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Get to Know All the Different Types of TikTok Ads

Shae Henrie

Content Strategist @ AdRoll

Launched in 2016 by ByteDance, TikTok is available in more than 150 different markets, with a reported one billion daily users by early 2022. TikTok enables large and small businesses, agencies, and creators to expand and reach new audiences and achieve big results. TikTok is the dream platform for advertisers. 

Why Advertise on TikTok?

TikTok’s unique video format, diverse audience, and curated algorithm make it a strong advertising tool.  According to Sprout Social, the average TikTok user spends 95 minutes daily watching TikTok videos. It makes sense why more than half (55%) of users have completed a purchase after seeing a brand on TikTok. See what types of ads on TikTok would give you the best return on your investment.

6 Different TikTok Ad Formats 

To develop a successful TikTok ad strategy, choosing the best type of ad will be a key component of your campaign. Below are six different types of TikTok ads to consider.

1. In-Feed Ads 

In-feed ads appear the most organically as just another video a user can scroll through on their For You Page (FYP). This TikTok ad format usually receives the most in-app engagement since users can like and comment on it. Although these ads can be 5-60 seconds long, TikTok recommends 21-34 seconds. It also includes a button with a call to action (CTA) that can lead to an external landing page. 

These ads are perfect for brands just wanting to get more recognition. An optimal strategy would be working with influencers to mention the brand’s name or product and then seeing their ad later in their feed. With this strategy, users are more likely to experience brand recall.

example of in-feed ad on TikTok

2. TopView Ads

This ad is similar to an in-feed ad, with the main difference being it’s the first in-feed video users see. It may not be the first video they see when opening the app, but brands have guaranteed three seconds of attention. Brands have to be really creative in order to make an impact in such little time; luckily, half the hard work is already done since they don’t have to worry about initially capturing interest, unlike in-feed ads, where users can just scroll through. TopView and in-feed ads are the most common ads on TikTok and are the easiest to create. If you’re new to advertising, we recommend starting with these along with other social media advertising — just to note — the cost of TikTok ads varies and they require a minimum budget.

example of top view ad on tiktok

3. Brand Takeover Ads

Have you ever opened your app to be immediately greeted with a full-screen ad? It could’ve been Too Faced Lip Injection Extreme or something else, but these ads are put front and center. As soon as users open the app, the ad automatically plays for five seconds, and you can get really creative with what you present. It can be a series of videos, GIFs, screenshots, etc. To be successful, however, this will require a lot of planning and creativity. Having more than one different yet cohesive video is suggested to avoid repetitiveness while maintaining brand recognition. This will keep users engaged with the content, making them more likely to remember the brand behind it. 

This ad format is perfect for a new launch of a product versus brand awareness. Take Too Faced, for example. Their campaign had 7.6 million impressions in just one day, and 2.54 million of those impressions were unique. The campaign also earned an impressive 18.38% click-through rate. These ads can be really successful, particularly for B2C companies. The power of TikTok!

example of a brand takeover ad on tiktok

4. Branded Effects

It’s not a social media platform without the use of filters! Branded effects allow brands to create their own shareable stickers, AR filters, and lenses. This is ideal if you want user-generated content (UGC) or to spread awareness for a campaign, especially one with a good cause or mission. It was only recently that TikTok launched its Effect House, specifically made to produce custom-branded effects. 

It would be easier to have a branded effect with a different ad combined with it. A great way to popularize a branded effect is by having a celebrity use it with a branded hashtag in the caption of a TopView ad. Users have several ways to engage with it by using the filter, hashtag or simply capturing their interest for at least a few seconds. This, of course, would require a big budget to implement all these ads on top of creating the filter, stickers, hashtags, and video (even more if a celebrity or influencer is involved).  

example of a branded effects ad on tiktok

5. Branded Hashtag Challenge

Since the removal of TikTok’s Discover page, this type of ad works best when a challenge is presented to users alongside other ads. A popular example is #PlayWithPringles, where Pringles simply asked users to get creative with a Pringles can and film it. Again, this type of ad works best when combined with other ads. Pringles also launched TopView and One Day Max In-Feed ads which led to its success with over one billion hashtag video views and more than 343K user-generated videos created. 

One drawback of this type of TikTok ad is that many creators ride the wave when the hashtag starts taking off meaning they will include the hashtag in their videos that don’t even mention the brand or anything relevant to the hashtag. Still, they use it because they want more eyes on their videos, and the algorithm will prioritize the branded hashtag. Like branded effects, there will be plenty of UGC, meaning you can ask TikTokers for permission to repost their videos. Plenty of content to play with and reshare!

example of branded hashtag challenge on tiktok

6. Spark Ads

Spark ads are essentially in-feed ads, but this type of TikTok ad also allows brands to turn their own TikTok videos or a creator’s video (with their permission) into ads. Spark ads enable users to visit the brand’s TikTok account and use their audio for their own video or visit a music page. This ad is strongly recommended for any advertiser, no matter their marketing goals, since it’s relatively easy to launch and very effective. Spark Ads' new profile landing page UI delivers a 69% higher conversion rate and 37% lower cost per action (CPA) than ever before.

example of spark ad on

Additional Opportunities on TikTok

TikTok has proven to be a powerful advertising tool that is constantly improving and offers so many different formats and capabilities. Don’t forget that creators are the heart of TikTok, so brands should consider testing out creator-based ads and/or influencer collaborations.

As always, AdRoll is here to help brands reach their full marketing potential, we even created a guide to TikTok advertising to help you get started. If you’re ready to take the next step, our platform can connect to TikTok and enable a holistic view of all your marketing efforts within one intuitive interface.

TikTok Ads FAQs

What type of ad works best on TikTok?

Since TikTok is a space made for content creators, it’s best to create an ad that doesn’t feel like one. That’s why it’s important to consider partnering with content creators so people see a familiar face who is also relatable. Since a large portion of TikTok users is Gen Z, ads that incorporate humor and are uplifting will make more of an impact and capture attention. 

We recommend looking at case studies of successful ad campaigns from similar brands to yours to determine the best approach. Don’t forget that one of the most important things to do is to optimize your TikTok ads.

What are TikTok's ad targeting options?

TikTok has recently expanded its targeting capabilities to include the operating system, gender, age, and much more. TikTok Ads Manager makes it easy to find the right audience, especially with its Targeting Recommendation feature, which will provide you with a collection of recommended Interest & Behavior categories from the audience most likely to contribute to your campaign's advertising objective. 

TikTok also offers automatic targeting to optimize who receives your ads dynamically, potentially lowering CPA while increasing conversions. However, TikTok notes that automatic targeting is only for traffic, app, lead gen, community interaction, and conversion web objectives.

What is the difference between spark ads and in-feed ads on TikTok?

Spark ads have all the same capabilities as in-feed ads but offer more features. With spark ads, users can also click on the music disc that can lead to a music page (ideal for album releases) and it makes it easier for a user to navigate to the brand page and follow them directly from the ad. As we mentioned before, with spark ads, brands can create their own ad or use a creator’s video with their permission. For reference, TikTok reported that spark ads have a 134% higher completion rate and 157% higher 6-second view-through rate than standard in-feed ads.

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