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How to Advertise on TikTok: A Step-by-Step Guide

by Oren Greenberg on

With over a billion active users across the globe, TikTok’s short-form video format commands unprecedented attention. 

It now presents a huge opportunity for businesses wanting to reach a vast and diverse audience.

This guide will walk you through the strategies we use at Kurve to get your brand in front of the right people. We specialize in digital marketing and know how to navigate and capitalize on TikTok's advertising landscape.

Let's get started.


What are TikTok Ads?

a lady showing her mobile after unboxing with a camera on the side and different icons (bell, heart, like)

TikTok ads offer a powerful way to connect with a massive, engaged audience. Their diverse formats go beyond static banners, such as:

  • In-Feed Video Ads blend with organic content for a natural brand showcase.
  • Branded Challenges encourage user participation, amplifying your message.
  • Format options like TopView ads and branded filters offer more ways to grab attention.

The key to TikTok's success lies in aligning your ads with the platform's style and your brand's personality.

For example, Kurve specializes in creating content that matches your identity and goals, as we did when we worked with Treecard. We recognized an opportunity to leverage TikTok Ads and lower their app install cost while increasing their app installs.

Types of TikTok Ads

TikTok offers a range of advertising options to help you reach your desired audience and achieve your marketing objectives. Let's break down the key ad types:

1. In-Feed Ads

a hand using a mobile with different icons (microphone, play, gears, cards, dollar, phone)

In-feed ads appear within a user's "For You" feed, mimicking the style and short-form format of regular TikTok videos. They blend with organic TikTok content, preventing a jarring user experience.

Seamless integration into the TikTok feed allows in-feed ads to receive high engagement rates, with users liking, commenting, and sharing them like regular TikTok videos. Including CTAs makes In-Feed Ads excellent for driving specific actions like website visits, app downloads, or purchases – it’s also a great method of user acquisition.

In-feed ads are great for brands looking for natural ads within the TikTok experience.

2. Brand Takeover

Brand takeover ads occupy the user's entire screen for a few seconds when they open the TikTok app. These ads can be static images (3 seconds) or videos (3-5 seconds).

These ads command the whole display, offering unparalleled visual real estate to capture attention. Only one advertiser can utilize a brand takeover per day in a particular category, guaranteeing zero distractions from competitors.

The exclusivity model ensures the user's attention is entirely on your ad, without other brands vying for their focus.

Brand takeover ads are great for brands with a major new product launch or a time-sensitive campaign.

3. TopView Ads

Top view ads merge the impact of brand takeovers with the extended format of an-feed ads. They appear immediately upon app launch. After three seconds, they transition into the first post in a user's "For You" feed, becoming a more standard in-feed video experience.

TopView ads support up to 60 seconds of full-screen video, allowing for more in-depth messaging.

It combines the immediate impact of brand takeover with a less intrusive, in-feed experience for longer-lasting engagement. The longer duration allows brands to craft more detailed narratives and create stronger emotional connections with the audience.

TopView ads are perfect for brands with products or campaigns that need more explanation or nuanced storytelling.

4. Branded Hashtag Challenges

a  lady using a big mobile holding a paper on the left side and different profile pictures on the upper part with envelope and phone icons

Branded hashtag challenges create a catchy, campaign-specific hashtag and design a challenge (like a dance or a specific action). Users then create and upload videos showcasing their take on the challenge, all using the branded hashtag.

The core of these challenges is encouraging users to produce videos inspired by your brand's theme. Users become brand ambassadors, spreading your message in their creative voices.

These challenges foster a sense of community and get your target audience actively involved with your brand. Widespread user participation also increases brand recognition and drives organic reach through virality.

5. Branded Effects

Branded effects are custom-designed filters, stickers, lenses, or special effects that users can apply to their TikTok videos. These might include branded face filters, interactive AR games, or virtual product overlays related to your brand and campaign.

Branded effects give users fun ways to personalize their content while incorporating elements of your brand. Users integrate your brand into their content, creating a deeper connection than simple ad exposure. Fun, unique effects can get users to share their videos, increasing organic reach and brand awareness.

This type of TikTok ad is ideal for brands with lighthearted personalities, those targeting creative demographics, or those aiming to create a memorable experience with their audience.

7 Steps to Set Up a TikTok Ad Campaign

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Now you know what type of adverts you can use on TikTok. Now it’s time to design and launch one of your own. 

Here's a step-by-step guide to launching your first campaign.

Step 1: Create a TikTok Ads Account

Creating a TikTok Ads manager account, from following this guide, will prompt you for basic information about your business, such as:

  • Country/Region
  • Business Name
  • Industry
  • Time Zone
  • Billing Currency

Then, think about your key reasons for advertising on TikTok. Are you focused on increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic, or boosting sales? Identifying this early helps streamline the setup process.

It's helpful to have your business details and advertising goals summarized beforehand. Clear and accessible information makes the TikTok business account sign-up process smooth and efficient.

Step 2: Set Campaign Objectives

A clear objective keeps your strategy focused and helps you make informed decisions throughout the ad creation. Be specific about what you want your TikTok ads to achieve. 

Some common objectives include:

  • Boosting brand awareness
  • Increasing website traffic
  • Generating leads
  • Driving app installs
  • Increasing sales

Once you've identified your goal, find your options for TikTok ad types that are the most suitable campaign objective.

For example, Kurve worked with Sweatcoin to increase app installs while lowering its advertising costs. We found the solution through the TikTok influencer marketing strategy that uses the power of virality that comes from TikTok video ads. 

Step 3: Target Your Audience

TikTok's powerful targeting options are what separate good campaigns from great ones. This ensures your ads reach those most interested in your message.

Here’s how to hone in on your audience:

  • Demographics: The basics like age, gender, location, and language.
  • Interests: Things your target audience is passionate about, such as gaming, fashion, beauty, travel, and more.
  • Behaviors: How your audience interacts with content on and off TikTok, such as watching videos, visiting websites, or app purchases.

Defining your audience increases the chances of your ads resonating and driving the desired result.

Step 4: Choose Your Ad Format

TikTok offers a diverse range of engaging ad formats, as discussed. Understanding their strengths and your goals helps you choose the most impactful approach.

For example, consider in-feed ads if you want a seamless blend with native content for product demos, as well as video shopping ads. 

You may want branded hashtag challenges to encourage user-generated content around a custom hashtag to boost brand awareness and go viral. There is also an opportunity for branded effects for playful engagement and making your brand part of the content creation process.

Step 5: Set Your Budget and Schedule

A careful budget and scheduling plan maximize the value of your TikTok advertising efforts. 

There are two main budgeting options:

  • A daily budget: caps your daily spending
  • A lifetime budget: limits your total spending for the entire TikTok campaign

When scheduling your campaign, choose the start and end dates, and consider optional dayparting to target specific times of day or days of the week when your target audience is most active.

Start with realistic expectations by researching industry and audience benchmarks. Then, align your campaign budget with your goals, as higher-visibility campaigns may need more investment. Monitor your campaigns and adjust budgets as needed.  

Step 6: Design Your Ad

The most important factor in a successful ad is authenticity. In other words, avoid overly polished or staged content. Hook viewers within the first few seconds using eye-catching visuals, catchy music, or engaging text overlays. 

Stay relevant by incorporating popular sounds, editing styles, or challenges. Ensure your brand message and desired action are crystal clear with strong CTAs. Always tailor your ad groups to the specifications of your chosen ad format.

Always adhere to TikTok's ad guidelines for content restrictions and best practices. Consider partnering with TikTok creators or specialized agencies to help develop ads that match the platform's unique style.

Step 7: Launch and Monitor Your Campaign

Once you've designed your ad and finalized your targeting, submit it for review. TikTok's approval process is usually quick, and you'll be notified when your ad is ready to go live. Upon approval, your ad will start running according to your chosen schedule.

TikTok's analytics dashboard is your best friend for understanding your campaign's performance. Pay close attention to key metrics like impressions, reach, engagement (likes, comments, shares), CTRs, and conversions). 

Don't just track data – analyze it! Identify what makes your top ads successful, and pause or modify those that underperform. Use your insights to refine your targeting or ad messaging.

TikTok Ads Best Practices

textfield on the upper part about approches for tiktok showing different icons (Check, chart, recording, microphone, mobile )

To maximize the impact of your TikTok advertising efforts, follow these crucial practices.

Be Authentic

Users are savvy and can spot salesy or staged content, especially the Gen Z audience. Craft ads that feel genuine, relatable, and in tune with the platform's playful spirit. Embrace a casual, less polished tone than traditional corporate messaging. 

Instead of talking about your brand, showcase it in action through real-life scenarios, demonstrations, or user-generated content.

Give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at your brand; it builds trust and approachability. Remember, TikTok users want content that feels like their friends could have made it. Focus on human connection over hard-selling to win them over.

Leverage Trends

TikTok thrives on trends – hot sounds, viral challenges, and editing techniques. Stay ahead of the curve by exploring the "For You" page, using the "Discover" tab, and following trend-spotting accounts.

But integrate trends wisely! Choose those that align with your brand's personality and adapt them to make them your own. Timing is crucial – act quickly when a trend is still fresh.  

Remember that trends are a tool, not the whole toolbox. Ensure your ads have a clear message and connect to your brand identity.

Use Strong Visuals and Audio

Your TikTok ad specs should use vibrant colors, bold text, or intriguing action to make users stop scrolling. Embrace transitions, animations, or demonstrations to keep the user's eyes glued to your ad. Choose visuals over text whenever possible.

Remember to be creative in audio as well. Users often scroll with sound on, so a catchy song or sound effect from TikTok's library or trending audio can make your video ad pop. Ensure voiceovers are clear and free from distracting background noise.

Your visuals and music should align with your brand's personality. For example, playful and energetic brands demand bright colors and fun visuals, while a sleek and modern aesthetic calls for a more polished approach.

Include a Clear Call to Action (CTA)

A strong CTA is essential on TikTok, guiding users from enjoying your ad to taking your desired action. Be crystal clear with direct language like "Learn More," "Shop Now," or "Download App."  

Maximize CTA visibility through text overlays (large font, contrasting color), voiceovers, end screens, captions, or built-in ad format buttons.  

Create urgency with phrases like "Limited Time Offer," and keep your CTA short and sweet. Most importantly, ensure your CTA aligns with your campaign's goals. 

Use Influencers Wisely

Partnering with the right TikTok influencers can boost your brand's reach and authenticity

Choose influencers whose audience aligns with your target market (age, location, interests) and whose values and content style match your brand image. Seek out influencers with genuine, engaged followings built on trust. Provide influencers with guidelines while allowing room for their authentic voice. Track results beyond simple reach; measure engagement, website visits, and conversions. However, remember that you should follow FTC disclosure guidelines for sponsored content.

More importantly, don't overlook micro-influencers with smaller but dedicated niche audiences within the TikTok community. There could also be potential from your employees as brand advocates. 

Kurve Your Way to TikTok Success

The key to making TikTok ads work is authenticity, creativity, and staying ahead of the curve. 

If you need help from experts to strategize or execute compelling TikTok ad campaigns, let us know how Kurve can help you.

You can visit our blog for more valuable insights into the ever-changing world of digital marketing.