Complete Guide To TikTok Ads In 2020 Cover Image

Complete Guide To TikTok Ads In 2020

August 26, 2020


Do you ever wish you could go back to the early days of Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube and dominate your industry before your competitors jumped on board?

You can seize a similar opportunity with TikTok right now.

After its record-breaking popularity in early 2020, TikTok just launched its sophisticated, simple, and beeea-uuuu-tiful self-serve ad platform.

For most U.S. businesses, this is the first opportunity to advertise on TikTok.

Find out how to access TikTok’s ad platform and how to place ads as we walk you through it, step-by-step, in this article.

We show you where to sign up, how to place ads, where to find the (oh so beautifully organized) help pages, and how to use and access its stunning analytics program.

Like TikTok, this guide is straightforward and to-the-point, so you can start placing ads in no time!

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The Impressive Rise Of Tiktok

TikTok’s rapid growth continues, year after year, with an impressive number of downloads, ratings, and activity.

The first quarter of 2020 saw TikTok claim its place as the most-downloaded app ever in a quarter.

TT Global downloads 2020 Mediakix

Source: Sensor Tower Q1 2020 Data Digest

By August 2020, the TikTok app earned more than five million 5-star ratings in the App Store.

TikTok app ratings

Source: App Annie

TikTok statistics:

With 800 million monthly users, TikTok already outnumbers long-standing social media platforms Twitter, Reddit, and Pinterest.

TikTok statistics

Popularity of Today’s Social Media Platforms

To put things in perspective, let’s take a look at the popularity of a few other successful social media platforms.

Active users as of July 16 2020, data by Statista

  1. TikTok: 800 million active users
  2. Reddit: 430 million active users
  3. Snapchat: 397 million active users
  4. Pinterest: 367 million active users
  5. Twitter: 326 million active monthly users

Popularity of Today’s Social Media Platforms

TikTok dramatically outnumbers Reddit, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Twitter. If the platform continues growing at this rate, it will surpass Instagram and Facebook Messenger within the year.


Who Uses TikTok

There’s something you may not realize about TikTok’s user base, because most reports state that it’s for younger users.

Most reports are referring to global users, though.

In the U.S., TikTok’s not just for kids.

Inside the U.S., TikTok users range from 18 – 64 years old, and all generations are nearly equal in their passion for the social media platform.

Who uses TikTok?

Several studies, including the 2019 Marketing Charts report, show that Americans of all ages embrace TikTok.

  • 18 – 24 years olds account for 25.8 % of TikTok users in the U.S.
  • 25 – 24 years olds account for 24.5% of TikTok users in the U.S.
  • 35 – 44 years olds account for 20.3% of TikTok users in the U.S.
  • 45 – 64 years olds account for 26% of TikTok users in the U.S.

The social media platform appeals to a range of income earners, with the highest percent of TikTokkers (37%) earning more than $100,000 per year – that’s good news for marketers wanting to target an audience with expendable income.


Source: Marketing Charts

TikTok Boosted By The Pandemic

With most of the world on some type of lockdown during the first quarter of 2020, people began looking for online entertainment other than Netflix. Many discovered a lifeline on TikTok, where dance challenges, singing, and happiness are generously dished out in 15-second portions.

To understand TikTok culture and why it became so widely embraced in early 2020, you’ll need to understand how it differs from Instagram. 

Instagrammers post content that “wows” viewers with beauty and dazzle. TikTok is where people go when they want to feel a real connection, sans makeup and posing.

Human connections are usually built when people stop trying to be perfect and just let their guards down. 

These connections happen all the time on TikTok, where regular people take on dance challenges, pull mischievous pranks, and brave the camera to sing online, often for the first time in front of an audience.

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Professionals like TikTok because it gives them a platform to experiment without fear of making mistakes or coming off as imperfect.

For example, professional choreographer Emma Lutz-Higgans enjoys TikTok because of its straightforward, non-veiled approach

About TikTok, Lutz-Higgans says, “This is about me performing for you, and I don’t have to pretend that I’m not. It’s all just out in the open. It’s kind of weirdly liberating.”

tiktok dancers

Source: New York Times

American Ballet Theater corps dancer Erica Lall posts some classical dance moves on TikTok, but mostly has fun trying new things and participating in viral dance challenges.

erica lall on TikTok

Source: @erica_lall on Tiktok

Understanding why people flock to TikTok is essential to marketers and advertisers wanting to promote their brands. 

Finding a way to connect with an audience on TikTok means marketers need to drop pretentious messaging and discover new ways to connect through laughter, music, or some other type of joy — within the 15-second video format.

Why TikTok Matters To Advertisers

TikTok’s brand new self-serve ad platform, TikTok For Business, opens up advertising options for the first time in the U.S. 

If you’re familiar with Facebook and Instagram advertising, you’ll love TikTok For Business. 

Much like Facebook’s ad platform, it allows you to place ads that target niche audiences, while tracking ad performance with its complex (yet super-easy) analytics platform.

How to Place Ads On TikTok: A Step-By-Step Guide

Since TikTok launched its self-serve ad format in 2020, businesses can place ads by logging into TikTok For Business.

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To get started, visit TikTok For Business and open a free account. Once you’re signed up, you can begin placing ads.

Before you can access the screens that allow you to place ads, you’ll choose from one of the following marketing objectives:

  • Reach: Make your ad visible to as many people as possible
  • Traffic: Send traffic to your website, ad, or landing page. You can also create a custom audience for targeted traffic, for example if you want to reach people who previously installed your app.
  • App Installs: Persuade viewers to download your app
  • Video Views: Send viewers to your video content
  • Conversions: Drive specific actions such as newsletter signup, special offers, or purchases

Some of the following screens may contain variations on ad placement procedures, depending on the marketing objectives you choose.

TikTok Ad Marketing Objectives

Here’s how to place your ads on TikTok.

Step 1: Ad Details

To place an ad on TikTok, you’ll begin by filling out some basic ad details such as the URL you want to promote, your display name, profile image, and whether you’ll allow user comments on your ad.

01 ad details

Step 2: Creative Type

Decide whether you’ll take advantage of TikTok’s Automatic Creative Optimization, which generates a variety of ad combinations from your creative assets such as images, videos, and ad texts. 

Automatic Creative Optimization tests different ads to come up with the highest-performing combinations for your audience.

If you’d like to try it, move the slider to the “on” position, but keep in mind that once you create your ad group, you can’t change this setting.

02 Creative type

Step 3: Audience Targeting

Audience targeting options allow you to pinpoint a niche audience for your ads. 

Optionally, you can choose from a previous audience or create a new one

targeting options for tiktok ads

The “Audience Size” tool in the right hand column adjusts in real time, showing whether your choices create a narrow, balanced, or broad audience.

Next, you’ll choose the ad-targeting options that will help you push your ads to the right people.

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Your ad targeting options include several choices, as follows.


Choose the traits that make up the people in your target audience.

  • Location: Choose  one or more countries to target.
  • Gender: Choose male, female, or no limit.
  • Age group: Choose any, all, or none (no limit) of the six age groups:
    • 13 – 17
    • 18 – 24
    • 25 – 34
    • 35 – 44
    • 45 – 54
    • 55+

age groups


Select from any of these (optional) device choices:

  • Connection type: Any combination of: WiFi, 2G, 3G, 4G, or “no limit”
  • Operating system (Android, IOS, or “no limit”)
  • Carriers: Choose any combination or none – AT & T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon
  • Device price: choose no limit or enter a range between $0 – $1000+

Step 4: Budget And Schedule

In this section, you’ll select your daily advertising budget (minimum $20) and choose when  you’d like your ads to run.

04 budget and scheduel

Step 5: Bidding

Next, you’ll set a frequency cap, bid strategy, and delivery type for your ad group.

05 bidding and opt

05 bidding and opt b

Step 6: Create Ad

In this part of the process, you choose how to create your ad. You can create an ad from a single video or multiple images.

06 create ad

Finally, you’ll add your image or video assets.

06 create ad n

When you’re finished creating your ad, you’ll move on to the billing and payment sections to complete the ad-placement process.

7 Steps to Placing Your TikTok Ad

Placing ads on TikTok is simple, yet the platform grants you a significant amount of control over who you reach and when your ads display. 

You can feel free to experiment with the platform, since billing and payment are the last steps of the process.

Get tips, tricks, and examples for building your community on TikTok

Ultimate Guide to TikTok Analytics

How Much Do TikTok Ads Cost?

When advertising on TikTok, you choose from one of two budgeting options: daily or lifetime. 

You can change your budget at any time, even during your campaign, and the system won’t spend more than the budget you set.

The minimum budget for TikTok advertising is:

  • $50 minimum for ads at the group level
  • $500 minimum for ads at the campaign level

You will bid on how much you’re willing to pay for user actions.

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TikTok Ad Requirements And Spec Recommendations

TikTok requires that ads are legible and high-resolution. If your video has no audio or incoherent audio background, or if you use the TikTok/ByteDance logo or description (“TikTok Bestseller”) without permission, your ads may get rejected.

Recommended specs for TikTok ad videos:

  • Video ad specs:
  • Aspect Ratio
  • Horizontal(16:9)/Square(1:1)/Vertical(9:16)
  • Resolution
  • Horizontal(1280*720)/Square(640*640)/Vertical(720*1280)
  • Bitrate
  • ≥ 516kbps
  • Duration
  • 5-60s
  • Safe Zone
  • From left: 44px
  • From right: 140px
  • From top: 130px
  • From bottom: 483-484px

Image ads, creative optimization ads, and other types of video ads have various spec requirements and recommendations. 

You can visit TikTok Business Center help pages for complete information on the ad specs for your ad types.

TikTok Ad Requirements And Spec Recommendations

How To Supercharge Your TikTok Advertising

One of the best things about Tiktok’s new self-serve ad platform is it’s insights program, which includes analytics dashboards that you can personalize.

Do you want to boost the results of your advertising and become a serious competitor on TikTok?

Analytics are the key.

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Following your ad performance and adjusting your strategy around what your target audience responds to will help you boost the results of your ads over time.

To find out all about how to use TikTok advertising analytics, check out our free Ultimate Guide to TikTok Analytics for Brands 2020.

TikTok Advertising — Worth The Wait!

Although it took several years to gain access to TikTok self-serve ads, the wait was worth it. Its ad platform provides complex targeting options in an easy-to-use format, with help pages that are so much easier to navigate than other, similar platforms such as Facebook.

TikTok’s rapid growth means you won’t have much more time if you want to get in on the “ground floor,” before competition floods the platform. 

Fortunately, you still have a chance to get seen on TikTok without major ad spend. It’s so simple to place your ads with the new platform, so jump on over to TikTok For Business and give it a try today!

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