: Bidding & Optimization

You may be able to customize the bidding and optimization of your ad budget spend. The higher your bid, the more likely your ad will be seen by your target audience over your competitor’s ads.

TikTok bidding and optimization

Note: Once your ad group is created, the following settings can’t be changed anymore:

  • Start Date
  • Optimization Goal
  • Conversion Event
  • Smart Optimization

Setting up an Ad

Once your ad group is configured, you can proceed to upload your new ad. 

1. Add creative

TikTok Ads supports two formats: videos and images. If you opt for images, TikTok will group them into a video for you. 

Add Tiktok ad creative

Technical requirements:

  • Aspect ratio: 9:16/1:1/16:9.
  • Resolution: 720px x 1280px, 640px by 640px, or 1280px by 720px.
  • Video length: 5-60 seconds, although 9-15 seconds is recommended.

2. Choose a cover

You can upload your photo or choose one from the pre-selected images from your video.

3. Preview your creative

Once you have finished creating your ad, you can use TikTok’s ad preview tool to see how your ad will look on mobile devices.

4. Enter Ad name

5. Enter Ad text

The ad text will be shown above your ad. TikTok supports 12-100 English characters. Reminders: 

  • Emojis, "{}" and "#" cannot appear in the ad text.
  • Punctuations and spaces count as characters.

6. Add Call-to-Action

TikTok Ads now offers 22 calls-to-action you can choose for your ads depending on what is applicable for your ad:

  • Download
  • Learn More
  • Visit Store
  • Shop Now
  • Sign Up
  • Contact Us
  • Apply Now
  • Book Now
  • Play Game
  • Watch Now
  • View Now
  • Get Quote
  • Interested
  • Subscribe
  • Get Tickets Now
  • Listen Now
  • Read More
  • Order Now
  • Install Now
  • Get Showtimes
  • Experience Now
  • Pre-Order Now

7. Submit your ad (finally!) 🎉

TikTok Ads Type

TikTok offers several options for paid advertising, and they are as follows:

1. In-Feed Video

The ad that appears in TikTok’s native news feed on the For You page (similar to Instagram story ads). In-Feed videos appear in the feed as a part of the video queue when users are exploring content.

2. Brand Takeover

The ad appears when TikTok users open the app and completely take over the screen for a few seconds to create images, GIFs, and videos.

3. Hashtag Challenge

The ad appears on the Discovery page and encourages users to participate in user content creation challenges about the campaign hashtag. Challenges usually last for about 6 days.

4. Branded Lenses

The ad appears as branded lenses (similar to Instagram or Snapchat filters), stickers, and other 2D/3D/AR content for TikTok users to use in their videos.

TikTok ads examples

Tools & Tips for your TikTok Ads

Luckily, you can checkout support pages and creative tips on TikTok for any ad you want to run. TikTok also supports a suite of creative tools for the ad platform:

Video Template

Video Template is a tool that makes creating video ads faster and easier than ever before. With this tool, you can simply create a video ad by selecting a template and uploading your existing photo assets, text, and logos.

Smart Video Soundtrack

To help you choose the right background music to create beautiful video ads, TikTok Ads Manager offers the Smart Video Soundtrack tool. You will be able to upload videos with one click, and the system will automatically select appropriate music material based on your videos. 

You can also change the music and adjust both the video volume and music volume for your ads. You can even try different background music to test their effect on ad delivery performance.

Automated Creative Optimization

Automated Creative Optimization helps in managing your ads by automatically finding high-performing combinations of your creative assets--or in other words, takes the creative heavy lifting off your shoulders and into the hands of a clever optimization AI. With this tool, you will be able to upload images or videos, write some ad text, and select your call-to-action (CTA) buttons. 

TikTok’s system will then automatically combine your creative assets into multiple ads for your campaign which will be explored, evaluated, and optimized continuously to find the optimal combination for your campaign. The best creative, then, will be presented to your target audience based on the tested combinations.

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