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Guide to advertise on TikTok in 2021

Guide to advertise on TikTok in 2021

TikTok has blossomed into the seventh largest social media network in the world, which makes it very fertile advertising ground. Even better, their new self-serve marketing platform has made advertising on TikTok accessible to small businesses.

Advertising on TikTok will help you reach a young, energetic audience that loves to share great content. But with such a new marketing platform, it can be difficult to know how to do it effectively. We’re here to help.

The TikTok app has been downloaded over 2 billion times, including 165 billion downloads in the United States alone. And it appears the TikTok trend is climbing fast.

That large audience isn’t idle either. The youngest users, kids 4 through 15, spend about 80 minutes per day on TikTok, nearly equaling the engagement time of YouTube for the same demographic. And, on average, TikTok users open the app eight times a day.

Brands selling to well-funded gens Z and Y

While the audience on TikTok is big, it doesn’t span every demographic—yet. For now, brands that target generation Z and younger millennials will find the largest pool of potential customers.

Most of TikTok’s audience is young: 63% of U.S. TikTok users are between 10 and 29 years old.

They are starting to grow up, though. Usage trends show an increase in 25- to 54-year-old TikTokers and a decrease in the youngest adults on the platform.

Plus, since 51.8% have an average income of $75K or more, TikTok users are generally doing pretty well for themselves.

Unlike other social media networks, TikTok didn’t start in the United States, and it shows. India has the greatest number of TikTok users, and other nations like Russia, Mexico, and Pakistan all have tens of millions of people on the platform.

In all, the app is available in 141 countries and 39 languages worldwide.

Choosing your ad option on TikTok

TikTok offers several options for paid advertising.

In-feed video ads
In-feed ads are short-form videos that appear in users’ news feed on the For You page. They look similar to native TikToks, so they blend organically into the feed. Right now, they are the only ad option available to self-service advertising customers.

Branded hashtag challenge

In a branded hashtag challenge, a brand asks TikTok users to videotape themselves performing something, like a choreographed dance, and then post it with a specific hashtag.

These ads are placed at or near the top of the Discovery page, and a click on the hashtag leads visitors to a collection of TikToks from the same challenge.

Brand takeover

Brand takeovers are full-screen, three- to five-second video ads that show up as soon as someone opens the app. The ad will also show up in the For You feed. You can include a clickable hashtag or website link as well.

TopView ads

Like brand takeovers, TopView ads display on the full screen. The difference is that these ads can be 60 seconds long, and they are on a delayed play, so they don’t start with app startup.

Branded effects
Branded effects are custom stickers, AR filters, and lenses users can add to their own video. They’re similar to Instagram’s AR Filters. Each new branded effect is available for 10 days.

How Much do TikTok Ads Cost?

With the exception of their pay-per-click (PPC) in-feed ads, TikTok doesn’t officially publish their advertising pricing. However, Ad Age wrote about a leaked pitch deck in 2019.

Prices ranged from $50k to $150k for things like branded hashtag challenges and brand takeovers.

In-feed ads are more accessible. They’re biddable with a minimum spend of $50 per campaign and $20 per ad group. Digiday reports TikTok CPMs “as low as $1.” And this experiment resulted in a cost per click (CPC) of $0.19 and a cost per thousand (CPM) impressions of $1.82.

TikTok Advertising Best Practices

Creating an in-feed ad is easy on TikTok. Creating an ad that efficiently delivers new fans and customers is a little more challenging. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you launch your first TikTok ad campaign.

Be authentic

On a platform that says sharing creativity is its mission, your ads will need to have some flare. But you can’t be creative at the expense of your brand identity.

TikTok says right in their Business Center Help page that it wants you to be authentic. “Creative should be consistent with your brand image and resonate with your target audience. Serious brands should have serious ads, trendy brands should have trendy ads, you get the picture.”

TikTok Australia’s general manager of global business solutions Brett Armstrong doubled down on the notion of retaining your brand identity. “[The] best practice for brands would be to stay true to their story, telling it how they want it told while also thinking about TikTok’s unique format—ensuring content is authentic to the platform and the way people use it.”

Redbull is a great example.

The energy drink manufacturer is known for bringing high-octane sports to the world. Their TikToks stay true to that mission.

Use influencers wisely

Influencers are creators who will partner with you to share your message with their audience. Pick the right ones and you’ll see big returns on your TikTok ad spend.

For example, a Tomoson study showed that for every $1 spent on influencer marketing, a brand could see $6.50 in return.

When you’re searching for the right influencer, look for the following:

  • Relevance. An influencer known for makeup tutorials might not be the best option to promote your energy drink.
  • Influence. Both their follower count and their engagement metrics (likes, shares) matter.
  • Location. Whether your brand is local or national, you want an influencer’s core audience to have access to your products.

You can find influencers in the Users tab of the discovery page. Just enter a topic in the search bar.

Use Smart Video Soundtrack

Smart Video Soundtrack is a free creative tool offered by TikTok. It automatically pairs appropriate music with your video.

Not only does music make your ad more fun for the viewer, but it will also make it more discoverable. That’s because TikToks show the track that’s playing in a scroll on the bottom of that screen.