TikTok Ad Formats: Everything You Need To Know

TikTok is a marketing must for all brands looking to reach Gen Z in 2022. Here's everything you need know about TikTok ad formats.
Fanbytes | TikTok Ad Formats

In 30 seconds:

  • Everything you could wish to know about TikTok ad formats is in this article, plus some top tips to get them working for your brand.
  • Gen Z is the most challenging generation to advertise to, yet they’re worth $143 billion. Here’s how to make ads that win them over.
  • Bonus points! We have an extra tip to help your TikTok ads excel.

TikTok ad formats have evolved. As the app has grown (it’s now overtaken Google as the most visited web domain), TikTok has adapted its ad platform offerings and features for brands. It’s important to know what the latest advert options are and how you can use them to grow. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place to swat up and smash your ad campaigns out of the park.

In 2021, TikTok generated an estimated $4.6 billion in revenue, a 142% increase yearly. Marketers are cottoning on to the benefits of TikTok ads and want a piece of the action. With the app reaching over 3 billion downloads in the last couple of years, there is a shining opportunity to access a large and willing audience for brand adverts. Or mostly willing. 

Tiktok users are mainly Gen Z. And advertising to Gen Z can be challenging. 51% of Generation Z internet users reported that they are using ad-blockers. They’re a formidable age group with a spending power of $143 billion, and with 63% of them using TikTok daily (more than Instagram), brands are starting to think about the best ways to reach them.

Advertising to Gen Z

Getting Gen Zers to fall in love with brands is what we do. Because of their impatience with adverts, we want to let you in on some top tips on making ads feel less like ads. You’ll get them listening up in no time. 

1. Keep ads short

Gen Z have an average attention span of 8 seconds. Your paid ad campaigns need to grip them within that time and not let go. So think outside of the box and get your best storytelling hat on. 

2. Make it relevant

Generation Z’s second top ad-blocking motivation is that ads are too annoying or irrelevant. Target your audience well to ensure they only see content they want to see. Your ROI and performance metrics will thank you for it. 

3. Work with influencers

Three out of four teenagers say they follow at least one influencer on social media. People trust influencers, so advertising with creator collaborations will make your advertising feel, well, not like advertising. More on this later.

These three tips will help your ad campaigns succeed in reaching Gen Z and keeping them engaged. The other element that will get your campaigns flourishing? TikTok itself. 

Why TikTok Ads?

TikTok ads have taken the marketing world by storm. 

67% of Tiktok users agree that ads on TikTok capture their attention; a 10% lead compared to other platforms. TikTok has always had fun, entertainment and trust at the centre of its core values, and it’s not about to throw that away with its ad formats. 

So how much do TikTok ads cost? They start for $10 per 1000 views (CPM), and there is a required minimum spend of $500 for a TikTok paid ads campaign. Is it worth it? 

There’s no denying that ads on this platform deliver. TikTok integrates ad content in clever and sometimes surprising ways that engage viewers and keep them watching. The formatting of ads also ensures that people stay stimulated, with 72% of people perceiving ads on TikTok as inspiring. 

It’s also the go-to platform for trends, with 7 in 10 people finding TikTok 21% more trendsetting than other platforms. Brands have harnessed trends in their ads and created interactive videos that promote user-generated content and spread brand awareness

The numbers do most of the talking. TikTok is a champion for ad campaigns. But what are the different TikTok ad formats, how do they work, and what’s best for your brand?

Let’s get into it. 

TikTok ad formats (plus examples of the best TikTok ads)

There are 6 different types of ad formats on TikTok available if you have TikTok for business. All of them work in slightly different ways and provide varying results. That’s why it’s so critical to understand what’s best for your brand and the goals you want to achieve within your campaigns. 

1. In-feed ads

In-feed ads are basically what they say on the tin. When individuals scroll through their For You Page (FYP), in-feed ads will appear in between user content. They’re up to a minute long, and TikTok designs them to fit in with other creators’ content for a seamless feel on the app. 

Ad specifications:

  • Aspect ratio: 9:16, 1:1, or 16:9
  • File type: .mp4, .mov, .mpeg, .3gp, or .avi
  • Duration: 5-60s allowed. (TikTok recommends 9-15s)

What it’s best for:

This is a great ad format option to drive traffic to a landing page. Tiktok In-feed video ads include a CTA button to a URL, so it’s great for upping sales and conversions. 

Top Tip:

Because the in-feed app is easy to scroll past, brands need to think of a way to hook their audience. Whether through storytelling, bold colours or an eye-catching video, it’s essential to make your ad pop in this context. Music is also a must as it creates more engaging content.

Example of a brand getting it right:

M&S created an in-feed ad campaign featuring TikTok comedy influencers for Valentine’s Day. They drew people in with sparky comedy and funny lines to get thumbs stopping. It generated more than 18.5 million impressions combined with an incredible average watch time of more than 4 seconds. The ad looked and felt like another piece of content within the FYP and boosted brand awareness through humour. A winning combination for an in-feed ad

2. Top-view ads

Top-view ads appear as soon as a user opens the TikTok app. They can be up to 60 seconds long, and they guarantee visibility as they are the first thing anyone sees when using TikTok. 

Ad specifications:

  • Aspect ratio: 9:16
  • File type: .mp4, .mov, .mpeg, .3gp, or .avi
  • Duration: 5-60s allowed. (TikTok recommend 15s)

What it’s best for:

Boosting brand exposure and awareness. Top view ads are impactful. They fill the screen and appear within the first three seconds of opening the app. They are the perfect place to get up your brand visibility. 72% prefer TikTok’s TopView ad format over others. Its full-screen visuals and sound-on experience are what make it so effective. 

Top Tip: 

Using high-quality videos and compelling content will create excitement at the start of someone’s TikTok experience, so get your creative thinking caps on and bring something innovative. 

Example of a brand getting it right:

We worked with sportswear brand Ellesse to create the first-ever shoppable live concert through an influencer-led marketing campaign that used Top-view ads. The Top-view Ad was a montage of the influencer videos that Fanbytes created, featuring music from Zara Larsson’s track, ‘Right Here’. The ads went live before the concert, drumming up interest with a distinctive look that felt native to TikTok yet cutting-edge.

We achieved a total of 1.8M+ influencer views and 31K+ likes across all videos. Additionally, the hashtag challenge secured 4.2 billion views.

3. Brand Takeover Ads

Similar to Top-view ads, Brand Takeover ads appear when someone first opens the TikTok app. The only difference is these ads take over the full screen for 5 unskippable seconds and then turn into an in-feed ad

Ad specifications:

  • Aspect ratio: 9:16
  • File type: .mp4, .mov, .mpeg, .3gp, avi, jpeg or png
  • Duration: 3-5 seconds

What it’s best for:

Maximum attention and mass awareness. Since the first few seconds of these ads are unskippable, you have more of an opportunity to capture your audience. These ads are impactful and are great for driving brand awareness

Top Tip:

Get your message across quickly. You only have a few seconds to push your CTA with brand takeover ads. So get it out there at the beginning. 

Example of a brand getting it right:

Makeup brand Toofaced created a compelling Brand Takeover ad that drove sales and awareness for their brand. They wanted to help build brand favourability and awareness whilst using a strong CTA. That’s exactly what they did. This impactful ad shows off their product and tells the viewer exactly what to do. In just one day, it garnered an incredible 7.6 million impressions, 2.54 million unique.

4. Spark Ads

Spark ads are for boosting posts you’ve already made on your account. They allow you to promote content and still attribute any new engagement and view counts to your original video. It’s a great way to make sure your content lands for an engaged audience.

Ad specifications:

  • No restrictions. (It’s taken from your previously made content)

What it’s best for:

Building authentic engagement. Boosting your existing content helps your brand build authority on the platform. Spark Ads feel more organic because the posts are original content from your feed. 

Top Tip: 

Make sure to use a well-performing video to “spark”. Suppose you can choose posts that already have high engagement. In that case, Spark ads will work harder for your business and give better ROI. 

Example of a brand getting it right:

Our expert Fashion & Beauty division collaborated with JOAH Beauty to produce a bespoke TikTok influencer marketing strategy that harnessed Spark Ads. After our exclusive Bytesights tool to make insightful decisions on the campaign, we optimised our content to drive the best results by harnessing paid amplification. TikTok Spark Ads provided a superb opportunity to boost the best performing posts. We exceeded industry standards, driving over 14 million views and a 14% engagement rate for branded content on TikTok. You can read about the entire case study here.

5. Branded hashtag challenge

Branded hashtag challenges are king when it comes to UGC. This is where brands can invite users to participate in a trend they create through a branded hashtag. TikTok offers 3-6 day packages with media placement and creative guidance. Investment is what makes this a “branded” hashtag challenge. 

Ad specifications:

  • These TikTok ad specs are the same as any Tiktok video ad

What it’s best for:

Building engagement and organic reach. Branded hashtag challenges are all about going viral. The more people who use your hashtag, the better traction your brand will get. 

Top Tip:

Make sure to make the hashtag something memorable and fun. If you want to know how to make a bespoke hashtag that will help your brand go viral we’ve got a whole article on that here. #winning.

Example of a brand getting it right:

ASOS devised a branded hashtag challenge called the #AySauceChallenge. They asked users to “channel their ASOS vibe” and show off 3 top outfits over 3 weeks. They enlisted influencers to help spread the word on the challenge and this resulted in over 1.2 billion video views in just 6 days. Powerful stuff.

6. Branded effects

Branded effects (sometimes known as special effects, stickers, TikTok branded lenses, or TikTok lenses) are where brands can create an interactive bespoke filter for TikTokers to use. Branded effects can last up to 10 days at a time and are highly customisable. You can use green-screen effects where filters play on top of users as they record or interactive effects that will present the individual with a game, challenge or experience. 

What it’s best for:

Boosting UGC and upping engagement rates.

Top Tip:

Keep things fun and highly engaging. Branded effects involve the TikTok community and give them something to interact with. So think creatively about the content you want people to make. 

Example of a brand getting it right:

We worked with media agency MediaCom to celebrate the TV program, Changing Rooms’ long-awaited return to Channel 4. We worked with a TikTok branded effect illustrating Dulux’s new range on users’ walls. We selected influencers with whom this challenge fitted naturally, for content that would draw high engagement. We picked creators from niches including comedy, lifestyle, family, and home to use the filter and encourage followers to try it out for themselves. This campaign exceeded targets by over 827%. Pretty effective indeed. Take a look at the full case study here

7. Bonus points for influencer marketing

Okay, this isn’t technically an ad format. But it’s just as important as the ads themselves. Influencer marketing works. Brands want to invest more and more into this marketing niche because it delivers on ROI, recall and targets. What happens when you combine ads with influencer marketing? You get mind-blowing results. 

What it’s best for:

The best TikTok ads use influencers. Studies show that collaborating with TikTok creators can increase ad recall by 27%, and ads created for TikTok with creator partnership achieved 83% higher engagement rates. Why? Influencers know what makes their fans tick. They have already honed the right kind of audience and know the best ways to introduce brands to them. 

Top Tip:

One of the most important things brands need to remember when investing in influencer marketing is choosing the right creator for you. Gen Z are savvy, and they can sniff an overly-eager sales pitch an internet mile away. So make sure any influencer you work with is genuinely interested in your product or service and wants to promote it. It will help you get your message across in an authentic, appealing way and drive successful ad campaigns.

Example of a brand getting it right:

When it comes to influencer marketing, we know our stuff. With our own roster of top UK TikTok influencers and a killer creative strategy team, brands come back to us time and time again to help boost ad campaigns

Media agency Coolr came to us for help with Burger King’s social media campaign. They wanted to use influencer marketing to help promote sustainability, organic produce and even veganism within the fast-food industry, and we delivered. We created the ‘Conspiracy Challenge’ and used our award-winning Bytesights tool to identify eight of our best performing Lifestyle & Comedy creators on TikTok to build the campaign. We exceeded the initial targets for the campaign with 575K views and a very high 17% engagement rate. Take a look at the whole campaign here.

Conclusion: Which TikTok ad is right for my brand?

We’ve listed above which TikTok ad format will best suit different brand marketing needs, from driving app installs, increasing traffic to a landing page, boosting brand exposure and awareness, to building authentic engagement and organic reach, or simply keeping things fun. 

But the truth is, the format and types of TikTok ads you choose is only part of the story if you want to achieve incredible results using Tiktok ads. It can help turn brilliant content into a high-performing campaign – but you have to nail your content first.

Understanding what the different TikTok ad formats can offer you is a great first step to think about your ad campaign. But your next move should be to truly understand your audience on TikTok – so that you can make videos that inspire and excite them. After all, they’re on TikTok because they like TikTok. So get to know this social media platform. All the optimization in the world won’t help if your content is a poor fit. Instead, think about what your target audience’s ideal For You Page looks like, and create something they’ll want to see.

If that sounds daunting, get in touch. We’d love to talk you through how we come up with scroll-stopping creative concepts that make brilliant TikTok ads, and how you can use TikTok ads as part of a wider campaign to grow your TikTok account, win over the hearts of Gen Z, and make a meaningful impact on your business.

After more insights on running TikTok ads? Our TikTok Advertising article talks about how to set up an ads account and use TikTok ads manager, from setting a campaign objective and target audience (custom audience) or demographic, to measuring your Tiktok campaign and ad spend.

How about using native content to kick-start a killer Tiktok marketing campaign? An ad placement can and should be part of a wider strategy on Tiktok. Check out the links below:

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