Check out the latest platform to woo brands: TikTok. We have created this advertising guide to help keep track of what type of ads you can and can not run on the platform.

Today I want to talk about TikTok Advertising and what the fastest growing platform among young adults (next to Snap Ads) has in store for us all.

Updated July 16th, 2020. Originally published November 16th, 2019.

TikTok is the fastest growing global destination for short-form mobile videos. We know that TikTok has been running ads since end of 2018. There is a self serve ad platform in limited beta right now:

Execs from the app have been selling the self-serve model to buyers over the last quarter, according to a recent pitch deck sent to agencies across Europe. TikTok outlined its plan to test letting advertisers across the U.K., France, Italy and the U.S. buy ads through its ads manager platform rather than a member of the app’s sales team. It’s not a fully self-serve model yet, as TikTok reps are still needed to run the ads once the advertiser has bought them. The model was trialed in the U.S. at the start of the year.

Until that is released to the wider public…. You will have to go directly to TikTok. When you buy ads with the team, you have three pricing options on the platform:

  • CPC: cost per click model you are use to on other ad platform
  • CPM: cost per thousands, which is still a thing
  • Optimized (CPA): cost-per-acquisition figure that target ads to people most likely to convert. However, you pay with a CPC model. Could be interesting for those wanting a CPA model to optimize by click, conversion, views or reach

TikTok Pixel

Luckily TikTok has already figured out they need to provide marketers with a pixel to help track how successful our campaigns are doing. You can connect the TikTok pixel to your Google Tag Manager out of the box. There also is a Pixel helper similar to other ad platforms. You can build rules to define what a conversion is and what it takes to achieve a conversion.

You can also work with a 3rd party company including Appsflyer, Doubleclick, Flashtalking and Singular to verify that TikTok is delivering on their ad spend.

TikTok Demographics

This section is going to focus on the USA. Beyond the image taken above from a Digiday article that was European focused.

TikTok has 27M (million) MAU (monthly active users) in the United States broken out as the following:

Age: 85% are under 35 (Gen Z and Millennial)

  • 69% are 13 – 24
  • 31% are 25+

Gender: Female 60% and Male 40%
Operating System: Android 46% and Apple 54%

The average user spends 40 minutes / day on the platform. 34 minutes / day if you are Gen Z and 44 minutes / day if you are Millennial. Not bad considering the average user opens the app 9 times / day.

TikTok Audience Overlap with Snap, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Reddit.

TikTok Audience Overlap

TikTok Ad Targeting

We don’t just want to have tons of targeting options and not have a solution to see what is and is not working. This is something ad platforms like LinkedIn, Pinterest and Snap took a lot longer to figure out. The targeting is barebones right now but it’s a good start.

Audience Targeting

  • Interest-Based: Beauty, Food, Travel…ect. See image below
  • Custom: Blacklist, Whitelist, Lookalike
  • Pixel

TikTok Interest Targeting

Demographic Targeting

  • Age: 13 – 17, 18 – 24, 25 – 34, 35 – 44, 45 – 54, 55+
    • See note below about age gating advertising
  • Gender: Male & Female
  • Location: US, JP, IN
    • no zip/postal targeting but city targeting is available in some countries
  • Language: French, English, Japanesse,..ect

Technology Targeting

  • Carrier: provider in each country above
  • Operating SystemL iOS, Android
  • Network Type: Wifi, 4G, 3G, 2G

TikTok’s content algorithm is currently powered by a similar recommendation system, per sources. The app is able to recognize what content is in a video, like a dog or a coffee cup, which is useful not only for recommendations in the feed but also could power the advertising system. Digiday.

TikTok Will Age Gate Their Advertising

  • All ages can sign up for TikTok in the US. Starting February 27th, there is a different experience for over and under 13. Under 13-year-old users are not advertised to and we do not collect any data about them as users.
    1. With this experience in tact, we are fully FTC and COPPA compliant.
  • Advertisers can employ age targeting, to ensure certain messages are only served to particular users.
  • In-Feed advertising must feature subjects that are 18 or older.

TikTok Ad Formats

5 Way You Can Advertising on TikTok

There are tons of ad format options you can run direct on TikTok if you work with the ad and sales team. You have In-Feed Video, Branded Takeover, Top View, Hashtag Challenge and Brand Lens. Lets dig a bit deeper into each one.

In-Feed Video

This is similar to buying ads inside Facebook or Instagram feed or buying ads on Pinterest feed. I bet this will be the more competitive ad unit that TikTok offers.

What is this?

  • 5-15 seconds long – full-screen – clickable – Sound On video experiences
  • Combination of Sound and full-screen driving CTRs between 1 – 3%

Why this ad format?

  • Choices around how to manage your In-Feed:
    1. Fixed CPM reservation buys (branding)
    2. TikTok Ads, our new auction ads product.
  • Optimize your unit to drive awareness (CPM buy), to drive clicks (CPC), or to drive sales (oCPC – TikTok’s newest buy type, optimizing for conversions).
  • Drive significant engagement (avg. 5% ER) and click to site (1-3% CTR)

Branded Takeover

If you have ever seen a site taken for a video game launch like Halo. This is that but for inside the TikTok app. This is perfect for brand and product launches. Not sure how well it will drive purchase intent right away.

What is this?

  • Unit appears right when users open TikTok, and is the first thing users will see, day-of. Formats available (all full screen):
    1. 3-second long still image’
    2. 5-second Video

Why this ad format?

  • Achieve optimal reach the day of your takeover – owned entirely by your brand
  • Drive users to an external URL destinations or to the native Hashtag Challenge page (to maximize Challenge traffic day-of)
  • Currently, brands averaging anywhere between 7 – 10%+ CTR

Top View

I consider this that auto-play video no one wants or asked for when you open an app or site. Someone will by this…

What is this?

  • Top View evolves the Brand Takeover concept, and combines with the first in-feed position. After :03s, video seamlessly becomes the first in-feed post.
  • Top View units are sound-on throughout the entire experience.

What’s this achieving?

With Top View, we amplify the premium quality of a Takeover – continuing to Reach everyone on platform, now seamlessly integrating the native experience of an in-feed unit – all in a Sound-On experience.

The Ultimate Launch Moment.

Own your moment in this upfront, extensive, premium real estate. To date, Top Views in China have been driving 25 – 40% stronger CTR than their Brand Takeover counterparts, and often have 50% of views reach 5s.

Hashtag Challenge

Be careful what you wish for. We have all known brands who did the hashtag challenge and it went sideways. Make sure you understand the downside of this.

What is this?

TikTok’s Signature Ad Product – a User Generated Branded Content Machine. Tap into on our audience’s natural tendency to create & share their own content. Invite audiences to follow a prompt and film themselves participating in the “Challenge” – using the assigned #Hashtag. Employ influencers – the fuel behind the Challenge – to distribute the Challenge prompt through their authentic and original voice

Branded Lens

Snap has lens and charges 5 figures for one day. TikTok has one too.

What is this?

Produced in-house, we can create 2D, 3D & AR lenses, to radically transform our audience’s environment. We’ll partner with brands to curate their own experience, granting them a top spot in our ‘Trending’ tab for 6 days. In-Feed media can drive users directly into the Lens experience.

64% of our users have used face filters or lenses. Encourages deeper engagement, with longer time spent, sampling and product discovery. Pair with a Challenge, to encourage continued use and exposure.

43% would like to use a computer-generated try-on for retail, clothing, beauty etc.

That is it for this week and all the research we could dig up on advertising on TikTok and our complete guide to the ad platform. We will continue to update this artile as we get new information.

TikTok Ad Specs

Image Ads Specifications

TikTok Ads Manager support both image ad and video ad formats.
 
The two tables below lists the specifications for the News Feed App Series ad placements for image ads and specifications for the TikTok ad placements and  News Feed App Series ad placements for video ads on the TikTok.

 
 
News Feed App Series Image Ad
 
Placement
 
BuzzVideo:
  • BuzzVideo in-feed ad
  • BuzzVideo details page
  • BuzzVideo video post-roll ad
  • BuzzVideo in-feed story
 
TopBuzz:
  • TopBuzz in-feed ad
  • TopBuzz details page
 
Babe:
  • Babe in-feed ad
  • Babe details page
 
 
 
Ad Composition
Image creative + brand or app name + ad description
File Type
.JPG or .PNG
Image Resolution
No restrictions. We suggest a resolution ≥1200*628px.
No restrictions. We suggest a resolution  ≥375*604px or ≥1200*628px.
File Size
no specific restrictions, ≤500 KB is suggested
App Name or Brand Name
 
For app names, we support 4-40 characters (latin) and 2-20 (asian characters).
 
For brand names, we support 2-20 characters (latin) and 1-10 (asian characters). 
 
Note: 
  • Emojis cannot appear in the app name or brand name.
  • Punctuations and spaces will also occupy characters.
  • Depending on phone model and operating system, longer text can be at risk for not showing completely on the screen display.
Ad Description
 
For descriptions, we support 12-100 characters (latin) and 6-50 (asian characters). 
 
Note: 
  • Emojis, “{ }” and “#” cannot appear in the description.
  • Punctuations and spaces will also occupy characters.
  • Depending on phone model and operating system, longer text can be at risk for not showing completely on the screen display.
 
 
Suggestions for better ad performance and user experience:
  1. Keep key creative elements in the middle of the screen. This prevents them from being covered by the description or logo and to avoid being slightly cropped on the sides in order to fit different display sizes.
  1. Ad creative should be localized; languages other than the local official language where the ad will be shown should not be shown too often.

Note: In order to make it easier for you to create and upload image ad creative, we have developed the image cropping tool. With this tool, you’re able to upload images of any aspect ratio and resize those unqualified images to meet the image aspect ratio requirement. 

Video Ads Specifications

 
News Feed App Series Image Ad
 
Placement
 
BuzzVideo:
  • BuzzVideo in-feed ad
  • BuzzVideo details page
  • BuzzVideo video post-roll ad
  • BuzzVideo in-feed story
 
TopBuzz:
  • TopBuzz in-feed ad
  • TopBuzz details page
 
Babe:
  • Babe in-feed ad
  • Babe details page
 
 
 
Ad Composition
Image creative + brand or app name + ad description
File Type
.JPG or .PNG
Image Resolution
No restrictions. We suggest a resolution ≥1200*628px.
No restrictions. We suggest a resolution  ≥375*604px or ≥1200*628px.
File Size
no specific restrictions, ≤500 KB is suggested
App Name or Brand Name
 
For app names, we support 4-40 characters (latin) and 2-20 (asian characters).
 
For brand names, we support 2-20 characters (latin) and 1-10 (asian characters). 
 
Note: 
  • Emojis cannot appear in the app name or brand name.
  • Punctuations and spaces will also occupy characters.
  • Depending on phone model and operating system, longer text can be at risk for not showing completely on the screen display.
Ad Description
 
For descriptions, we support 12-100 characters (latin) and 6-50 (asian characters). 
 
Note: 
  • Emojis, “{ }” and “#” cannot appear in the description.
  • Punctuations and spaces will also occupy characters.
  • Depending on phone model and operating system, longer text can be at risk for not showing completely on the screen display.
 
 
Suggestions for better ad performance and user experience:
  1. Keep key creative elements in the middle of the screen. This prevents them from being covered by the description or logo and to avoid being slightly cropped on the sides in order to fit different display sizes.
  1. Ad creative should be localized; languages other than the local official language where the ad will be shown should not be shown too often.

Note: In order to make it easier for you to create and upload image ad creative, we have developed the image cropping tool. With this tool, you’re able to upload images of any aspect ratio and resize those unqualified images to meet the image aspect ratio requirement.

TikTok Creative Best Practices

You can checkout the support pages on TikTok for best practices for creative you want to run. TikTok also also supports a suite of creative tools for the ad platform:

Resources

  1. Digiday: TikTok is quietly testing ads
  2. ADWeek: Biddable Ads Are Coming to TikTok, Opening Up the Popular Platform to More Marketers
  3. Digiday: TikTok is testing interest-based ad targeting
  4. Digiday: Pitch deck: TikTok is testing cost-per-click ad pricing
  5. Turner: Rise of TikTok
  6. TikTok Business Help Center: Ad specs