Blog TikTok ad formats: Everything you need t...

TikTok ad formats: Everything you need to succeed on the platform


TikTok has become the third-largest social network in just a few short years across 150 countries and covering 39 languages. The platform is predicted to reach 755 million monthly users this year. Combine this rapid growth with its much-coveted Gen Z demographic, and it's no wonder that digital marketers' interest in TikTok advertising is at an all time high. This article provides everything you need to know to get started with TikTok ads, including examples of TikTok ads, how much they cost, ad formats on the platform, and more.

Part 1

TikTok ad formats, length, and other things your need to know

TikTok stands out in the social media realm with its unique short-form video format. There are many types of TikTok ads, and each has its own best practices. Let’s explore the different ad formats available, the pros and cons of each TikTok ad type, and TikTok ad examples.

1. In-feed ads

TikTok’s standard ad format is likely the most familiar to advertisers. In-feed ads are embedded within a user’s For You feed. The video ads autoplay and allows users to like, comment, share, and follow.

Optimal length: 15 seconds
Aspect Ratio: 9:16, 1:1, or 16:9

Pros: Cons:
Works for various campaign objectives Must compete with other videos for viewer attention
Feels like native content
Has clickable features
CTA buttons can take users to any page, including external landing pages

In-feed ad example

LowerMyBills, a mortgage company, turned to in-feed ads and a TikTok Instant Page to help reach more users looking to refinance their mortgages. With content that felt native to the platform, TikTok says the campaign led to a 20% decrease in CPA compared to the brand's platform ads that didn't incorporate TikTok Instant Page.

2. TopView ads

Upon opening the app, these ads appear at the top of users’ For You feed and enable viewers to like, share, comment, and engage with the video ad.

Optimal length: 60 seconds
Aspect Ratio: 9:16, 1:1, or 16:9

Pros: Cons:
The longer format grants more time to convey messaging More identifiable by TikTok users as an ad
The immersive experience eliminates competing content
Guarantees a high number of impressions
Works well for brand awareness

TopView ad example

Superplay, a gaming startup, wanted to boost awareness for its star game Dice Dreams within the Thai market with a Branded Hashtag Campaign. Taking place over three days in October 2021, Superplay used three TopView reservation ads. TikTok reported that the campaign had “more than 270 million page views, 134 million engagements, 130,000 video creations, and delivered 132% on the promised impressions.”

3. Brand Takeover ads

Like TopView ads, Brand Takeover ads are full-screen ads that can either be static or dynamic visuals shown to users upon opening the app. Users only see one Brand Takeover ad per day.

Optimal length: 3-5 second long video or a 3-second image
Aspect Ratio: 9:16, 1:1, or 16:9

Pros: Cons:
Deliver a high number of impressions Users are unable to like or comment
Users cannot skip them More identifiable as an ad
Works well for brand awareness

Brand Takeover ad example

Branded Hashtag Challenge. Some of these ads even used participating creators’ videos as ad creative. TikTok noted that “The community submitted more than 167,000 videos for the challenge, driving 179 million video views.”

4. Branded Hashtag Challenge

Less of an ad, and more of a campaign, the Branded Hashtag Challenge capitalizes on the potential for user-generated content (UGC) on TikTok. Ultimately, the challenge is placed in three locations within the app — in the feed, in featured banners on the Discover Page, and on a Hashtag Challenge landing page that aggregates all the UGC videos.

Optimal length: Not applicable

Pros: Cons:
Popular with users, which results in higher engagement Relies heavily on UGC, and, therefore, user interest for success
Feels like organic content
Has the potential for virality
Works well for brand awareness

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Branded Hashtag Challenge example

When Menulog, an Australian food delivery app owned by Just Eat Takeaway, desired to target younger users, it turned to a Branded Hashtag Challenge — #DeliveryDance — to drive awareness. TikTok reports that #DeliveryDance, “was a runaway success, with the TopView placement and official creators contributing to an 89% lift in ad recall and over 28.9 million impressions on campaign content. Menulog also saw a brand association lift of 35.9% over the campaign period. Official creators delivered a total of two million video views, with a 19% average engagement rate.”

5. Branded Effects

Create stickers, filters, and other effects for users to add to their content. Branded Effects can be a standalone campaign or used with a hashtag challenge. ​​

Pros: Cons:
Popular with users, which leads to higher engagement May require influencer involvement to gain traction
Works well for brand awareness
Younger demographics like them
Can strengthen a hashtag challenge

Branded Effects example

To promote its new series, “Tribes of Europa,” Netflix used a Branded Hashtag Challenge called the #TribesChallenge, which called on users to show their allegiance to the series’ four tribes using the different branded effects Netflix had created. Netflix partnered with 10 popular German TikTok creators to jumpstart the campaign. These creators demonstrated how to use the different outfits and tribe-inspired backgrounds. This was a stunning success, with the campaign’s video being viewed over 1.5 billion times.

Part 2

Making an effective TikTok ad

Many of the best practices for creating TikTok ads are similar to creating a successful campaign on any platform. Advertisers must create compelling content that conforms to user expectations. On TikTok, users expect authentic content that feels native to their TikTok experience. To achieve this, make sure your ad includes the following:

  • Use sound and captions — TikTok says 93% of top-performing videos use audio, and 73% of TikTok users said they would stop and look at ads with audio.
  • High-res, full-screen videos work best — According to TikTok, quality and size matter. Avoid low-quality, blurry videos and take advantage of the immersive experience by going full-screen with your ads.
  • Keep it vertical — Nothing shows you’re new to TikTok faster than a landscape video built for a vertical environment.

Find your audience: Targeting ads on TikTok

And, of course, you need to make sure you’re targeting the right audience for your content to be well-received. Users expect personalized ads, and just like most social networks, TikTok allows you to build your custom audience, create a lookalike audience, or target users based on the following criteria:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location
  • Language
  • Interests
  • Behaviors
  • Device details

TikTok lets users adjust their ad settings, allowing them to turn personalized ads on or off or even alter their ad preferences for more relevant content. Keep this in mind when planning your campaign.

Part 3

The price of TikTok ads

With so many types of ads and campaigns available, and differing degrees of competition depending on the audiences you’re targeting, there isn’t a simple answer to “How much do TikTok ads cost?” However, because TikTok ads are based on a bidding model, advertisers can control costs through daily and lifetime budgets for campaigns and ad groups. The minimum budget prices listed below reflect the pricing on TikTok at the time of publishing.

Campaign level minimum budgets:

  • Daily budget: $50
  • Lifetime budget: $50

Ad group level minimum budgets:

  • Daily budget: $20
  • Lifetime budget: Multiply the daily budget by the number of days scheduled

Part 4

Tips to improve your TikTok ads’ effectiveness

With consumer spending in TikTok reaching $824.4 million in Q4 2021 — more than double the $382.4 million generated during the same period in 2020 — it’s clear that TikTok users are ready to spend. So, if you’re ready to target TikTok users with your ads, it’s time to develop a strategy. We’ve three tips for you to consider before you get started.

Tip 1: In-feed ads for installs

While the mobile user demographic profile is shifting, especially in the wake of the pandemic, apps targeting a young global audience are an excellent fit for TikTok. And if installs are your goal, the In-feed ad will be the most effective TikTok ad format to employ. It allows you to include a CTA linked to a landing page, meaning you can drive traffic to the app stores.

Tip 2: Partner with influencers

Influencers are crucial on TikTok, where users' feeds are highly curated based on algorithms and authentic content. In fact, micro-influencers boast an average engagement rate of 18%, and the engagement rates on TikTok for influencers of any size are higher than that on YouTube or Instagram.

With this in mind, app marketers should work with influencers who cater to their brand’s vertical. For instance, a crypto or fintech app may want to join forces with TikTokkers to create content around financial literacy, investing, or cryptocurrency. For best practices relating to fashion, lifestyle, and gaming verticals, check out our article Social media influencer marketing practices.

Tip 3: Partner with a mobile measurement partner

To fully understand the user journey and success of your TikTok campaigns, it’s vital to work with a mobile measurement partner like Adjust. Last year Adjust joined the TikTok for Business’ Marketing Partner Program to provide our clients with easy integration and campaign optimization for TikTok. As a result, you’ll be able to monitor and optimize all your campaigns across all channels and networks —TikTok included — in one place. To see how Adjust can help your app grow, schedule a demo today.

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