12 Best Practices to Boost Your TikTok Ad Performance

By Tinuiti Team

TikTok has been downloaded a whopping 3.5 billion times globally, and the app has 30.8 million active daily users on the iOS version alone. That all adds up to a ton of consumers eager for consumable content — your brand’s content included.

If you’re ready to take advantage of TikTok trends and expand your business’s reach, you’ve come to the right post. We’re going to dive into 12 best practices for advertisers on TikTok, and provide some actionable tips to help get your strategy started today.

Ready to Dominate TikTok? Follow These 12 Best Practices

Creating a TikTok ad that users genuinely enjoy will require you to think outside of what tends to perform on other social media channels. TikTok’s audience is young, casual, and eager to swipe away if your content doesn’t catch their interest – to keep them watching, try following these best practices:

1. Set measurable performance goals

A strategic TikTok ad push starts with setting performance goals that are specific and measurable. You can find potential advertising objectives in your TikTok Ads Manager account, with goals like driving traffic to a specific URL, maximizing ad impressions or collecting leads.

Beyond the platform’s built-in performance goals, remember to measure the performance of your creative assets. TikTok is a highly visual platform, so ensure you have the analytical capabilities to understand which videos, filters, or sounds are most appealing to your audience.

TikTok Ads Manager

2. Stay aware of trends and subcultures

From popular dances to the most-used sounds and filters, TikTok is all about trends. In addition to piggybacking off movements, like getting your team to do that unforgettable Meghan Trainor Gucci routine, you should also use hashtags to appeal to the TikTok algorithm and increase the likelihood your ads will end up in front of new audiences.

TikTok hashtags play a crucial role in categorizing video content, making it easily discoverable for users seeking specific topics. These hashtags primarily originate from user-generated content, allowing users to explore and find additional relevant videos.

Hashtags are great for:

Hot Tip: Keep in mind that brands cannot use hashtags in a traditional paid approach, only in Challenges & Branded Hashtags

The importance of staying on trend is one way that advertising on TikTok differs from other social media platforms. While Facebook has traditionally relied on pay-for-play models with hashtags and trending content having little to do with where and how often ads show up, TikTok is all about user-generated content (UGC). You’ll be better positioned for marketing success if your content builds on existing trends while encouraging your audience to join in

“Browsing TikTok’s Creative Center is crucial in understanding how brands can leverage hashtag analytics within ad creative. Inside the trends subsection, marketers can observe trending hashtags and even sort by industry allowing a brand to position ad creative and copy to align with current platform trends.”

Jake King, Senior Art Director at Tinuiti

3. Partner with creators

Your marketing potential will grow exponentially if you join forces with a TikTok influencer. They can help you get traction in a new-to-you niche or dip your toes into content types that aren’t in your arena of expertise. You can research and evaluate individual influencers via TikTok’s Creator Marketplace, or connect with an influencer marketing agency to quickly find your perfect match.

example of tiktok vertical video

Creator benefits include:

Hot tip: When selecting creators to work with, take into account your target consumers and the diverse forms of representation they identify with, including gender, sizes, and cultures. Ensure that your consumers can see themselves, quite literally, with your product. Embracing inclusivity and representation in your creative will foster a stronger connection with your audience and enhance the relatability of your brand.

4. Create videos for full-screen vertical viewing

TikTok’s feeds are all vertically oriented, and your videos should be too. TikTok users aren’t going to rotate their devices or find a magnifying glass to take in your visual masterpiece. And this bit of advice isn’t just for aesthetic purposes, either — vertical videos have 40.1% more impressions compared to videos shot using a square or horizontal aspect ratio.

5. Keep variety and visual appeal top of mind

While a one-shot ad spot may be the easiest type to film, it’s not what TikTok users want to see. Videos that use a variety of visually appealing set-ups, including B-roll and transition footage, see over 40% more impressions. For brands, variety is even more important: 99% of top-performing ecommerce videos on the app use multiple video settings and angles.

“Data shows introducing multiple people and switching between angles outperforms ad creative with a sole individual. Additionally, brands should add variable product nuances as an added benefit (e.g. Showing multiple color or style variants of the same product).”

Jake King, Senior Art Director at Tinuiti

6. Create short and sweet videos

Size matters, but maybe not in the way you think. With TikTok videos, less is more. Viewers need to be hooked immediately – and if your video begins to bore them, they’re going to swipe in search of their next dopamine rush. For that reason, TikTok (and Tinuiti) recommend shorter videos, with important messaging presented up front.

Hot Tip: Many top-performing videos fall within the range of 20 to 40 seconds, striking the right balance between engagement and brevity. Given today’s shorter attention spans, aim to keep your TikTok ad around 30 seconds long. Use this time thoughtfully to highlight the product’s beauty, functionality, details, and unique benefits. Remember, every second counts in making a compelling impact on TikTok.

When creating videos, TikTok recommends following a script structure. While script structures can vary, it’s important to always remember to keep your target audience in mind. An example of a script structure could look like this:

The Hook

The initial 3-6 seconds of your ad hold immense significance and influence. Utilize this timeframe effectively by captivating your target audience with an attention-grabbing hook tailored to their interests. This opening is what will motivate them to continue watching your ad.

The Key Message 

Now that you’ve captured their attention, it’s time to deliver your Key Message. This message should convey your product’s selling points in a clear and concise manner. Always keep your audience in mind, considering what feels authentic to their lifestyles, interests, and priorities.

The Call to Action 

Finally, encourage them to take action with specific instructions. Whether you want them to click a link, visit a store, or purchase a particular product, communicate that action clearly and memorably. Ensure that your audience knows precisely how to proceed with your next steps.

“Consider utilizing TikTok’s Script Generator within the Creative Center as a starting point for your narrative. Determined by your industry and product details – the generator will export custom VO scripts along with on-screen visual and text recommendations.”

Jake King, Senior Art Director at Tinuiti

7. Center your brand and CTA

Don’t get lost in the sauce. As fun as TikTok trends and influencer partnerships are, you still need to keep your brand and CTA center stage. As we mentioned above, viewers should have a clear next step in mind after watching your ad. TikTok’s clickable CTAs help move things along by giving you the ability to lead consumers to a shopping deal, special offer, location finder and more.

8. Always add captions

Adding captions to support visual and auditory messages allows users who can’t have their sound on to understand what you’re trying to convey. It also builds on the story you’re telling by adding facts and expanding the narrative and makes room for hashtags, user tags and pithy language that users can easily connect to.

9. Balance entertainment and promotion

Entertainment-related content accounts for some 535 billion hashtag views on TikTok, but ads are about sales. How can you reconcile the two? It’s all about balance. Use entertaining elements to get audiences engaged, then sprinkle in promotional content that soft sells users on your product or brand. If you’re new to TikTok, you might kick-start your account with more entertainment-based ads, then ramp up the useful promotional content (think how-tos and interactive videos) once consumers are more familiar with what you offer.

Hot tip: For optimal results, concentrate on featuring only one product in each video. In cases where you want to showcase multiple products, limit the number to a max of three. This ensures that key points remain clear, and your audience maintains their interest throughout the video. Keeping the focus on a select few products will increase the impact of your message.

10. Keep things light hearted and fun

Your content should focus on being fun, engaging, memorable and relatable. If consumers enjoy engaging with your brand, the TikTok algorithm will show your content to them more often – increasing the likelihood that they’ll follow your account or take a desired action.

If you need some ideas, here are some examples of TikTok content that can help you connect in a lighthearted way:

example of an influencer filming a tiktok video ad

11. Include catchy sounds

TikTok is full of sound snippets you can leverage while making your own content. Two popular options are licensed music tracks (used with permission, of course) and voiceovers from other content creators that you can lip sync to while adding your own spin. Over 93% of top-performing videos use audio — just remember to add captions for those viewers sneaking a peek at their FYP during quiet time.

Sound benefits include:

12. Engage in creative testing

The only way to know whether you’re running the best ads for your business is to continually test new creative approaches. Mix up content styles, production techniques, sounds and influencer contributions. If you’re just getting started, try TikTok’s Automated Creative Optimization to get ideas of which creative assets are driving engagement on the app. 

Hot tip: You can also take a look at TikTok’s Creative Center, a free, public-facing website serving as a one-stop shop for TikTok creative resources. With this tool at your disposal, you can create better videos with help from today’s latest trend data, music, and insights.

However, if you want to understand how your videos impact behavior throughout your entire marketing funnel, you should consider working with a performance creative agency.

“Ad testing should be key within your creative approach. In the world of TikTok, what works well for one brand is most certainly not a one-size-fits-all approach. Especially considering what will resonate with your audience can be vastly segmented.”

Jake King, Senior Art Director at Tinuiti

Budgeting Best Practices for TikTok Ads

Now comes the big question: How much does it cost to execute on all these tips and best practices? Well, it depends.

Like many other paid media channels, TikTok ads are purchased through an auction process. Brands can set a budget, choose an audience, select a bidding strategy, and TikTok will automatically serve advertisements based on those parameters. This is why it’s so important to clearly define your audience – if you can reach an audience that’s relatively untapped by other advertisers, using TikTok ads won’t break the bank.

However, if you’re looking to estimate how much a TikTok ad will cost, here’s a general idea:

Frequently Asked Questions About TikTok Ads

Before you start crafting your TikTok ads, here are some questions that clients tend to ask:

What video ad specs does TikTok use?

TikTok prefers videos that fit the following specs:

Check out this article for more information on TikTok specs. 

Which TikTok ad formats can I use?

Two of the most popular TikTok ad formats are Spark Ads and in-feed ads, but you can also take advantage of TikTok’s Brand Takeovers, Branded Hashtag Challenges, TopView ads (these videos can be up to a minute long and appear at the top of user’s FYP feeds), and other promotional options like Branded Effects.

Which is better: Paid or organic TikTok ads?

Both paid and organic TikTok ads can deliver big results. Which avenue you choose depends on your goals. Organic reach is better for long-term objectives, such as building a community and forging relationships with consumers. Paid ads are more effective when you want to push time-sensitive information and boost sales quickly.

“A paid approach in TikTok provides several advantages over relying solely on organic growth. Paid allows brands to precisely target, allowing you to reach a much wider audience. Paid will also provide better control over a brand’s reach and engagement metrics. While organic growth is important to build a genuine following, the paid approach will accelerate a brand’s exposure and drive immediate results.”

Jake King, Senior Art Director at Tinuiti

Can I repurpose content from other channels for TikTok?

In an ideal setting, it’s best practice to avoid repurposing video content from other channels like YouTube or Instagram. The user interface of TikTok is different, meaning that important information might be obscured by buttons or captions. Additionally, users are looking for different types of content on either platform. While an ad on Instagram should look sleek and professional, it’s better if your TikTok ads are a little more scrappy.

If you’re working with a tighter budget or have bandwidth concerns, it’s fine to reformat existing creative to work within channel nuances. These days, vertical video has very similar safe-zones across platforms so your video should transfer properly should you need to repurpose.


TikTok is massively popular, which means it has similarly massive potential as a marketplace for advertisers eager to reach out to trend-hungry consumers. While resonating with TikTok’s volatile (but discerning) audience can be challenging, these best practices should help you take steps in the right direction.

Ready to get started? To make the most of your time, energy and budget, check out Tinuiti’s Paid Social and Creative Services and see how our experts can help you take your next big step.

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