TikTok Advertising for Beginners

October 2021
 minute read
phone in times square with tiktok app loading

When you’re trying to market your online business, you’re always looking for the best way to get your product or service in front of your audience in a format that holds their attention. That means you’ve probably considered TikTok, with its growing army of engaged and excited users, as a promising outlet for your advertising dollars. 

As leaders in a number of ecommerce marketing services, we know how to get started with advertising on TikTok. In this post, we’ll cover what sponsored opportunities are available on the platform, the logistics of setting up campaigns, and some best practices for creating TikTok specific content. Let’s dive in.  

What Opportunities Does TikTok Offer For Ecommerce Marketing Services?

Choose Which TikTok Ad Format Best Fits Your Business Objectives 

 four phone screens showing different TikTok ad types: Brand takeover, in-feed native video, hashtag challenge, and lens 2D, 3D, AR
TikTok offers different options for your ad formats. Image source: BusinessofApps

TikTok is a unique social media platform for businesses, and the types of ads you can choose to run on it reflect that fact. TikTok offers a broad range of ad types to fit the needs of different businesses. 

The platform just introduced self-service advertising, which is the most cost-effective and friendly option for small businesses.

  • In Feed Video: TikTok offers every user their own customized For You Page (FYP) which is a scrollable feed of videos the TikTok algorithm predicts will interest them. In Feed Video Ads will automatically appear on the FYPs of your target audience. 

TikTok also offers pricier, non self-service options that are perfect for larger businesses with bigger budgets and global shipping capabilities.  

  • Brand Takeover: This powerful option allows your 3-5 second ad to be the first thing a user sees when they open the app. Once they do, they can be redirected either to an external site or to a TikTok profile of your choosing. This is the most exclusive ad type, as only one advertiser can use this option per day. 
  • Top View ads: These full screen ads are similar to Brand Takeover ads, but they can be up to 60 seconds long and they don’t start immediately when the app opens. 
  • Branded hashtag challenge: TikTok is a place where users have the tendency to create and engage heavily with clusters of content around trending and niche topics. Businesses who choose the Branded Hashtag ad option leverage this fact by creating a hashtag and inviting users to create content using it. The challenge is at the top of a user’s Discover page and live for six days.
  • Branded Effects: This option also takes advantage of the tendency of TikTok’s tendency to incorporate the same elements and themes into new content. Branded effects are custom stickers and lenses businesses can make for other users to add to their content. These are available for 10 days. 

And stay tuned! According to Business Insider, TikTok is planning on making advertising even friendlier to your ecommerce marketers. Soon, they’ll be rolling out “Collection Ads” which allow users to add product catalog listings with branded videos; “Dynamic Product Ads,” which retarget users based on online behavior, and “Promo Tiles” which let businesses include sales and promotional alerts within their feeds.  

How To Get Set Up with TikTok Advertising 

TikTok Ads Manager Lets You Develop Campaigns, Target Users, and More 

Blue "create" button under the word "campaign" in TikTok Ads Manager interface
TikTok arranges your ad campaigns according to a hierarchy. Image source: AdEspresso 

There are plenty of exciting opportunities to get your products in front of TikTok’s dedicated audience. But before you can start creating and watching that traffic roll in, there are some things you have to do first. 

To get started with ads, you can either speak to a TikTok ad manager, or use self-service for In Feed Video ads. If you’re using self service, the first thing you need to do before you can run ads is create an account with TikTok for Business. Then, you’ll have access to the Ads Manager which lets you create ads according to a hierarchy


Before you can even think about rolling that camera, you’ve got to consider your campaign objective and budget. 

TikTok allows you to choose from an array of campaign objectives, depending on where your audience is in the marketing funnel. You can choose different objectives targeting users in the Awareness, Consideration, or Conversion sections. 

Once you’ve chosen the objective, you can choose a maximum amount of money to spend–either each day or over the course of the entire campaign. 

Ad Group 

After finishing the Campaign level you move onto creating the Ad Group, which allows you to choose your ad placement, target audience, budget + schedule, and optimization goals. ​

When choosing placements, you’ll be given the option of letting TikTok automatically place your ads or manually selecting placements. When you’re just starting out though, it’s usually best to stick with automatic placements. 

You can target your audience based on demographic information and their interests. It’s also possible to create a custom audience from things like app activity, files on customers, past engagement with ads, or web traffic. If you want to target based on web traffic, you’ll need to install the TikTok pixel on your website, which will help track customer behavior on your page. 

At the Ad Group level, you’ll also have to decide what goal you’re optimizing for, whether that be clicks, app installs, etc. Then you’ll set your bidding method which defines the amount you’re willing to pay for that objective. 


This is the fun part: ads are what users are actually going to see. This is where you can upload your creative–either in the form of a static image that TikTok will turn into a video or your own video. From there, you can add your ad text and the call to action. 

After that, it’s just a matter of clicking “Submit” and sending your campaign off for review.

How To Create Ads for TikTok 

Learn the Best Practices for Creating TikTok-Specific Content 

crowd of people at a concert
People are coming on TikTok to be entertained, not sold to

Once you get set up, it’s time to start creating the ads your audience will want to see. But keep in mind: a TikTok ad isn’t going to be like an ad for any other platform. TikTok users have very different expectations for the type of content they want to see when they open up the app. Here are some tips for creating TikTok level content your audience won’t want to scroll past: 

  1. Be authentic: TikTok isn’t the place for highly produced ads that...look like ads. People are coming to the app to see real-life people. Play with an informal tone with your TikTok ads. 
  2. Entertain, don’t sell: The majority of people coming to TikTok are coming so that they can be entertained by funny/engaging content. They won’t take kindly to a hard product sell that seems out of place on the platform. That means your primary objective when creating content is to entertain the audience. Figure out how you can fit your product into an entertaining concept, not the other way around. 
  3. Keep it short: TikTok is the home of short form video. Users are used to scrolling quickly past 15-60 second videos (even if TikTok is experimenting with longer video lengths now). Aim to keep your video lengths short, and focused on one product or topic, rather than on all the services you offer. 
  4. Use Influencers: Partnering with influencers in your niche who already know how to succeed on the platform is another great option. And the money-making opportunities here are phenomenal. For every $1 spent on influencer marketing, brands can see a $6.50 ROI. You can find relevant influencers either by entering a topic into TikTok’s user page, or using their Creator Marketplace.
  5. Use TikTok trends: using native TikTok sounds, trending hashtags, or topics is the best way to find success on the platform. Try using TikTok’s Smart Video Soundtrack, which will automatically pair relevant music with your content. 
  6. Understand the genre: In the end, you’re not going to be able to create TikTok-worthy content unless you’re familiar with how storytelling on this platform works. And the best way to do that is to get a TikTok account and use it. Then, telling a story in a fast-paced, fun, and informal way will become second nature. 

When it comes to advertising on TikTok, the landscape is only getting more exciting as time goes on. If you're expanding your ecommerce marketing efforts to platforms like TikTok, it's worth considering incorporating merchandise meant for your followers. T-shirts, hats, mugs, and other custom products can be great options to engage with your audience and promote your brand. By leveraging print-on-demand services, you can easily create and offer these products without the hassle of inventory management. Platforms like Printful and Printify provide seamless integration and high-quality printing services for a wide range of merchandise. As more people use the platform every day, it’s becoming clear to advertisers that this is where to find the audience for their ecommerce marketing services. And as advertisers create for a TikTok audience, TikTok creates opportunities for them, with self-service capabilities and a growing array of ad formats. And if you want some help getting your foot in the door of this exciting space, reach out to us and we’ll help get you started.

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