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How to start using TikTok ads

Last updated: 26/10/2022

TikTok ads can be a powerful resource in a digital marketer’s tool belt. After all, TikTok is one of the world’s fastest-growing and most popular social media platforms . 

As the channel continues to grow, marketers are increasingly likely to get questions from management and clients about how businesses can take advantage. So, how do you go about advertising on TikTok, and should you try it out?

The case for TikTok ads

Here at Funnel, we’ve seen connections to TikTok grow by almost 500 percent over the last 12 months. That’s staggering growth!

Among those making connections to the channel are some of the most data-driven agencies and biggest ad spenders worldwide. So what do they know that other marketers don’t?

TikTok ads are cheap

Digital marketers and media buyers know that Facebook’s impression rates for their ads have gradually increased in price. It’s a smart business practice on Facebook’s part. They know they are the most dominant ad platform in the world and that more advertisers are competing, trying to outbid each other to get in front of their target audiences. 

However, on average, TikTok impression rates are 20 times cheaper than Facebook. Combined with the channel’s explosive growth (particularly with generation Z), it’s easy to see why the world’s savviest advertisers are flocking to it. 

Where do you start?

Once you’ve determined to explore TikTok ads, you’ll want to follow a few steps first. Think of these as some sort of TikTok advertising best practices. 

Tracking

Much like Facebook and other digital ad channels, you can install TikTok’s pixel on your website. This is an important first step since it will allow you to target visitors to your site with on-platform advertising. Plus, it’s super easy to implement. 

Targeting

Within TikTok, you’ll find 10 different targeting options, as shown in the graphic below. While some of these are self-explanatory, behavior and interest targeting deserve a bit of a deep dive. 

 

Behavior targeting is based on the actions that TikTok users take. For instance, by following certain types of accounts (say famous athletes or musicians) TikTok will categorize users as taking that action. That single user is then grouped with other users who have also taken that action. Pretty straightforward, right?

Interest targeting is a bit more complex. This type of targeting uses machine learning to categorize users with a shared interest. For example, if a user follows a few famous NBA basketball players, the platform may identify these users as having an interest in the NBA.

You can think of behavior and interest targeting as being based on short-term and long-term triggers, respectively. In either case, it’s probably best to start with broad targeting and then narrow it down through testing. 

What kind of ads should you create?

While specific ads creatives you develop will vary depending on the brand, the business goals, and your target audience, we have a few best practices. We generally follow the messaging framework below:

Stage of funnel

Goal of ad

Type of creative

Upper Funnel

Create demand

Education + value

Mid-funnel

Drive intent

Brand + USPs

Lower funnel

Conversions

Product + deals

 

With this framework in place, it’s important to then think about the content style on TikTok. The user-generated content tends to be more DIY rather than glossy, highly produced videos. So, if you run an ad creative that feels more like a Super Bowl TV spot, it will stick out like a sore thumb — likely leading to lower impressions and engagement. 

Generally, it’s best to follow the overall vibe of the platform.

A general script template

Again, each creative should be specific to each brand, audience, and business goals. However,, we’ve discovered that most successful TikTok ads follow the same format (at the time of this writing). 

0:00 - 0:05

The first five seconds are all about grabbing the viewer’s attention. Whether it’s something fun, surprising, bold, or even strange, you have to get them to stop scrolling and start watching. 

0:05 - 0:10

Once you’ve captured a viewer’s attention, it’s time to tease them with a  message they are about to consume quickly. This could be done by posing a question (i.e., “Wouldn’t you like to learn how to double your revenue in one month?”) or other cliffhangers. It queues the audience up to want to know more. 

0:10 - 0:20

The middle of the video should be reserved for the meat and potatoes of your ad’s story. Make sure you keep it short and sweet, though. Focus on one single message that you want the audience to remember. 

0:20 - 0:30

Now it’s time to bring it all home. At the close of your video ad, you’ll want to answer the question posed at the five-second mark to close the story loop. 

How to measure success on TikTok

So, you’ve followed the best practices in targeting and developing your ad creative. You’ve set your budget and distributed the ad. Now, how do you measure if the ad was successful?

We recommend focusing (at first) on the efficiency of your overall marketing spend. Rather than focusing purely on TikTok ad performance in a silo, you’re better off examining how your TikTok ads fared to the rest of your marketing ecosystem. Think about this: with TikTok ads in your marketing mix, did you see any change in your return on ad spend? If so, did it increase or decrease?

Also, it’s crucial to analyze performance against your goals. Was the purpose of TikTok advertising to increase brand awareness, drive demand, drive intent, increase conversion, or another metric?

See it in action

You can watch Alex break down the analysis for driving demand, driving intent, and conversion in the video above. You won’t want to miss that before you get started running TikTok ads yourself. Also, be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more tips about how you can become a more data-driven marketer. 


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