TikTok Ads 101: Here's What Makes a Great Ad

October 12, 2022

Some videos on TikTok go viral seemingly out of the blue. You may remember Nathan Apodaca's viral video in which he coasts along on a longboard, sipping Ocean Spray raspberry juice and jamming to "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac.

That video cleared Ocean Spray from shelves and helped Mac Fleetwood's music gain a resurgence. But in most cases, success on TikTok is the result of hard work, smart strategy, and sheer creativity. Zack King's illusion videos are consistently viral due to sheer creativity.

In any case, brands can't rely on luck. Instead, we can learn from Zach and Nathan and distill what makes a truly great TikTok Ad and video in a repeatable formula for marketing success.

Many brands already seem to have hit upon this formula. Fenty Beauty with its tutorials, Chipotle's fun vibes, and The Washington Post's funny skits are all examples of brands winning at TikTok marketing.

TikTok Advertising in a Nutshell

TikTok Ads or TikTok for Business is TikTok's advertising platform, designed to help businesses create, deliver, and optimize ads on the platform. Just like Facebook and Instagram ads, TikTok for Business offers a variety of ad formats and advertising tools.

Although TikTok ads aren't as popular as Facebook on Instagram ads, the app is one of the most influential social media apps today. These quick stats show just how important TikTok has become for marketing:

  • By Q4 2021, TikTok had 1.2 billion users and is expected to reach 1.8 billion by Q4 2022
  • One-fifth of adults in the US use the app, and 52% of TikTokers are adults aged 35+
  • The average Android TikToker spends about 21.5 hours on the platform per month
  • Gen-Z users in the US spend an average of 87 minutes daily on the platform
  • TikTok influencers in the US have an 18% engagement rate

For a platform that brought in nearly $4 billion in 2021 revenue (up from $1.9 billion in 2020), TikTok isn't slowing down any time soon. The time is ripe for businesses to tap into TikTok's power to catalyze brand awareness and growth.

Benefits of Advertising on TikTok

TikTok has several unique benefits for businesses looking to advertise and build their brands on the platform.

TikTok is Massive on Engagement

TikTok's power lies in its ability to keep users glued to the screen for hours on end, thanks to its video recommendation algorithm. Teens and pre-teens spend more than 105 minutes daily scrolling through TikTok.

This algorithm has unique advantages. You don't need to have a lot of followers to go viral on TikTok. Unlike YouTube and Instagram's follower-based algorithm, videos on TikTok can go viral based on likes alone. That means paid and organic brand content on TikTok can achieve massive reach.

Hyper-Targeting—Reach the Audience that Matters

TikTok is so good at recommending what users want, it's almost spooky. With the help of data science, the platform constantly adjusts to user wants and delivers content where it gets the best engagement.

This powerful algorithm is at your disposal, allowing you to target a specific audience based on demographics such as location, age, interests, and in-app behavior. Precise targeting allows you to minimize your customer acquisition cost while maximizing returns.

TikTok Marketing Makes Advertising Easy

TikTok goes the extra step to make it easy for businesses to create, optimize, and deliver ads on the platform. The all-in-one platform allows creators to measure and track performance easily using a tracking pixel to monitor ad performance and the behavior of website visitors.

The platform includes:

  • A Dashboard where you can track all your ad data and performance changes, including information on ad spend, active campaigns, and more
  • A Campaign page where you can manage all your campaigns, ads, and ad groups
  • The TikTok Ads library, which is a section of the Ads Manager that holds all ad resources including pixels and audience management
  • A Reporting section where you can create predefined or custom reports

If you don't have the right experience, it can be intimidating to create, run, and manage TikTok ad campaigns. However, Udemy offers a TikTok marketing course where you can master TikTok advertising.

Types of Ads Available on TikTok

You can spend anything from under $100 a day to hundreds of thousands of dollars running TikTok ads. It all depends on the type of ad, ad placement, and timing.

In-Feed Videos

This is the standard ad that is usually inserted into a user's "For You" page. In-Feed videos are usually 15-60 seconds long and are almost identical to the organic content, except that they come with a CTA button.

In-Feed ads are the most accessible type of ad for small businesses and cost a minimum of $20 per ad group per day or $50 per ad campaign. In addition to video ads, In-Feed ads can also be Spark Ads (for boosting organic content), Pangle Ads (placed through the audience network), or Carousel Ads (they include up to 10 individual images with unique captions

Brand Takeover/TopView Ads

These are full-screen ads that pop up when a user opens TikTok. They're a powerful way of delivering mass awareness and driving direct sales.

Brand Takeover Ads are exclusive, so users don't see more than one per day. This exclusivity makes them expensive, but they can reach a wide audience with very little competition.

Hashtag Challenges

These are three to six-day ad campaigns where user-generated content appears on the hashtag challenge page. They are typically meant to generate user awareness and engagement and usually see 2.5X ad spend returns or more.

TikTok displays sponsored hashtags on the Discover tab, and these are often accompanied by sponsored posts or in-feed ads to drum up engagement.

Branded Effects

Special effects like stickers and filters can get users to interact with your brand and spread awareness. Users use these augmented reality effects to enhance their videos, which is an easy way to gain a lot of awareness organically.

TikTok recently introduced Gamified Branded Effects, in which users can control AR elements with their bodies to create fun videos. These effects can include branding elements such as logos, allowing users to engage with brands in unique ways.

Leverage TikTok Marketing in Three Main Ways

TikTok advertising is just one way marketers can leverage TikTok to grow their brands. In fact, there are three main ways that you can leverage TikTok for marketing, especially if you subscribe to performance marketing.

Influencer Marketing

Working with established influencers on TikTok is a quick and effective way to spread the word about new brands and products. These creators don't even have to be mega stars like Charlie D'Amelio or Khaby Lame—micro-influencers can also be highly effective.

TikTok influencers enjoy high engagement rates, averaging about 17.96% compared to Instagram's 3.85% and 1.63% for YouTube. Micro-influencers can have even better engagement rates due to their tighter communities.

Original Content

You don't need to create the next viral trend to be popular on TikTok. Often, the best way to grow your following on the platform is to ride on popular trends and hashtags. TikTok has several recommendations on this point to help brands design creative ads:

  • Keep your story real, authentic, and entertaining
  • Break the fourth wall—address the audience directly
  • Shoot videos natively for TikTok in full portrait mode (9:16)
  • Keep monitoring the latest trends such as challenges, effects, editing styles, and trending storylines
  • Get your message out within the first 3 seconds
  • Include text overlays, effects, and stickers to tell a fast-paced, visual story

All ads should also include a strong call to action leading your audience to visit your site, download an app, or whatever else you need them to do. If you have trouble generating fresh ad ideas, check out the Pencil AI ads library.

Paid Ads

Paid Ads are powered by TikTok for Business. This is still a relatively new feature, which means small brands can seize the opportunity before the space becomes saturated with competition.

How to Create a TikTok Business Account?

You will need a TikTok Business Account to run effective marketing with all the Business Suite benefits. These include access to analytics, automation tools, a commercial music library, and the Business Creative Hub.

The Creative Hub is where you can view trending videos and get tips on how to create good content and design effective advertising strategies. It's easy to create a TikTok Business account.

#1. Download TikTok and create a regular account.

#2. Go to your account profile and tap the hamburger menu (top right corner).

#3. Go to "Settings and Privacy".

#4. Select "Manage Account".

#5. Select "Switch to Business Account".

Follow the steps that follow and choose the category that best reflects your business type, then optimize your account to appeal to your target audience.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get more followers on TikTok?

There are several ways to grow your following on TikTok. Start by identifying your target audience and tailoring your content for them. Create funny or educational videos that delight your audience, then use hashtags and cross-promotional strategies to engage more TikTokers. If you're unsure of what to do, partner with experienced creators.

Is TikTok good for small businesses?

The good thing about TikTok is that engagement on the platform doesn't depend on how many followers you have. As a new business, TikTok is the ideal place to begin your social media marketing. Even without investing in paid ads, you can quickly grow your organic reach with a very low budget.

How can you make a product go viral on TikTok?

There are many factors that help make a post or product go viral on TikTok. These include timing, compelling content, humor, and a bit of luck. The best way to go viral on TikTok is to keep up with the latest trends, post consistently, interact with other users, and don't be afraid to be controversial.

Summary: Winning at Tiktok Advertising

TikTok Ads is a promising advertising ground for businesses. TikTok's unique algorithm, together with its popularity among the young and the old, makes it uniquely suitable for brand building.

Like all other social media platforms, the key to success on TikTok is to stay creative by generating fresh content ideas.

Pencil is a revolutionary AI that generates new ad ideas for you using your image and video assets, allowing you to generate engaging ads at the click of a button. Try Pencil today and find out how we can help you win on TikTok ads.


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