Thinking About Advertising on TikTok? Read This First!

Sep 04, 2020

In this day and age, e-commerce businesses need to be crafty and smart in choosing which platforms to advertise on. Social media ads on Facebook and even Snapchat are showing huge conversion rates and ROAS (return on ad spend).

I’ve gotten some questions lately about advertising on TikTok. It’s no secret that TikTok has blown up with consumers, but is it any good for advertisers?

I want to share some key things I’ve learned that will help you decide whether or not you should plunge into TikTok advertising.

Then, I’ll share some of my best tips for TikTok ad creative!

The Top 5 Key Takeaways From My TikTok Advertising Experience

I’ve gotten my hands dirty when it comes to TikTok advertising! Here are some things I’ve learned…

1. Attribution is Difficult

Especially for e-commerce brands. TikTok uses same session conversion to track attribution. That means a user has to see an ad, swipe up and purchase right then and there in order for TikTok to track is as a conversion.

That means if a buyer first sees your product on TikTok, but buys it later in the day from Googling it, you won’t know that they discovered your product on TikTok.

How are you supposed to know that your ads are working if the conversions aren’t attributed to TikTok? Well, there’s a workaround… add a post-purchase survey that asks purchasers how they initially heard about your product. If you have a Shopify site, I personally recommend using the app Enquire to set up a post-purchase survey.

2. The Targeting Has Room For Improvement

The interest groups on TikTok are currently very broad. Interest groups like “food” and “fashion” are pretty vague so if you have a niche or specialized target audience, targeting isn’t your best bet.

For my clients, I’ve found the most success by not using targeting at all! I just rely on broad audiences (e.g., ages 13-25 in the US). By the way, the ideal target market for TikTok advertising is between ages 13-20.

A couple of other pitfalls to consider is that there’s no lookalike targeting or re-targeting. Plus, the auto-placement setting puts your ads on some apps that are only available outside of the US, so make sure to turn it off if you do run TikTok ads.


3. Cheaper Products Work Better

Cheaper products definitely result in the most conversions on TikTok. There must be a handful of impulse buyers on TikTok, because products with a higher price than $30 don’t seem to do too well!

4. You Have to Pre Pay for Ads

This means that you have to add money to your account and use it to buy ads, instead of paying for the cost of the ads afterwards. Keep in mind that TikTok does offer the option to apply for a line of credit to use on ad spend, then you can pay it off at the end of the month.

5. Pixel Setup Isn’t Streamlined

If you’re using Shopify, the pixel is pretty easy to set up for the purchase conversion event and view product conversion event.

Other than that, the TikTok pixel felt unnecessarily difficult to set up. Their customer support team was super helpful, but I wish they’d streamline the setup process so users wouldn’t need to reach out to support.

TikTok Ad Creative Best Practices

Now that I’ve gone through some of the key takeaways I’ve gathered from using TikTok ads, I want to share some best practices for successful ad creation.

1. Consider Influencer Content

This one is a given. Sending your product to a TikTok influencer and having them make a TikTok with it is a great way to create a native ad that doesn’t feel super salesy.

Ad from my client Our Place

2. Don’t Solely Rely on Influencer Content

While having an influencer show off your product can be powerful, you don’t have to go that route or put your whole budget into it. I’ve seen a lot of success with brands posting their Instagram and Snapchat stories as ads on TikTok.

Remember that ads aren’t one size fits all, and it’s best to try different approaches.

Ad from my client Our Place

3. Stay in the Safe Zone

TikTok ads have a lot of elements like the description, the shop now button, various icons, etc. Those elements may be important, but they’ll cover up your ad copy if you’re not careful about where you place it. Stay within the “safe zone” of the ad to make sure your content gets seen as it’s intended to be.

4. Keep Your Ads Squeaky Clean (or Just Resubmit Them…)

TikTok is pretty strict when it comes to ad approval. A lot more strict than Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram. Even showing a little bit of skin can prevent your ad from being approved. When we say “a little bit of skin,” think of a guy wearing a v-neck shirt. I had an instance where an ad was blocked for that. Why? I don’t know, but I do know a workaround.

If your ad gets disapproved, simply change something minor like the headline or the thumbnail and resubmit it for approval. I’ve found that to be successful.


5. Make it Exclusive

In the headline of your ads, it’s good to say something like “TikTok Sale” or “TikTok Exclusive Offer” and offer a discount. This has proven a useful way to get users to buy right then and there, which counts as a same session conversion!

Ad from my client Thrive Market

Are TikTok Ads Right for You?

Given all the information I’ve provided in this article, I hope you’ll be able to figure out whether or not you want to use TikTok ads. If you do, these tips should prove helpful.

If you’re not intrigued by TikTok ads, remember that Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook are all great ways to advertise on social media!