TikTok Ads For Beginners: A Complete Guide & Steps To Success

With over 1 billion active users in 2022, the TikTok phenomenon has caught the attention of marketers and brands.

Since its inception in 2016, the social media video sharing platform has taken the digital world by storm and expanded into more than 150 markets.

Despite this impressive growth and large audience base, advertising opportunities on TikTok are still a mystery to many.

If you’re one of those sitting on the fence wondering if you should invest in TikTok ads, you’re not alone.

This TikTok advertising guide for beginners can help you learn how this advertising platform works, how to get started with TikTok Business Manager, and the steps for creating a new campaign.

Additionally, we’ve included some best practices and recommendations. Let’s go to her!

To TikTok Or Not?

Before considering running ads on TikTok, ask yourself – is my brand a good fit for TikTok?

Is my target audience even on TikTok?

Screenshot from TikTok For Business, April 2022

With a very small audience, TikTok is very different from the likes of Facebook and Instagram.

In fact, most of the users are reported to be under the age of 30, and Gen Z and Millennials are the largest age groups for people using the app.

Besides, when we think about its global footprint, TikTok is definitely benefiting from wide adoption around the world, especially in the US, the Middle East, and Asia.

So if your products or services resonate with younger audiences and you have international aspirations, TikTok could be your biggest untapped opportunity yet.

However, even if you’re running a smaller, local business, it’s possible to make TikTok ads work for you (more on that later), but for now, let’s take a look at how to get started with the ad platform and what’s required to create your first ad campaign. .

Check out this list of 40+ TikTok facts and stats to learn more.

Step 1: Sign up for a TikTok Business Manager account

First, create a TikTok ad account.

Even if you already have a user account, this separate login is necessary to create ads.

When you sign up, you will need to provide some basic information about yourself and your business.

Once this is complete and your account is confirmed, you will be ready to start using the self-service platform.

Step 2: Create your first campaign

Once the above procedures are over, the fun can begin!

Create your first campaign giving it a descriptive name, and choose from the target options presented to you.

Campaign goals in TikTok are awareness, engagement, and conversions.

    TikTok Ads Manager Create CampaignScreenshot from TikTok Ads Manager, April 2022

As the names go, these are self-explanatory.

Choose consciousness If you want to increase your brand reach and visibility as much as your budget allows, or narrow your targeting

Choose consideration If you want likes and grow your followers for higher engagement through website traffic, app installs or video views.

But if your marketing goal is mostly to increase conversions, go for the interview Campaign objective.

With the latter, you’ll need to make sure your TikTok pixel is installed and configured to properly track and measure the success of your ads.

This is a necessary step, and it’s much like installing a Facebook pixel or any other tracking code on your website.

TikTok’s algorithm will also use pixels to optimize your campaign and help you achieve your goals.

For a campaign, the budget options are either a daily budget or a lifetime budget.

Note that no matter which of the two options you choose, the minimum investment required to advertise on TikTok is $50.

Step 3: Create your ad group(s) and choose your ad placements

At this point, you can choose to show your ads on one or several properties, including the suite of apps that are part of the TikTok network like BuzzVideo and Pangle.

The easiest option to start with is Auto mode.

More advanced users can also fully manually select and place where they prefer to see ads.

TikTok create an ad groupScreenshot from TikTok Ads Manager, April 2022

Novice and less experienced users can start in automatic mode and let TikTok optimize and test different combinations based on target goals as the algorithm learns which options work best.

Relying further on automation, automated optimization can then be defined for creativity.

Again, similar to other platforms (think Google or Facebook, for example), TikTok allows users to upload different assets and then create different ad formats to test them to find the best performing combinations.

This is a great option for businesses that lack the resources to create and test ads, but perhaps not for those who prefer to retain more control and/or have strict branding guidelines to adhere to.


For those familiar with Facebook ads, the ad group settings (equivalent to Facebook ad groups) define the target audience(s), and the options are much the same: demographics (age and gender), location, device, behavior, and interests targeting.

TikTok Demographic Ads ManagerScreenshot from TikTok Ads Manager, April 2022

Some would argue that interests can be too loose and broad and therefore not as precise (or polished) as what you have on Facebook, or that the list of interest categories to choose from is short and limited.

However, we are sure that TikTok ads will continue to evolve; Options will increase and provide more value.

customer lists

Using customer lists, it is possible (and often recommended) to create lookalike audiences for prospecting campaigns, while leveraging website traffic and engagement to set up custom audiences. TikTok pixel is required to be installed and working.

Like any other form of push advertising, the time and effort you put into crafting laser targeted audiences and effective ads will pay off with better and more informative results.

So let’s take a look at the options when it comes to creativity.

Step Four: Choose the right ad type and create effective ads

TikTok offers a range of advertising options, but not all of them are within the reach of all advertisers; Some are somewhat more expensive and more suitable for larger brands.

In-feed ads

These are the ads that will appear within the feed on the user’s “For You Page” and will integrate with it natively making it look more natural and less intrusive compared to some other formats.

In addition, users can interact with these advertisements as they wish, share them and leave comments.

TikTok for BusinessScreenshot from TikTok For Business, April 2022

Brand takeover ads

Suitable for brands looking to make an impression and on a budget that allows, this ad is both visually effective and memorable.

The brand takeover announcement will appear as soon as the user opens the app and visits a category with a short, full-screen video of three to five seconds.

TikTok only allows one acquisition per day per user to increase impact.

As mentioned, this comes at a cost. You will have to budget a minimum of $50,000 USD for it.

TopView ads

Similar to a Brand Takeover ad, TopView ads will also appear at the top of a user’s feed and are the first video users see when they open the app.

It also appears in full screen mode. However, it can be up to 60 seconds long.

According to TikTok, TopView ads boost brand awareness and trigger engagements, using 72% of users said they prefer TopView.

Balenciaga business TikTok adScreenshot from TikTok For Business, April 2022

Hashtag challenge

Branded hashtag challenges are ad formats that promote awareness and engagement, and encourage users to create content that aligns with a brand’s products, services, and values.

Hashtag ads display at the top of the discovery page and lead to a TikTok landing page showing a handful of other videos from the challenge.

TikTok business photosScreenshot from TikTok For Business, April 2022

Branded influences

Similar to other platforms, TikTok Branded Effects allows brands to create their own stickers, lenses, and public effects that users can share and interact with businesses using TikTok’s AR.

Branded effects can last up to 10 days.

TikTok For Business slide featureScreenshot from TikTok For Business, April 2022

Spark Ads

Spark Ads is a native format that takes existing posts and turns them into ads.

Brands can use their own organic posts, or posts made by creators, and all views, comments, shares, likes, and follows are attributed to the primary post.

Search Ads

As of last week, TikTok began testing search ads — video ads marked “sponsored” displayed within users’ search results.

Once the ads start playing in the search results, you can retrieve the search terms for the ads that converted and use those terms with high click rates as titles for your top performing TikToks, to add value to your video ads.

While it is unclear if search ads are only for managed accounts, we know that this is an excellent opportunity to reach your target audience with a high purchase intent.

Final considerations

Now that we’ve quickly seen the ad formats available to advertisers on TikTok, let’s discuss what it takes to create a good and effective ad.

We have seen that TikTok is a very different platform than other social networks, and as such, content creation and distribution must take these differences into account.

First, there is a strong sense of community within TikTok.

This is most likely because the vast majority of its users are part of a younger generation that resonates strongly with authentic content.

These users also want to do business with authentic brands that share common values.

With this in mind, it is important that the advertised content is natural and adds value to TikTok users.

Boosted organic posts, UGC content, or sponsored content are all good options for companies that treat the platform as a long-term investment and want to get started with TikTok ads.

With TikTok advertising basics, best practices, and recommendations under your belt, you’ll have a good edge over the competition in TikTok advertising.

More resources:

  • Learn how TikTok ads work with this free guide
  • 10 TikTok Marketing Tips and Best Practices
  • Social Media Marketing: A Complete Strategy Guide

Featured image: maridart / Shutterstock

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