An Introduction to TikTok Advertising (Jon Loomer)

Jon Loomer


TikTok advertising is basically Facebook advertising with TikTok branding.

There. That’s it. I stressed about the best way to introduce TikTok advertising in a soft, inviting way so that you won’t be intimidated. I don’t think there’s a better way to explain why this isn’t scary.

If you have ever run Facebook ads before, you will feel right at home in the TikTok Ads Manager. That’s right. It even uses the same name as Facebook’s product.

I first started advertising on Facebook more than a decade ago. It’s where I’m most comfortable. I use Facebook ads to experiment. I use them to reach new people and I use them to micro-target those who are most engaged.

I have Facebook ads to thank for my business. Not only did I use them to drive traffic to my website, build my email list, and sell my courses and membership, but Facebook advertising is the central focus of the vast majority of my content.

I resisted TikTok advertising. But, when I first jumped in, I was relieved. The similarities are uncanny. I immediately felt at home.

In this post, let’s take a simple tour of TikTok advertising to help get you started.

TikTok Campaign Creation

Campaign creation on TikTok starts in a familiar way, with an objective.

For the sake of this tutorial, we’re going to create a Traffic campaign. That will impact some of the settings we see later.

After selecting your objective, you’ll be able to turn on four settings.

This is going to be a recurring theme, but these are all things you’ll run into when creating a Facebook campaign.

Special Ad Categories are for situations when you advertise sensitive topics or industries that require different settings.

A split test allows you to run a scientific test against a single variable.

Campaign Budget Optimization can be turned on when using multiple ad groups (not ad sets here). You would establish a campaign budget that would be distributed among the ad groups optimally to get you the best results.

And a campaign budget (no optimization) allows you to set a daily or lifetime cap on how much you’ll spend in that campaign if using multiple ad groups.

TikTok Ad Group Creation

This is the Facebook ad set equivalent, and it looks quite similar as well.

Automatic placements are on by default (only three placements are available otherwise).

TikTok offers an Automated Creative Optimization option that behaves like Dynamic Creative on Facebook.

You can provide several creative assets, and TikTok will mix and match to find the best combinations.

Targeting is actually a bit unique. First, you can select an Automatic Targeting option.

This would put your fate into the hands of the algorithm, but it’s certainly worth trying if you don’t know where to start.

The Demographics section is similar to Facebook, though with some quirks.

First, your country targeting will likely be limited. Most advertisers get a small group of countries that they can target based on where their business is registered.

You can select different, unconnected age groups (like 18-24 AND 35-44), which isn’t something you can do on Facebook.

And that Household Income option is a bit of a blast from the past since it was removed from Facebook during the past couple of years.

The Audience section is simply where you target or exclude your custom audiences and lookalike audiences. We’ll get to those a bit later.

While the concept of Interests & Behaviors isn’t new, some of these methods are certainly unique to TikTok.

Types of video interactions, creator interactions, and hashtag interactions all provide some nice alternatives to the standard interests and behaviors.

You can target by device, drilling down to connection type, carrier, and even device price.

There are a couple of interesting differences in the budgeting section.

First, there are minimum budgets that you need to contend with here (Facebook doesn’t have one in most cases). The minimum budget tends to be either $10 or $20, depending on the objective.

Also, you can use dayparting for either daily or lifetime budgets (it’s only available for lifetime on Facebook).

And finally, you’ll need to select an optimization goal (if it can be edited at all). By default, you’ll use Lowest Cost bidding, but you can use Bid Cap if you know what you’re doing.

TikTok Ad Creation

Ad creation on TikTok is stripped down when compared to Facebook. There aren’t nearly as many automated creative optimizations here.

You can create an ad from scratch or you can make it super simple by using Spark Ads to promote an existing video.

You have the option of single video or collection ads.

And you can throw on some interactive add-ons.

TikTok Custom Audiences

You’ll see some familiar custom audiences on TikTok, though these are pretty basic when compared to Facebook’s options.

Most advertisers can only create customer file audiences based on device IDs (for app developers) at the moment. Email and phone numbers are in testing.

Engagement custom audiences are curiously only focused on engagement with your ads (or ad groups, to be more precise).

Though the Business Account custom audience does allow you to create audiences based on followers, engagement, and video views. Just not with specific videos.

The website custom audience may be what most advertisers will gravitate to…

One huge caveat, though, is that these audiences only build off of traffic to your website that comes from TikTok. That’s a big disadvantage when compared to Facebook website custom audiences.

Another important note is that you can only use any of these audiences if there are more than 1,000 people in them to target.

This minimum may make a lookalike audience more desirable.

There are actually some differences here. You can choose to omit or contain the source audience (it’s automatically removed from the Facebook lookalike audience). You can specify the placement, assuming that may alter the type of audience that you want to reach.

Finally, you can choose from narrow, balanced, or broad audiences, rather than selecting a percentage from one to 10.

You Can Do This!

Overall, TikTok advertising isn’t all that intimidating. It’s easy for advertisers to get started.

Of course, don’t expect everything to work the same as it does on Facebook. TikTok Ads Manager is more basic than Facebook in most cases. There are more limits and restrictions (though there are exceptions where TikTok offers things Facebook doesn’t).

And you shouldn’t assume that ads that work on Facebook will work on TikTok. This is a completely different platform and users expect completely different content. You should use the platform and consume content first before creating ads here.

Have you started advertising on TikTok yet? What do you think?

Let me know in the comments below!


Jon Loomer
Facebook Ads Strategist | Advertising Educator | Business Owner


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