TikTok quickly became one of the most popular platforms on social media, particularly with the younger generation. The platform itself is extremely unique, consisting of only short-form videos, so it can be hard for brands to find where they fit in. Advertising on TikTok is a great opportunity for brands that struggle with generating organic content to build a presence.  

Using a new platform can be daunting, so here is a breakdown of what you can expect when advertising on TikTok.

Ad Types

Before you get into the platform, you need to know which type of paid advertising you are going to use.

In-feed video ads are most likely what you are going to be using, since they are the only ad option TikTok offers that you can publish yourself with the self-serving platform. Other advertising options require that you work with a TikTok Ad Manager. In-feed video ads appear on your audience’s For You Page with the rest of their content.

A branded hashtag challenge does not require the same content creation an in-feed video ad requires. Instead, you propose a hashtag your audience can use in a video of themselves. You have probably seen many brands do this on TikTok. The placement of these are also different as they appear on the top of the Discovery page. This option is designed for large brands with a widespread audience.

Brand takeovers are not really at all what they sound like. It is a full-screen ad that lasts about three to five seconds, but you cannot just scroll through, you have to wait for it to end, which is what differentiates it from an in-feed video ad. These ads also appear in two places, in-feed or as soon as they<who? open the app. This ad can also drive users to a website, which is important for those with the goal of creating website traffic.

The longer version of a brand takeover is a TopView ad; instead of only 3-5 seconds, these are 60 seconds, and do not appear when the app is opened but are delayed and appear randomly while you are scrolling through your For You Page feed.

Completely different than any of the above options are branded effects. These consist of stickers, filters and lenses users can add to their videos, similar to what you can do in Instagram.

Creating an Ad

To create an ad, you first have to create an account at the TikTok for Business page. All it asks is what country you are in and if your account is a business or individual account, then you are directed to a page where you make a username and password.

Once you are into the platform, you can create your campaign. If you have ever built ads in Spotify’s self-service platform, the interface is very similar to that set up. After you hit “create” you will have to pick the objective of your campaign, whether you are looking for awareness, which will show your ad to the maximum number of people, consideration which will either send people to a destination or get more people to view your videos, or conversation which will drive actions on your website.

Once you have chosen your objective, you can create a specific ad group. It will ask you where your ad will be placed, whether you are promoting an app download or website, and how your profile will appear and how users will interact with you.

Then it asks if you want automated creative optimization. This is basically asking whether or not you want TikTok to help you build and test your ads and was created with small businesses in mind who may need extra help with content creation.

Next you pick your audience. You can upload a custom audience, and TikTok even gives you the option to install a TikTok pixel on your website and it will build an audience off of that data. You can also filter an audience based on demographic and interest specifications, just like you can on Facebook Advertising.

The last two steps of creating an ad group are setting a budget and bidding plan. You can set a daily budget or lifetime budget, and ads can either be run all day or at specific times. In terms of bidding, you can set an optimization goal, and set a limit on how much you will spend per click.

Once the ad group is set, you can add the assets. Upload the image or video creative you want to use and set your text and call to action. Then you are all set to click submit.

Before your ad is live, it will be reviewed by TikTok. Here is a list of the items TikTok is looking for when they review your ad.


According to a leaked pitch deck, prices for ads have a wide range. In-feed ads require a minimum spend of $50 per campaign and $20 per ad group. CPMs are as low as $1 but can also be as high as $10 because they are so new. You can anticipate a minimum $500 investment if you want to start a campaign.

Other ad types are a different story. Hashtag challenges and brand takeovers range anywhere from $50k to $150k, which makes sense as they require working with an Ad Manager and are designed for larger businesses.


You can monitor your campaign’s performance in the dashboard. This will show your overall CPM, CPC, CPA, CTR conversions and other metrics, and your current ad spend.

If you want to look at each ad level, just click on the campaign from the dashboard. When you narrow down the ad you are looking at, you can see more detailed metrics about audiences filtered by date range.


Overall, this is just a guide for what you can expect when you decide you want to do TikTok Advertising. There is always a learning curve in terms of using a platform, but now you can be prepared and know what information you need, and what you should consider in terms of content and budget.