TikTok Ads in 2021: What You Need To Know

March 4, 2021

Oh, TikTok, the app filled with daggy dance trends, TMI storytimes and a plethora of catchy (yet normally explicit) tunes. Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay! And if you’re in the marketing field, chances are you’ll need to know the basics of TikTok ads sooner or later!

The short-form video platform has surged in popularity over the past year, with over 800 million active users reported in 2020 (Oberlo 2021), yet it still remains largely untouched by the marketing field. Why, may you ask? TikTok ads are EXPENSIVE, which is why you will mainly only see major brands promoting on the platform.

Types of Official TikTok Ads

When we talk about TikTok ads, there are several different ways that marketers can advertise on the platform, each with its own price range. The entry-level, minimum price spend is $6,000 (Voluum 2021), so it isn’t exactly affordable for the everyday business like Instagram or Facebook.

(Voluum 2021)

It is thought that since TikTok itself keeps the entry prices higher as to not flood the space with advertising, as many users praise the exposure of regular people sharing relatable/interactive content, versus the likes of Instagram which has been seen as becoming oversaturated with marketing material.

(TikTok, 2021)

The three major types of TikTok ads that you would notice on your feed are:

  1. TopView advertisements:
    These are the ads that start as soon as a user opens the app and transitions to appear at the top of the feed after 3 seconds, with distraction-free viewing that grabs 100% user attention.
    You can include a custom link for viewers to go to your website, and it can be linked to your TikTok profile and make it easier for viewers to follow your account.

  2. Brand Takeover:
    Brand takeover ads are similar to TopView ads, where they take up the full screen upon launching the app. What differentiates them from TopView ads is that Branded Takeover Ads appear as soon as the user opens the app and continue to stay there until the ad is complete or until the user clicks ‘Skip Ad.’
    You’ve probably seen them for big brands like Pepsi (and promptly clicked ‘Skip Ad’ like a reflex). Since they are expensive, it is generally only the bigger brands that can afford these style of TikTok ads. They can be purchased based on brand categories, whether it be food, fitness, or more.
    Wanting to do a Brand Takeover for your business? No problem! It costs just $50,000 per day (!) to gain 5 million guaranteed impressions (!) (Voluum 2021).

  3. In-feed advertisements:
    The most common advertisements are In-Feed advertisements, which show up as you’re scrolling through the “For You” page. The ads can be up to 60-seconds of auto-play video with sound.
    What’s noted is that the average TikTok user can spot a well-produced ad easily amongst the often lo-fi user content, and often keep scrolling upon seeing ads. To counteract this, brands are getting creative by making more lo-fi and viral content to try to get viewer attention before they realise the video is branded. Brands even collaborate with TikTok influencers for ads to produce more TikTok-appropriate content.
    They run in three action models: Cost per click, cost per impression, or cost per 6-second view. There is a $6,000 minimum campaign spend (TikTok For Business 2021).
(TikTok: For Business 2021)

The two types of TikTok ads that rely heavily on user-generated content are:

  1. Hashtag Challenges: Promoted hashtag challenges appear on the explore page, which encourage users to create content using a brand’s hashtag.
    A brand case study that showed incredible growth through using a Hashtag Challenge ad is Guess (pictured above). They called for TikTok users to show their denim style through the #InMyDenim hashtag.
    The campaign was live for a 6-day period and had over 10.5 million videos from over 5,550 user-generated videos and over 12k additional followers for the official Guess TikTok account. It goes to show that these expensive campaigns can wield impressive results (TikTok For Business 2021).
    Often you will see viral videos that are completely irrelevant to the campaign objective using the hashtags, as many users try to use trending hashtags to end up on the For You Page. It goes to show that even if users do not want to produce the intended content, the brand name can end up on any form of video on the platform during that period.
  2. Branded effects: You know the endless Instagram and Snapchat filters that are branded? TikTok has the same feature. Creating a branded filter effect is also an option for a TikTok advertiser, and can be used by creators for their content.

Influencer Marketing
Another way of promotion on the platform is through influencer collaborations. Any brand’s TikTok marketing strategy would benefit from adding some budget to collaborate with influencers, as the platform thrives on creator content.

Have you noticed that many TikTok songs are now all over the radio as the hottest hits? Music labels have benefitted incredibly from TikTokkers who have used songs for dances and trends, and it has launched many careers, including Lil Nas X.

Nas, whose hit song ‘Old Town Road’ first saw popularity through TikTok, became the longest-running number-one song on the Billboard Hottest 100 (Billboard 2021). This shows the potential impact a popular TikTok song can have on musicians.

While much TikTok music success has been organic, music labels now pay largely followed TikTok users to use their music when creating dance trends or viral trends in order to get their music heard.
With many influencers in food, fashion and more, other industries are adopting TikTok influencer marketing strategies in order to get that reach. As long as the content doesn’t feel forced or overly produced, it has great potential to positively reach potential consumers.

The Verdict
If you’ve got a spare 50k laying around, this is the app for your ads! Otherwise, it appears that the TikTok ad arena is mainly designed for larger brands and doesn’t appear to be relaxing these budgets any time soon.

Have any questions about TikTok advertising or working with influencers on TikTok? Feel free to reach out to us today at [email protected]


Billboard 2021, Started On TikTok, Now We’re Here, Billboard, viewed 1 February 2021 <https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/8524319/lil-nas-x-old-town-road-tiktok-beginning>

Oberlo 2021, 10 TikTok Statistics You Need To Know, Oberlo, viewed 4 February 2021, <https://au.oberlo.com/blog/tiktok-statistics>

TikTok For Business 2021, TikTok Ads, TikTok For Business, viewed 29 January 2021,  <https://www.tiktok.com/business/en-US/apps/tiktok>

Voluum 2021, Affiliate Marketing and TikTok Ads: A Short Guideline, Voluum, viewed 5 February 2021, <https://voluum.com/blog/tiktok-ads-for-affiliate-marketing>


Tommy is a Social Media Coordinator at Milkbar Digital. He loves writing punny copy, creating an aesthetic feed and finding the trendiest influencers for client accounts. In his spare time, you can find him sussing the yummiest brunch spots and bingeing the best new TV shows.

Milkbar Digital is a Melbourne social media and digital marketing agency here to help business small and large. If you need help with your social media or don’t know where to begin, get in touch!

No comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe To Blog Posts