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TikTok Advertising 101: The Basics and Best Practices

September 29, 2021
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TikTok is now the world's fifth-largest social media platform, and it's growing by the day. It offers advertisers access to a worldwide audience (65.9 million monthly users in the U.S.)  and an opportunity to drive impressive levels of engagement. In fact, successful users have amassed a following of millions of people. 

Although TikTok was originally popular among younger audiences, it has been adopted by people of all ages in a variety of demographics. This spells good news for advertisers who want to expand their reach and get in front of more than just Gen Z. Here's how to adopt a TikTok ad strategy that will add another layer of success to your brand.

The Different Ad Types on TikTok 

Like any other advertising outlet, TikTok offers more than one way to promote your brand. One noticeable difference is that there are surprisingly more options for ads on TikTok compared to other social media platforms. 

Ad formats include:

In-Feed Ads

These ads operate on three different models: CPC (Cost Per Click), CPM (Cost Per Impression), and CPV (Cost Per View). Ads are displayed within a user’s For You page and are a relatively natural experience. 

Targeting filters include the ability to include or exclude audiences based on age, gender, and targeting lists. While these capabilities are relatively simple, advertisers can further refine their targeting through custom lists. We also expect TikTok’s advertising to evolve and improve. 

Brand Takeover

Brand Takeover ads are less natural compared to In-Feed ads and appear as soon as a user opens TikTok. They also show up on a user’s For You Page with clickable links that lead to landing pages within the platform. 

These ads are best used to drive awareness and incremental sales. Advertisers can choose where to direct users. Whether it be their own TikTok profile, their D2C website, a piece of content, a product detail page, or something else entirely. It’s also worth noting, Brand Takeover ads are more expensive, partly because they are limited to one advertiser or brand on a given day. 

Top View

This ad type is similar to a Brand Takeover placement because it appears as soon as a user opens the app. The difference is that this placement offers more flexibility because the ad doesn’t take over the entire screen. Instead, it displays as the first video in a user’s feed. These ads run for up to 60 seconds and can become full-screen with auto-play and sound. We have seen this ad type be most effective in increasing brand exposure. 

Dynamic Product Ads

Shifting gears slightly, advertisers that want to retarget TikTok users can use dynamic product ads to reach people with their products based on user behavior. This is much like putting your ad strategy on autopilot since users are automatically shown relevant products based on their activities.

Retargeting, in general, has been very promising for marketers. In fact, studies show that remarketing reduces cart abandonment by 6.5% and may increase sales by as much as 20%. 

Branded Hashtag Ads

Next, this ad type takes a page from the influencer marketing playbook. Advertisers can ask users to record themselves featuring a product, then post the footage with a designated hashtag, like this example from fashion eCom platform Zalora. 

Branded hashtag ads are displayed at the top of a user’s discovery page. And, when someone clicks on the hashtag, they’re directed to a landing page within the app. 

These ads are a great way to increase engagement and brand awareness. In fact, TikTok shares that branded hashtags earn 4x greater ad recall, 4.5x more brand awareness, and 2.5x or more return on ad spend compared to standard mobile ads.

Branded Effect Ads

Finally, advertisers can create branded effect ads that take the form of a custom filter for users. These filters, also called branded lenses, are available for up to ten days and are similar to the augmented reality features on Snapchat and Instagram. Like branded hashtag ads, these ads are a great way to encourage engagement and awareness. 

How to Get Started

 The first step to advertising on TikTok is setting up a campaign, which requires you to set up a TikTok Ad Account. 

From there, click ‘Create an Ad, ’ verify your account, and agree to TikTok’s terms and conditions. 

Next, go to the account setup and input your business information. When this is complete, you’re good to get started with your TikTok ad strategy. 

As you’re getting started, consider the following:

Set an Objective 

TikTok ads can be set to achieve one of three objectives: Awareness (best for newer brands), Consideration (best for established brands wanting to drive traffic), or Conversion (ideal for driving sales on the spot). It’s a good idea to know what you expect to get out of your campaign before you start so you can decide which metrics to measure to gauge your results.

Advertisers will also need to choose the platforms their ads run on in addition to TikTok. Affiliate platforms include News Republic, BuzzVideo, Top Buzz, and more. 

Refine Your Budget 

Next, you’ll need to set a budget for each campaign. When doing so you can choose to set a daily or lifetime budget. With this, it’s important to note that TikTok has a minimum budget requirement of $50 for daily or lifetime budgets. And ad groups can run on a minimum of $20 per day. 

As you dive deeper into TikTok advertising, you can decide whether to expand or shrink your budget based on the results you get. Proper tracking is key in determining any budget changes moving forward.

More Tips for Success 

As with other platforms, ad creative will make all the difference in how well your advertising performs. After all, TikTok rose to popularity seemingly overnight because it offers users an environment where it’s natural to engage and connect with content. So, when you’re advertising on TikTok, you need to make sure you’re not interrupting that experience. 

Our clients have found the most success when incorporating popular TikTok sounds. These sounds have already done a good job in building familiarity and are akin to the next generation of memes. They’re relatable and can make your content more memorable. 

We’ve also found it imperative to showcase the product or service within the first three seconds of the video ad. Capture people’s attention quickly to increase their chances of getting the message before they scroll on.

Finally, if possible, we suggest using overlays to be more efficient in getting the point across in a limited time frame. People process images in a fraction of the time it takes them to process text. In this case, overlays act like images and can get to the point faster compared to having to watch an entire ad.

Start on the Right Foot with TikTok Advertising

Driving valuable engagement has become a challenge in such a saturated environment—not to mention increasingly expensive. Standing out takes time, effort, and money, especially if you weren’t an early adopter of the platform and are building an audience from the ground up. But a critical rule of marketing is to always go where your audience is, which is why it’s a must for brands to expand their media efforts across channels that are proving reliable in driving success. 

TikTok can be an incredible opportunity for brands and advertisers that have the proper support and expertise. At Code3, we’re committed to making the most of the channel for our clients by trying new and innovative ways to drive results and reach goals. 

Compared to well-established platforms like Facebook, TikTok advertising is still in its infancy. It’s a learning curve for everyone, but Code3 remains on the cusp of research, data, and development to help our clients best navigate the “newness” and get the most for their efforts. We invite you to reach out to us today to learn how we can partner together and turn your brand into a TikTok success. 

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