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10 min read

Getting Started with TikTok Ads

This article was updated on: 07.02.2022

Wondering how to advertise your business on TikTok?

Impression gained early access to the TikTok Ads beta, and we’ve put it to good use! Now that we’ve racked up considerable experience running campaigns we’re really excited to share our beginner’s guide to TikTok advertising.

In this blog post, you’ll discover how to tell if TikTok Ads are right for your business, and how to create TikTok campaigns from start to finish.

What is TikTok advertising?

With more than 800 million active users worldwide, TikTok presents a substantial opportunity to advertisers. What started in Shanghai as, a lip sync app, has grown into a cultural phenomenon, as TikTok surpassed Twitter and Snapchat in popularity.

At a time when people are increasingly more difficult to reach with effective brand messages, TikTok provides a way to tap into vast, engaged audiences at key touch points throughout the day via the emotive, engaging medium of full-screen video ads.

TikTok is a visual, video-based app. Users can record and share 15-second videos with intuitive built-in editing features like filters, effects, and music. Although lip syncing and comedy are core to the app, it has expanded to other niches, such as fashion, health, food, pets, business, and even short films. 

Users are typically highly engaged, spending on average 52 minutes a day using the app. They can follow their favorite creators, and discover new content by scrolling the ‘For You’ discovery feed. The algorithm learns your preferences and serves user-generated content and ads that are likely to resonate with you.

The best TikTok creators have taken what it means to go viral to unprecedented new levels.  A part of this popularity is that it’s less saturated with ads than its older counterparts like Facebook and Instagram (at least for now).

In 2019, the app launched a beta version of its Paid Social ads offering. Big brands have been quick to pivot to TikTok Ads, with names like Bumble, Fenty Beauty and EE using TikTok ads in unique campaigns. TikTok Ads offers advanced audience targeting and ad creation features. When used effectively, it can help businesses engage with lucrative pools of users.

However, not every business is positioned to benefit from TikTok Ads. Before investing your time and budget into TikTok advertising, here’s two questions you need to ask yourself to determine if this ad platform is right for your business.

Is my target audience on TikTok?

First, consider the target demographic for your business. TikTok is most popular with Gen Z, with 66% of TikTok’s users younger than 30 (41% are ages 16–24). Trending videos tend to be from this demographic, and many focus on younger topics, such as university or school.

If your audience skews younger, and you’re looking for new ways to engage with them, then happy days!

But if this isn’t your audience, then TikTok is probably not the right platform for you right now.

Yet… while TikTok’s current audience is predominantly young, it is fast-growing. As TikTok matures, its user base will diversify – which might make reaching older demographics, or running B2B campaigns, much more successful.

Paid Social changes quickly, so it might still be worthwhile to learn more about TikTok ads. It’s easy and free to set up an account, and we’d advise you to install a tracking pixel on your website ASAP. This lets you track users on your site, and can help you see whether your customer base is on TikTok, as well as measure future campaigns.

Do you have the budget to advertise on TikTok?

Any new platform needs enough budget to test and measure effectively, you’re unlikely to start making significant returns in the first stage of any brand new campaign.

TikTok minimum spends may present some challenges for smaller advertisers, daily spends start from $50, significantly higher than other paid social platforms. The more complex your account becomes, with multiple campaigns and ad sets, the higher your spend will need to be.

Premium placements like Brand Takeover (presents a full-screen video presented on app open for five seconds) gaining maximum attention but can be costly. You also need to budget for TikTok-specific resource. Vertical video needs to grab attention, and your design team needs to really understand the platform. Stock videos, slideshows of images, and bland messaging is unlikely to resonate. Want to find out more? Check out the Drum’s collaboration with TikTok – ‘Don’t make ads. Make TikToks’

TikTok Brand Takeover Example (Too Faced Cosmetics)

However, we’ve found that predictions of very high costs were untrue. Impression was among the first UK agencies to gain beta access, and we can see how the platform has matured in a short space of time. In campaigns using In-Feed placements, TikTok proved to be a strong platform with far lower CPM and CPC costs than Facebook and Twitter. Check out our case study here.

How to launch a TikTok Ads campaign

If you have the right audience, and the budget, and decide that TikTok ads are a worthy investment for your business, here’s how to get started.

  1. Create a TikTok Account

To create your Business account, visit the TikTok Business home page and click on the Get Started button. Follow the instructions to create your account.

Once your account is created, the process for creating ads is relatively straightforward, with a similar interface to Paid Social self-serve systems.

  1. Create Your Ad Campaign

In the TikTok Ads dashboard, click the Campaign tab at the top of the page and then Create. Choose your campaign objective, which is the primary goal of your ad. 

At the time of writing, you can choose from top, middle or lower funnel objectives: Reach, Traffic, Video Views, Conversions, and App Install.

  1. Set up your Ad Group

You will then be able to set your variables for the ad group, including placements and targeting.

  • Placements

You can choose Automatic placements, or manually select placements to include or exclude placements on Bytedance’s (TikTok’s parent company) wider family of apps. Some placements are only available in some countries.

  • Ad Details

Depending on your campaign objective, your next steps will be to select your URL, profile photo and TikTok display name. You do not need to have a TikTok profile to run ad campaigns. 

  • Creative Type

Choose whether you will use Automated Creative, or manually create each ad.

Automated Creative Optimization will, in a similar way to Dynamic ads on Facebook and Google Display Network, automatically generate combinations of your creative assets (images, videos, and ad texts), and deliver high-performing combinations. Manual creative will give the advertiser more control over your ad appearance.

  • Targeting

This section lets you define the target audience for your ad group. Set parameters for location, age, gender, languages, interests, devices, and more to attract the right audience for your ads. 

Tip: you’ll get an idea of estimated audience size on the right hand side of the page. We usually start fairly broad, and narrow depending on performance data.

Tip: We recommend installing the TikTok Pixel before launching campaigns – which will allow you to create Custom Audiences based on website behaviour, and track website actions like Purchases or Leads attributed to your campaigns. To do this, head to Assets and then Create Pixel.

The base code will track visitors, but you should also create a conversion event for any website actions that signify a conversion (for instance, app downloads or form submissions). Create Events by clicking Assets and selecting Conversions.

You can then exclude Custom Audiences from prospecting campaigns, or use the data to to create new Lookalike audiences.

  • Budget & Schedule

Choose your desired budget, optimisation goal and bids. You can choose either a daily budget (the amount you’re willing to spend each day) or a total budget (the total amount you’re willing to spend for the duration of the schedule). 

Note: there’s minimum settings for the daily budget and total budget at the ad group level. Currently TikTok Ads quote the minimum daily budget at the ad group level as $20 – this is lower than the $50 a few months ago so we recommend checking here for the latest advice.

Also choose the scheduled duration for your ads. Dayparting allows you to select specific times of the day or week on which to run your ad. 

  • Bidding & Optimisation

The last step in the Ad Group section is to choose your optimisation goal. This should reflect the key metric you’re aiming for in the campaign. 

This will be tied into your Campaign Goal – you can choose to optimize for Conversion, Click, or Impression. Your bids will be optimized based on the goal you select – and ads will be served to the users most likely to complete your desired action – whether that’s a conversion, ad click, or video view.

  1. Set up your Ads

You’re nearly there! You can add up to 20 ads per Ad Group. As with most platforms, it’s best practice to experiment with a range of targeting options and creative before narrowing your ad down to the winning combinations.

Tip: Remember the Automated Creative Optimization tool we mentioned at At Group level? This will test a variety of asset combinations throughout your campaign and ultimately present the winning combination to your target audience. This’ll save time and resource if you don’t have a huge variety of assets.

To create your ads, choose from Image or Video ads. You should opt for Video – unless you’re looking to run image ads. This isn’t available on TikTok but on ‘News Feed App Series’ or ‘Hello’ – two other apps in the Bytedance family.

Upload your ready-made assets, or Choose Create a Video to use TikTok’s AI-powerd video creator tools. You can choose from a huge variety of templates, upload your own assets, customise with overlaid text and music.

Upload your video(s), choose the thumbnail, add some creative text and Call to Action and you’re ready to go.

For the fine print, like character count and thumbnail specs, head to TikTok’s advice pages here.

  1. Set up Billing and Payment

Follow the steps to fill out your Business Information, Tax Information, and (option but recommended) Business Verification. 

Choose your Payment Type:

  • Automatic Payment – add a card to your account, and pay for delivery charges on a recurring billing date or when you reach the billing threshold.
  • Manual Payment – Manually add balance before delivering your ads. Any charges will be deducted from your account balance as your ads run.
  1. Launch

Check your settings to make sure you’re happy with your Campaign and Ad Group settings. Then head back to Ad level and click Submit. Your campaign will go under review, and should start delivering shortly.


Exploring Tiktok Ads may seem overwhelming at first. However, TikTok offers a well-designed interface, and an impressive offering of design and automation tools, so if you follow our step-by-step guide and allow yourself some time to get to know the platform, you’ll be live on TikTok in no time. 

So your campaign is live, what’s next?

Optimising the campaigns can be challenging without in-house experience or agency support –  there’s not a huge amount of guidance available due to how new the platform is. A test and learn approach will go a long way, but if you’d like support to get your business started with TikTok Ads please get in touch.