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How to Use TikTok Advertising for Your Business

Tiktok Ads

In this guide, you’ll discover everything you need to know about the app, how the algorithm works and tips for using TikTok ads to advertise your business.

Back in 2016, something amazing happened. An app under two different names became the fastest social media platform of all time. In China, it’s called Douyin. The rest of the world knows it as TikTok. 

In fact, in less than 4 years, TikTok has garnered over 3 billion downloads and surpassed Google in popularity. With over 1 billion active users, TikTok is no longer the new kind on the social media block. It’s become the most trending, connected platform in the world. 

If you’ve yet to jump on the bandwagon, you may still think that TikTok is just a fun app for teenagers to learn new dance moves. That was once at the heart of the platform’s media, but it’s since expanded to cover virtually every niche imaginable. 

From celebrities and influencers to businesses and freelancers, TikTok is the place to build a community and boost brand awareness. 

So, if you’re wondering whether you can promote your business on TikTok, you’ve come to the right place. 

Discover everything you need to know about the app, our top tips for creating viral videos, and how the algorithm works in this ultimate guide to TikTok marketing.

Let’s dive in.

TikTok Stats

TikTok is the go-to destination for content that educates, entertains and inspires. It’s a place where influencers and brands alike create short-form video content that goes beyond basic promotional ads. 

If you’re marketing to younger adults, especially women, advertising on TikTok is a natural fit. Almost half (43%) of TikTok users are 18 to 24. Women in that age category make up nearly a quarter (24.7%) of TikTok’s advertising audience.

Even more astonishing is that approximately 61% of TikTok users in the USA are female

With more than 120,768,500 people on the app, TikTok’s largest audience is currently within the United States. However, what’s even more interesting is that TikTok ads have the power to reach outside North America. 

Why You Need to Advertise TikTok

In the early days of TikTok, the primary demographic was Gen Z. Brands like PacSun and H&M effectively reached them by creating content and ads that piqued interest and made them feel connected. 

And while it’s true the app did initially favor the younger generation, the pandemic changed that. Between 2020 and 2021, Millennials and Gen X hopped into the platform as well. In 2020, users aged 24-34 increased by 22.4% whereas users between 35-44 also increased to 17.1%. 

What’s that mean for your business?

Simply put, TikTok is no longer just for teens to gather and make the latest viral trends. It’s an advertising mecca with the power to reach millions across the globe. 

Before you jump on and start running ads, you need to know what makes TikTok such a valuable marketing tool and how to use it to promote your business. 

 Is TikTok Good for Business?

As mentioned above, TikTok is growing by leaps and bounds, which means there’s an enormous audience already on the app just waiting to be tapped into by forward-thinking brands. 

Brands that embraced the platform early on have already reaped the rewards of increased visibility and brand awareness, usually with very little to sometimes no investment.

That’s how powerful TikTok is

For example, let’s look at the Washington Post. In less than one year, the publisher has gained over 400K followers, positioned themselves as a TikTok powerhouse and also furthered their reach to a younger and more global audience. 

When it comes to going viral, the playing field is pretty equal on the app. Contrary to YouTube and Instagram where follower count can make or break a brand, accounts with no followers on TikTok can go viral simply by creating great content. 

Moreover, TikTok Ads can also catapult an otherwise unknown business into the spotlight. The platform is rapidly changing to accommodate the needs of businesses and advertisers alike. 

That’s where the algorithm comes into play. 

Demystifying TikTok’s Algorithm 

Before discussing how TikTok’s algorithm works, know that TikTok loves keeping their FYP (For Your Page) algorithm under lock and key. 

However, after digging deep and learning how it functions, here’s what we learned about it.

1. Exposure Depends on Video Performance

Your TikTok videos can get millions of views, even if you have only a few followers. The algorithm uses the number of interactions on individuals, not your account as a whole. 

After your video is published, it’s shown to a limited number of users in between the most popular videos on their FYP. This is how videos with very few likes end up on your feed. If your video garners enough attention, it’s pushed out to a larger group of users. 

2. The Algorithm Uses Account Indicators

To push video to FYP, the algorithm takes into account more than just video likes. It also includes comments, shares, rewinds and video completions. If your content is entertaining, educational or inspirational, it’s more likely to be shown to the masses, and that’s also what can boost ad performance. 

3. Initial Viewership is Based on User Location

When videos go live, they’re typically shown to people in the same geographical location. In fact, location is a primary factor when it comes to videos being shown on users’ For You pages. 

This gives businesses a lot of opportunity to promote themselves on TikTok via their feeds and when running ads. It also gives smaller businesses a chance to increase brand awareness to local audiences. 

On the same token, if a video is well received in its initial geo-location, it’s then more likely to be shown on international For You pages. In only a few short hours, your content could be shown to users worldwide. 

That not only boosts brand awareness, but also increases the likelihood of your ads being clicked simply by creating quality content beforehand.

4. Use Trending Sounds And Hashtags 

Trending sounds and hashtags are probably two of the best ways to increase content visibility. 

For example, TikTok videos that have trending hashtags in the caption are put onto relevant Discovery pages. If it’s a really popular hashtag, it could even get boosted to more For You pages.

And while there’s no steadfast rule on which hashtags have the most impact, #foryou and #fyp are believed to increase the chances of your videos showing up in the For You feeds. 

It’s also a good idea to include niche-specific hashtags in your content. 

This helps the algorithm understand what your content is about as well as which users may be interested as well. Similar to using trending hashtags, sounds can increase content visibility two-fold. 

5. Even Old Videos Can Go Viral

One of the most intriguing aspects of TikTok’s algorithm is that no matter how old your content is, it still can go viral. Since the algorithm is continually analyzing your videos performance, even older ones have the potential to explode in popularity. 

It could be by chance, or it could be a combination of previous sounds and hashtags that become trendy again. This is why continual variety and consistency are two of the most important elements to any good TikTok strategy. 

What Kind of Content Performs The Best?

Unlike Instagram where content is usually edited to create the illusion of perfection, TikTok is fueled by authenticity. Even outside of advertising, unedited videos perform the best here. 

TikTok is more about letting people see the back story of your business, albeit with content creation and ad efforts. 

So, it’s better to skip the fancy edits and generic ads. People on TikTok want to connect with the personality behind a brand, and that means making content that is authentic and generally more informal than traditional digital marketing media. 

TikTok Advertising For Business

Aside from creating engaging content, you also need solid campaigns that capture your target audience’s attention and ultimately convert leads into loyal customers. 

To make sure your ads are shown to the right people, you need to optimize your ads and use the right type of ad format. 

Ad Placement 

When it comes to advertising, there are plenty of advertising opportunities for business on TikTok. There are a variety of ad placements you can use to reach your target audience. 

Let’s look a little closer at each one

  • In-Feed Ads
  • Top View
  • Brand Takeover
  • Branded Hashtag Challenge

1. In-feed Ads

In-Feed Ads, which are the standard format, show the “Sponsored” label when they appear on users’ For You page. These types of ads let you embed your video ads for auto-play on your target audience’s For You page. 

Viewers can like, share, comment and even follow you directly from the ad. You can also use In-Feed ads with a variety of campaign objectives. They also house a clickable call-to-action, which includes “shop now” or “learn more”. 

You can use the CTA button to drive traffic to your website and your brand’s TikTok account. For best results, we recommend ads be around 15 seconds long. 

Tiktok In-feed Ads

2. Top-view Ads

In the social media marketing game, attention is free real estate. Top-view Ads are designed to do just that: capture your target demographic attention when they first open their For You page. 

These types of ads can be up to 60 seconds in length, making them the perfect choice for storytelling. They are an immersive experience for viewers without having to compete with other content that lands in their feeds. 

Because of its almost guaranteed reach and high number of impressions, Top-view Ads can also boost your brand’s visibility and awareness. 

To leave a lasting impression, Top-view Ads need to be inspirational, entertaining or a mix of both. Focus on your audience’s pain points, but think about their general likes as well.

Rather than always trying to push a solution, TikTok can help you personalize your brand and connect with your audience beyond conversion. 

Top view ads in tiktok

3. Spark Ads

With Spark Ads, you can boost organic content directly from your account or from other users. Research shows that Spark Ads’ engagement rate is 142% higher than regular In-Feed ads. You can learn more about Spark Ads in the Help Section of TikTok. 

Spark Ads in Tiktok.

4. Brand Takeovers

Like Top-view Ads, Brand Takeovers can be dynamic displays or full-screen statics. Both deliver a powerful impact when someone opens the app. However, unlike other types of TikTok ads, users aren’t able to comment or like. 

Brand Takeovers are similar to YouTube’s bumper ads. They’re supposed to be short and sweet, and either a 3-second image or a 3 to 5-second-long video. This gives brands a direct gateway to internal and external landing pages. 

As a rule of thumb, this ad format in conjunction with the ad formats available. This will give you the greatest reach for your advertising budgets 

Brand takeover ads in tiktok

5. Branded Hashtag Challenge

The Branded Hashtag format is specifically geared for the platform’s UGC (user generated content) aesthetic. It allows users to express themselves creatively, which can increase brand awareness far beyond just a click. 

This ad format can be broken into three different placements, with the standard video ads appearing in the feeds. This will encourage users to take part in the challenge. The next placement is in featured banners on the Discover Page. 

Using this format, you can direct traffic to your hashtag challenge, which is the exact place you want users to go. It’s both the third placement and focal point of this type of format. 

It’s a collection port where all of the video submissions are stored, making it super easy to connect the target audience with brands. 

All in all, TikTok is an extremely effective way to communicate with the right people for your brand. It encourages real-time engagement through a variety of ad formats. It also delivers optimal results when integrated with high-quality native content on your feed

Hashtag Challenge in Tiktok

6. Branded Effects

Thanks to Branded Effects, brands can create their own shareable stickers, effects and filters. Users can then use them in their own videos. These features can be built into a Branded Hashtag Challenge, or they can be used in a separate marketing campaign. 

Just like Branded Hashtag Challenges, the beauty of Branded Effects is how easy it is to get your audience involved. This not only creates more user-generated content to boost awareness but also raises engagement.  

Greater engagement can lead to increased visibility in the algorithm. So, put simply, you want to create as many opportunities as possible to get people interacting with your content. 

Branded effects on tiktok

7. Custom Influencer Packages

CIPs are now commonplace on TikTok. While typically used by brands who’ve had success running ads on the platform, smaller brands should also include in their marketing playbook.

This type of advertising appears as sponsored content. It involves working with a TikTok’r who is active on the app and can influence others in your niche. 

Keep in mind that influencer marketing has become one of the best ways to convert leads. Influencers with a loyal following have already established trust with their followers.

What’s that mean for you

It means an already engaged audience will see and interact with your ads because they trust the influencer who’s promoting it. 

Custom Influencer packages on tiktok

Influencer Campaign Types

Unlike Instagram, there are several types of influencer campaigns you can use in your collaborations.

TikTok Challenges

As mentioned above, some of the trendiest videos are user-generated challenges. These are also one of the fastest ways to go viral, with possibly millions of users participating. When an influencer creates your branded content, they need to use a specific hashtag that other users will use to denote their submission. 

TikTok does some of the legwork and displays lists of popular hashtags on the Discover page. This way, the challenges are promoted more organically and allows more users to get involved.


Just like the hashtag challenges, dances are also structured so other users can recreate them. Influencers who use this type of post to promote your business should also use catchy music to inspire others to join.


TikTok Duets inspire users to collaborate with a pre-existing post by creating a split-screen video with the original content. These are similar to reaction videos on YouTube, only there’s a lot more wiggle room when it comes to creativity. 

As with any type of influencer marketing, you need to work closely with creators to develop a solid strategy. The content needs to resonate with their audience in such a way that it feels natural and ultimately increases engagement with your business. 

Best Practices For TikTok Ads 

As with any type of advertising, there’s a right way and wrong way to go about it. We already know that intrusive marketing tactics never work. In fact, your target audience may turn a blind eye if they feel like they’re being pressured into buying.

Below are a few of the best practices to follow when setting up your TikTok ads:

  • Take the time to review other TikTok inspiration ads.
  • Check out the Discovery page to see what’s currently trending. This is where you’ll find other fun challenges and campaigns. You can also perform a search to find the most popular sounds, hashtags and videos.
  • Make sure your text messaging is warm and friendly. Your goal is to connect with your target audience.
  • Only use high-definition visuals to create the ultimate visual experience to build brand awareness and promote flash sales or discounts.
  • Tailor new product launches to suit a specific type of consumer. While marketing to the masses is ideal, it’s not really realistic. 

How to Create TikTok Ads

Before you can use TikTok to promote your business, you first need to set up your account. 

1. Head over to the TikTok for Business page, click the Get Started button and enter your business type and where you’re located. 

2. Fill in your business details and click Sign Up. You’ll need to include your contact information, your registered business name and briefly describe the type of business you have. TikTok will send you a verification code to verify your identity. Once you do that, you’re good to go! 

Set Up a Marketing Campaign

Now that you know the basics, it’s time to set up your first campaign. Head over to TikTok Ads Manager to get started.

1. Choose Your Objective

Start by logging into Ads Manager and click the Campaign button. The platform offers a variety of different objectives that can be broken down into three categories:


Reach: Choose this to have your ad shown to the most people possible.


  • Traffic: Push traffic to a specific URL
  • App Installs: Drive traffic to download a mobile app
  • Video Views: Maximize video ad plays-thrus
  • Lead Generation: Use an Instant Form to collect leads


  • Encourage specific actions on your website, like make a purchase or buy a subscription.
  • Catalog Sales: High-definition ads based on your product catalog.

2. Give Your Campaign a Name and Set Your Budget

When choosing a campaign name, choose one that’ll be easy for your team to recognize. If you’re running ads by yourself, you still want to choose a name that clearly states what the campaign is about. 

If you have a large marketing budget or want to allot a given amount to specific ad groups, choose the “no limit” option. 

If you have a set amount of money to spend, you can choose the daily or lifetime budget for your marketing campaign. 

Note, you can optimize your campaign budget for app installs and conversion objectives as well. For this, you’ll use the Lowest Cost bidding strategy. 

At this time, TikTok is currently beta testing features that offer a suggested bid for CPC (cost per click).

3. Name The Ad Set And Choose Ad Placement 

All campaigns include between 1 and 999 ad sets. Ad set names can be up to 512 characters.

It’s also important to note that while you can choose different ad set placements for each set, not all placements are available in every location:

  • TikTok placement: Use for in-feed ads in the For You feed.
  • News Feed App placement: Use this for ads in TikTok’s other apps, like Babe, BuzzVide, and NewsRepublic
  • Pangle placement: This shows ads in the TikTok audience network
  • Automatic placement lets TikTok automatically optimize ad delivery of your ads to the right people in the right location. 

4. Automated Creative Optimization

Until you reach the point of creating individual ads, you don’t need to upload your ad assets. However, you can still decide whether you want TikTok to automatically create different combinations of your visuals and any ad text you use. 

The system only shows users the top-performing ones thereafter. Until you get a feel for running ads, TikTok recommends leaving this setting turned on.

5. Define Your Audience 

Similar to other social media ads, you can tailor who sees your ads on TikTok. You can custom and look-alike audiences based on the following parameters:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Interests
  • Gender
  • Behaviors
  • Device 
  • Language 

These parameters aren’t set in stone, so you can change them at any time. 

6. Determine The Ad Set Budget And Schedule

You already decided on your total budget, so now it’s time to set the budget for the ad sets, and the schedule which III wants the ads to run. 

Just like the overall campaign budget, you can choose between a daily and lifetime budget. You can also choose the start and end times, too.

If you want your ads to only run at certain times of the day, you can set that up under Dayparting. Pay close attention because that feature is based on your time zone, not your target audience’s. 

7. Bidding Strategy And Optimization

Here, you need to define your goals: reach, clicks or conversion. Depending on your campaign objectives, this might automatically be done for you. 

Next, you need to choose a bidding strategy. 

  • Lowest Cost: The system will use the ad set budget to produce the highest number of results possible while maintaining the lowest cost per each result.
  • Cost Cap: This is the average cost per each result for optimized CPM (cost per impressions). The cost may fluctuate above and below your bid amount, however, usually averages out to your set bid.
  • Bid Cap: This is the maximum amount per each click (CPC), view (CPV), or per every 1,000 impressions (CPM).

The last step in this part of the process is choosing the mode of delivery: accelerated or standard. Accelerated delivery spends as quickly as possible, whereas standard delivery will spend your set budget across the entire duration of your campaign. 

8. Create Your Ad

Your ad groups can have up to 20 ads. In addition, the ad names can be up to 512 characters. Note that the names are for internal use and don’t appear on the ad. 

The first step is to choose the ad format: video, image or Spark Ads. Add your visual assets or create a video inside of Ads Manager using TikTok’s video creation tools.

There are also templates you can use as well. Interestingly, using the TikTok video editor can actually decrease the cost per action by 46%, so it’s worth using if you’re just starting out. 

Next, you can choose a default thumbnail or upload one of your own. Afterwards, you add the ad text and any applicable links. There’s a preview function on the right side of the screen, where you verify that everything looks the way you want it.

Once you do that, hit submit and that’s it! To ensure your video is set up properly, your video automatically goes through a review process before going live. 

Tip: If you’re using Spark Ads, you’ll have to contact the creator of any external content you plan on using. They’ll need to give you an access code before you can proceed. 

If you’d prefer to work with a TikTok creator on a custom campaign, check out the TikTok Creator Marketplace. Here, you’ll find a variety of content creators in your niche to collab with. 

TikTok Ads Specifications 

TikTok ads also have specific aspect ratios. The following ratios and specs are for ads that run on TikTok, not in the news apps. 

TikTok aspect ratios.
  • Aspect ratio: Vertical videos with 9:16 ratio perform the best, however, 1:1 and 16:9 work, too.
  • Minimum resolution: Set resolution to 540 x 960 or 640 x 640 px. Videos with 720 px resolution perform best.
  • File types: You can upload mp4, .mpeg, .mov, .avi or .3gp.
  • Duration: TikTok suggests video length of 21-34 seconds for best performance.
  • Max file size: 500 MB.
  • Profile image: Upload a square image that is under 50 KB.
  • Brand and app name: You can have 2-20 characters for brands and 4-40 characters for apps.
  • Ad description: You can use between 1-100 characters without emojis.

Spark Ad Ratios

Aspect ratios, duration and resolution can vary. There are no set parameters for resolution either. You can use emojis and mention different accounts in Spark Ads as well. 

Costs of TikTok Ads

All TikTok are based on a bidding model. This gives you control over the costs for both daily and lifetime campaigns. However, the minimum budgets are as follows:

Campaign level

  • Daily budget: $50 USD.
  • Lifetime budget: $50 USD.

Ad group level

  • Daily budget: $20 USD.
  • Lifetime budget: This will be calculated as the daily budget, which is multiplied by the number of days the ad is scheduled for. 


As with traditional types of social media advertising, you can also use cross-promotion techniques to get more bang for your marketing bucks. Evergreen content you create for TikTok can also be shared to your business’s Facebook and Instagram pages. 

The Bottom Line

TikTok is a platform like no other. It’s power to bring people together with video has changed more than just the social media industry; it’s also revolutionized the way brands can interact with their audience. 

It’s taken traditional marketing and advertising efforts to another level, allowing users to interact with brands on their own terms.

And as time goes on, TikTok will only continue to expand, giving businesses more opportunities to promote themselves while building a loyal following. 

Hopefully, we’ve successfully debunked some of the mystery that often accompanies advertising on a social media platform, particularly one as innovative as TikTok.