The Ultimate Guide to Winning at TikTok Ads

Reading Time: 18 minutes

I. What Is TikTok? 

TikTok is a fast-growing social media platform where users can create, share, and watch short videos. These videos are usually set to various trendy music, have flashy transitions, and use fun image or lighting effects.

TikTok videos vary in genre and content, but they are particularly popular in the dance, entertainment, comedy, music, and fashion industry. 

Even though it’s relatively new compared to other social media giants such as Facebook and Instagram, TikTok is massively gaining traction worldwide. It’s the most downloaded app in 2022 and now has a total of 755 million users.

In line with its growing user base is its growing popularity among marketers. And it’s no surprise. Aside from the huge audience reach, TikTok users are also very engaged with the app. 55% of users have brought something after seeing the brand on the app, and TikTok Ad’s revenue has surpassed Snapchat and Twitter combined. 

If you’re looking to join the TikTok craze and place your brand on the map, we got you covered. We prepared for you a comprehensive guide on the various TikTok ad formats as well as teach you how to set up your very first ad campaign. 

II. What Are TikTok Ads?

TikTok Ads offer brands and marketers different ad formats to reach their target audience. Unlike other platforms, TikTok offers a more user-geared ad (such as Branded Hashtags) and focuses on creating engaging and trendy content instead of straightforwardly promotional ads. 

TikTok Ad Manager automates the process of creating, delivering, and optimizing your ad. TikTok also has a more simplified dashboard compared to Facebook Ad Manager

For TikTok Ads, you can target an audience based on their age, gender, location, interest, and other unique variables. They have two budgeting options: daily and lifetime. TikTok also allows you to track and monitor the performance of your ad campaigns, view the impressions and clicks, as well as analyze them to improve your future campaigns.

If you need help creating your very own ads, our TikTok Video Maker and TikTok logos can help you get started.

III. What Are The Types of TikTok Ads?

TikTok offers a variety of ad formats that you can use for your business. Not sure which one is right for you? We break down the different ad formats here and how they each can help you achieve your objectives, so read on to find out which one is the best fit for you.

A. In-Feed Ads


In-Feed ads are video ads that appear when a user scrolls through their For You feed. With In-Feed ads, users can like, comment, share, and interact with the ad just like how they would with other video content that appears on TikTok. They also have a clickable CTA button that may be used to direct the user to your brand’s TikTok page, to an external landing page, or to download your app. 

As In-Feed ads look similar to all other videos on TikTok, it’s easy for people to scroll past them. Make sure your video is eye-catching, and the first 2-3 secs are riveting for your audience to continue watching. 

Of course, the positive side to this is that it looks like native content. People who are put off by too “in your face” kind of advertisements will be more receptive to these kinds of ads since they are more subtle and come off as less promotional. 

In-Feed Ads are composed of the following:

  • The video creative itself
  • Ad display image
  • Logo or Brand / App name
  • Ad description
  • CTA button

In-Feed Ads video specs are:

  • Duration: can be between 5-60s. Short videos of 9-15s is highly recommended. 
  • Aspect Ratio: 9:16, 1:1, or 16:9
  • Resolution: minimum of 540x960px, 640x640px, or 960x540px
  • File Type: .mp4, .mov, .mpeg, .3gp, or .avi
  • File Size: within 500mb 

Other specifications:

  • Ad Description: up to 100 characters for Latin Alphabet, and 50 for Asian characters. 
  • Brand / App Name: For Brand Names, 2-20 characters for Latin Alphabet or 1-10 Asian characters is allowed. For App Names, up to 4-40 characters for Latin Alphabet or 2-20 Asian characters only.
  • Emojis and special characters such as #, {, and } are not supported for the description and names.

B. Brand Takeover Ads

Brand Takeover ads pop up as soon as you open the app. They cover the whole screen for around 3 to 5 seconds. This can be either an image or video ad. Users can also be redirected to a landing page when they click on the ad. 

This ad is unskippable, but users can’t comment on or like the ad. This is also obviously more identifiable as an ad, which might be a pro or con for you.

Brand Takeover is the most effective when it comes to creating mass awareness of your brand. However, it also comes with a high cost, so it’s not the most accessible option for everyone.

 Brand Takeover image specs are:

  • Dimension: You can provide one size or six sizes of images. For one size, it’s 1242×2208, for the six sizes, it could be 1242×2208, 1080×1920, 750×1624, 750×1334, 720×1280, and 640×1136.
  • File Size: ≤500KB
  • File Type: .jpg, .jpeg., .png

Brand Takeover video specs are:

  • Dimension: You can provide one size or six sizes of videos. For one size, it’s 1242×2208. For six sizes, it’s 1242×2208, 1080×1920, 750×1624, 750×1334, 720×1280, 640×1136
  • Duration: max 5s, 3-5 seconds is recommended.
  • File Size: ≤5 MB
  • File Type: .mp4

C. TopView Ads


TopView ads are sort of a combination of In-Feed Ads and Brand Takeover, in the sense that as soon as you open the app, the TopView ad appears on top of your For You feed.

While TopView ads do appear as soon as you open the app, they don’t take over the whole screen the whole time, unlike Brand Takeover. They will only be full screen for around 3 seconds, then transition to a normal In-Feed video ad, where users can still comment, like, or engage with the video. 

TopView video specs are:

  • Dimension: 9:16 or 540x960px
  • Duration: 5-60s, however, 9-15 seconds is recommended.
  • File Size: ≤500 MB
  • File Type: .mp4, .mov, .mpeg, .3gp

D. Branded Hashtag Challenge


Branded Hashtag Challenge can be described more as a campaign rather than an ad. Brands will promote a specific hashtag, and encourage users to create and upload their own content related to the hashtag. 

This format can be found in three placements: first, are In-Feed ads that encourage people to join the hashtag challenge, second, the banners on the Discover page which will lead users to the hashtag, and of course, on the hashtag itself. 

Branded Hashtags are effective as they feel more like organic content instead of promotional. People usually like doing something fun, so this has a great chance of getting engagement with your audience as well as the chance of having it go viral. 

E. Branded Effects


In TikTok Branded Effects, brands can design stickers, filters, and motion effects that users can use when creating their content. Similar to Branded Hashtags, the success of these ads relies on user-generated content. 

This ad can last up to 10 days. Content that uses branded effects will naturally appear on For You pages, which gives a brand a chance to get discovered by a new audience.

Some examples of Branded Effects are having a 3D rendition of a sunglass or a hat that a user can “try” on or a 2D filter of a hair color product that will be placed on the user so that they can see what it would look like on them.

F. Pangle Ads


You can also run ads outside of the TikTok app itself. This is done through Pangle, which is essentially TikTok’s third-party ad network made for app developers. 

In Pangle, you can run Rewarded Video Ads, Interstitial Ads, Native Ads, Banner Ads, App Open Ads, or Icon Ads to encourage users to download your apps. Each ad can provide a different result, whether it’s to increase user retention, drive more app downloads, or increase in-app purchases. 

Rewarded Video Ads Specs are:

  • Dimension: 1280×720, 720×1280
  • Duration: 5-60s

Interstitial Ads specs are:

  • Available for image or video ad
  • Dimension: 1280×720, 720×1280
  • Duration: 5-60s

Native Ads specs are:

  • Available for image or video ad
  • Dimension: 1200×628, 640×640, 1280×720

Banner Ads:

  • Available for image or video ad
  • Dimension: 320×50, 300×250

App Open Ads:

  • Available for image or video ad
  • Dimension: 1280×720, 720×1280

Icon Ads:

  • Composed of the app icon image asset and the app name
  • Dimension: 128×128

G. Spark Ads


Spark Ads is a native form of ads, where you can “boost” an existing content from your own TikTok account or from other creators (with their authorization). 

Unlike in other ads, when you click on a Spark Ad, it will redirect you to the profile page instead of to an external landing page. All views, comments, likes, and shares during the promotion of the ad are also attributed to the account, unlike in non-Spark Ads. 

Spark Ads are great if you want a more organic and less intrusive approach to advertising. It’s also a good option if you want to increase your TikTok account’s followers and visibility. 


Carousel Ads allows you to feature multiple images in a slideshow format, where you can link each image to the same or to a unique URL. You can also set a different caption per image. Carousel Ads will appear on the BuzzVideo app, instead of on TikTok itself.

You can use Carousel ads in different ways. First, it can serve as a catalog, where you showcase your different products or services. You can also use it to feature a specific product instead, with the images showing a different product feature each. 

Carousel Ad specs are:

  • You can provide 2-10 images
  • Dimension: 640×640, or 1200×628
  • File Size: ≤500 KB
  • File Type: .jpg, .png

IV. How Much Are TikTok Ads?

Now you’re probably wondering, how much does a TikTok ad cost? The answer is it depends. The cost of your TikTok ad will vary depending on the ad format that you choose, your ad campaign objective, your target audience, and the industry that you are in. 

TikTok also requires a minimum of $500 campaign budget, unlike Facebook where you can start a campaign for as low as $1. They also use a cost-per-mille metric (CPM) instead of cost-per-click (CPC). This means that an advertiser will be paying $10 for 1000 views. 

Of course, the more large-scale your ad is, the more expensive it will be. While TikTok doesn’t publish their pricing, it is said that Brand Takeovers can cost from $20,000 to $200,000. Branded Hashtags, on the other hand, can cost up to $100,000. 

While TikTok Ads is not the most low-cost option out there, if you create an engaging and personalized ad for your target audience, you’ll be able to maximize your ad budget. Who knows, your ad might even go viral! 

V. Who Can Use TikTok Ads?

A. Brands marketing to customers 30 and under

People tend to gravitate toward a specific social media platform, and TikTok is no exception. Their audience is mostly Gen Z, with 66% of them under 30 years old, and 41% between 16 to 24 years old. 

While there are older users on the platform, it’s still safe to say that the younger your demographic is, the more success you’ll find on TikTok. 

B. Brands targeting women, especially those aged 18 to 25

TikTok audience skews toward women. For example, for the age group 18 to 25 years old, 24.7% of them are women, while 18.1% are male. Certain industries that target women, such as cosmetics, fashion, and body care, tend to find success in TikTok as well.

C. Brands with (or hoping to build) a strong presence in Asia

In 2020 alone, there are 300 million downloads for TikTok in Southeast Asia. It’s definitely one of the fastest-growing and most popular platforms in Asia, particularly in Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. So if you’re looking to build your brand there, now is the time to start.

D. Brands that are geared towards fun, lighthearted content

Your branding style and your content will also dictate your ad’s success. TikTok’s audience prefers funny and energetic content, so if your content is not like that, then you will struggle on the platform. 

This doesn’t mean that only specific products can advertise on TikTok, though. For you to achieve your advertising goals, you need to adapt your content to the audience. Even if you’re selling credit cards or hearing aids, if you can make your ad more lighthearted and relatable, you can still engage your audience.

However, be careful not to overdo it! Make sure your ad is still in line with your brand identity, and that you won’t ruin your reputation for the sake of making a funny ad. 

E. Small businesses hoping to gain new audience

A great thing about TikTok is the potential to go viral. Even if you don’t have a million followers, a well-timed and creative ad can still go to the front page of the app.

If you’re a small business, you should consider TikTok as one of your marketing strategies to grow your business. By pushing out relevant content to your audience, and hopping on the right trends, you’ll be able to leverage the high audience reach and high engagement rate of the app.

Make sure your TikTok page is on point as well. Create an eye-catching logo design with the help of our logo maker, pick a catchy username, and consistently produce engaging organic content so that when people visit your page, they would want to follow and engage with you.

VI. What Are The Benefits of TikTok Ads?

A. Younger audience reach

TikTok belongs to the top five most preferred social media platforms of Gen Zs, with 68% of those surveyed saying they use TikTok. 

The reason is because short form videos are pretty popular among the young generation. Not to mention, TikTok’s technology is highly addicting. And this user generated content is not only unique but also authentic and wildly entertaining. 

If Gen Z and Millennials are your target audience, TikTok is the way to go with 38.9% of its global users are aged 16-24. 

B. One of the world’s most visited website

Late of 2021 when Tiktok held the number one most visited website position in some days, it trumped regular favorites including Google, Facebook, and YouTube. And it has done this stunning feat in about four years. 

In 2023, although Google retained the top position, TikTok still belongs to the top ten most visited sites. With more than 2 billion visitors, TikTok has really taken a foothold on social media space. 

Before 2022 ends, it lead the list of most downloaded apps with at least 672 million downloads

C. Has the potential to go viral

What differentiates TikTok from other social media platforms is it can make any content go viral and it doesn’t have to come from a well-known creator. Hence, people and brands can become famous overnight.

Unlike other social media where the name of the brand carries the weight, TiKTok’s technology allows a brand with good content to be seen by a wider audience even if they don’t follow this account. 

It also has a wide array of features that can generate trends. So a brand that goes on to promote a product or a service can make use of its community, by using things like hashtags, brand takeovers, and more. 

D. TikTok’s format is highly engaging

One of the main reasons why TikTok has been so successful is because it emphasizes the one piece of content that gets the most engagement – short-form videos. Whether it be on Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram, creative short-form videos always grab users attention when scrolling across the timeline.

Mostly because it’s unfamiliar. TikTok focuses on short-form video more than any other network. It also uses a unique layout—showing users the For You discovery page instead of a home feed—and has its own unique style that focuses on audio effects and authenticity.

VII. How To Create A TikTok Ad

Step 1: Sign Up or Log In

Sign up for an account on TikTok Ads Manager (if you don’t have an account yet). If you are a user already, just log on the platform. 

Click on the Campaign menu at the top. You’ll see the Create button.

Clicking on it will prompt a question of whether you want a simplified or customized version. 

Either option will ask for your objectives. 

Step 2: Choose your objectives

TikTok Ads provides three major objectives: Awareness, Consideration, and Conversion.

The main goal of an Awareness objective is to show your ad to the most number of people possible to your target audience and budget. But that’s it, it only shows ads. 

Consideration has four more specific goals: traffic, video views, lead generation, community interaction. 

  • Traffic – the goal is to send the viewers to your target destination (page, content, website)
  • Video views — the goal is to boost video views and engagements (comments, likes, and shares)
  • Lead generation — the goal is to gather leads for your other campaigns or business goals
  • Community interaction – the goal is to encourage viewers to follow your page or visit your profile

The third of the major objectives is Conversion, which has two specific aims: either to promote your app or to drive website conversions (add to carts, downloads, sales, etc).

Step 3: Name your campaign and set the budget

TikTok will provide you an option to do a “Smart performance campaign”. This allows TikTok to maximize your outcomes with less of your input. If you want to fully customize and control specific details of your campaign, specifically the budget, you can toggle this off. 

Below this option is the campaign name box. Feel free to customize the name of your ad campaign. 

After the name, three more questions are required to be answered: split testing, campaign budget optimization, and set campaign budget

Split testing – if you toggle this on, TikTok will directly give more options later on about creating two formats of your targeting, bidding & optimization, and creative. This will give you the ability to look into the effectiveness of each campaign. 

Campaign budget optimization – this will optimize your budget so that it achieves your goal with less input from your end. 

Campaign budget – this is the part where you indicate how much is your budget. There will be a minimum amount depending on your country. 

Step 4: Select placements, creatives, and targeting

In this page, you’ll be asked certain questions about the placement of your ads.

a. Website or TikTok instant page – Click whether you like your audience to be taken to your TikTok page or to your website

b. Provide your TikTok pixel code if you have one

c. Placements – choose between automatic placements or manual placements. We suggest going for the automatic placements as TikTok’s algorithm is highly effective at targeting where the ads will drive the maximum results for your goal. 

d. Creative type – by toggling on, TikTok will combine and select your many creatives (captions, text, audio, video) depending on what combination will drive the best results. 

e. Targeting – You can choose between Automatic targeting and Manual targeting. Manual lets you select your audience and Automatic allows TikTok to do so for you. If you choose the custom ones, you’ll be free to pick the demographics and other audience information. But if you choose Manual, you can only select the language and the country.

f. Budget and schedule – You can edit your budget again here and also provide the schedule. 

g. Bidding and optimization – depending on your chosen objectives in the previous page, you’ll be presented with several selections about bidding. For example, you can choose either to save your budget for the long run or spend it fully and get your desired results. 

Step 5: Create your ad

Name your ad creative and provide more details. 

Select whether your creative is a single image or a video. Of course, since TikTok is famous for short videos, you need to focus on video ads. However, still images are great for carousels too. Just provide voice overs, captions, and more texts if need be. 

First, you need to upload the video. Second, you write down the caption. Third, add some interactive add ons such as cards and stickers. And fourth, look at the preview of the ad to the right side. 

Then click Submit. Once submitted, TikTok admins will review your ad and will have it running once ok.

VIII. How To Promote A TikTok Post

You can also use an existing video that you have in your account and use that as your ad. This is done by using TikTok Promote

Step 1: Go to your TikTok account

First, go to your TikTok account. Select a video that you want to promote. You can use any video, but we recommend using your best-performing one.

Step 2: Click the three-line dot

Click the three-line dot on the right-hand side of the screen. Then click Promote on the options.

Step 3: Choose your advertising goal

Choose from the options available: Boost account (which includes getting more profile views, video views, and followers), More website visits, and More messages. Choose the one that best fits your goals. 

Step 4: Choose your audience

You can choose the Default audience in which TikTok will automatically choose for you, or Custom, where you can specifically choose which audience you want to target based on gender, age, and interest.

Step 5: Choose your budget and duration

In this step, you can choose how much you want to spend on the ad and for how long you want it to run. You can also set your payment method here. Once you’re done, click Pay so you can start promoting your ad. 

IX. How To Track and Measure Your TikTok Campaign

Step 1: Click on the reporting tab

Using the same account and platform, click the Reporting at the main menu section at the top. 

Click on the Create button. This will ask two options: customized or templates-based. The first option allows you to select your metrics. The second option has pre-made metrics.

Step 2: Create your report

FIrst, the customized version. Don’t forget to name the report. Then at the far left is a list of data you want to be displayed. Once displayed, feel free to filter the items and save or download the final look. 

Second, the templated version. It provides reports for either the ad group performance or just the ad performance. You can still filter and click on the items you like to see. 

X. TikTok vs. Other Social Media Ads

Among the most popular social media platforms offering advertising options are TikTok, Meta (including Instagram), YouTube and Twitter. 

When comparing TikTok and Facebook advertising costs, it’s generally observed that TikTok’s costs are lower. However, costs vary depending on targeting options, ad format, and ad placement. The average CPC on TikTok is $1.63, while the average CPM is around $10.5. In contrast, Facebook’s average CPC is around $1.72, and the average CPM is around $8.91.

When it comes to YouTube and TikTok, they both offer free business account setup, but there is a difference in ad spend requirements. 

TikTok has a $500 minimum ad spend, while YouTube Ads offers $100 in free credits when you spend $50 on video ads. Although TikTok’s requirement may seem like a disadvantage, it’s worth noting that advertising on TikTok is still in its early stages and the platform is rapidly growing in popularity. In comparison, Facebook is a more established platform that offers a wider range of advertising options and features.

While TikTok Ads may have a higher upfront cost, they can be more affordable in the long term. In contrast, Facebook Ads offer more features and the ability to advertise on Instagram. We recommend businesses to test TikTok Ads while they’re still cheap and new. It’s also important to note that both platforms offer various targeting options, ad formats, and ad placements that can impact the overall cost and effectiveness of an ad campaign.

They both differ in terms of cost. But you have to understand your goals first and your target audience. Because either is a perfect choice for it. 

By comparing and contrasting the advertising costs, account setup, and long-term affordability of both platforms, businesses can make an informed decision about which platform is best suited to their advertising needs.

XI. Conclusion

TikTok advertising is relatively new compared to other social media platforms. But make no mistake. With its monstrous growth in the past few years, it’s no wonder that it may soon take over the leading social media companies. 

So take advantage of its advertising technologies now and its massive audience base while it’s much cheaper and unsaturated. 

And if you are serious about growing your brand on TIkTok, apart from advertising, there are other organic strategies you need to excel at. 

First, make sure to level up your TIkTok page. Second, place a beautiful and appropriate logo and maximize the bio with links and landing pages. Lastly, create engaging content.

Don’t forget other social media platforms as well. If you need help, we have templates for Facebook logos, Facebook Ads, Instagram Stories, YouTube Banners, and more.

We hope you can start your TikTok branding and advertising journey with this step-by-step guide in mind. Bookmark now so you won’t get lost. 

Start here