Small Business TikTok Advertising Guide: Ad Formats + Examples

By: Cori Widen, Product Marketing Lead at Boosted by Lightricks

TikTok recently announced the launch of “TikTok For Business,” their new platform for brands looking to advertise on TikTok. TikTok For Business includes an e-learning center to help marketers learn more about the TikTok platform and their advertising options. TikTok offers four key ad campaigns, including: Brand Takeovers, In-Feed Video Ads, Branded Effects and Hashtag Challenges. Additionally, it’s a good practice for brands to collaborate with influencers when advertising on TikTok.

While most of the viral TikTok advertising campaigns are hosted by big brands with big marketing budgets, your small business can still test out TikTok ads. But before you get started advertising on TikTok, it’s important to make sure it actually makes sense for your company. TikTok users are usually a younger demographic – 41% of TikTok’s users are between 16 and 24 years of age and 66% of users are under 30. If your target customers are Millennials and Gen Z then TikTok is most likely a good fit! Keep reading for a complete breakdown of the different types of ad formats on TikTok and some examples of best practices. 

1. Brand Takeover

A Brand Takeover advertisement is the ad that a TikTok user will see in their feed first-thing, before they can view any user-generated videos. Brand Takeovers can be an image, GIF or a video which will then be able to link back to a brand’s website or a Hashtag Challenge if they are also running this type of TikTok promotion as well. While TikTok doesn’t officially release prices for all of their advertising campaigns, there can only be one Brand Takeover per day within each category so this type of advertising promotion might be too costly for a small business to test out.

TikTok put together a Brand Takeover case study from Too Faced a makeup brand with an active TikTok presence. The goal of their Brand Takeover was to drive awareness and sales for one of their lip glosses among UK-based Gen Z women. The results of the brand takeover? 7.6M ad impressions and 1.3 million clicks! You can check the full details of the campaign here.

2. In-Feed TikTok Ads

Native Video ads usually appear sandwiched between users’ videos in the TikTok feed and will automatically run with the sound on just like a regular TikTok video. These in-feed video ads can be up to 60 seconds long and support several call-to-action options such as clicks and app installs. You have several options as well when it comes to ad placements like “In-feed.” “Detail Page,” “Post-roll” and “Story”. This type of campaign is likely the best option for small businesses with smaller marketing budgets. The minimum budget for a TikTok campaign is $500 and the minimum budget for ads is $50. You can learn more about the ad formats and prices here.

Here’s some in-feed ad inspiration from popular brands:


Do the Slurpee Shimmee! Once the Slurpee hits the spot, freestyle to the flow of that slurp!

♬ original sound – Sponsored Content – Sponsored Content



3. ‘Brand Scan’ Branded Effects

TikTok’s brand new AR effect is called “Brand Scan,” which offers 2D or 3D lenses that users can test out for themselves. Branded Effects allow TikTok users to apply these lenses to their own TikTok videos, allowing brands like MAC to let fans test out their latest lipstick colors. This advertising format is recommended to be used with a Hashtag Challenges to boost a brand’s engagement even more. While we don’t know the exact price, Digiday reported the Branded Effects cost around $100,000.

4. Hashtag Challenge

And finally, the most popular and fun type of TikTok ad campaign is a Hashtag Challenge! If you’ve ever scrolled through TikTok, you know the platform is full of great challenges and trends created by both users and brands. A Hashtag Challenge allows brands to promote their own challenge for users to recreate in their own videos. When brands host a Hashtag Challenge advertisement on TikTok, they will have a ‘page’ where their challenge lives and users can see the instructions for the challenge as well as all of the videos that have already been created as part of the Hashtag Challenge.

Unfortunately a Hashtag Challenge is likely out of the price range for most small businesses reportedly there is a $150,000 flat fee for the first six days of hosting a challenge and possibly an additional cost of $100,000 – $200,000 to promote the challenge. While it might be too costly to host your own Hashtag Challenge, this doesn’t mean your small business can’t still participate and create your own challenges!

Burger King’s Hashtag Challenge

Burger King recently partnered with TikTok to host a TiKTok challenge called the #WhopperDance. TikTok users who participate in the #WhopperDance challenge will be given a discount code to redeem for a $1 Whopper. Some videos from the campaign:


I can’t believe this worked!! 😱🤯  do the #WhopperDance to get a $1 whopper. @burgerking U.S. only #ad #dance #tiktok #music #fyp #foryou

♬ Whopper Dance – Burger King

move it for a $1 Whopper 🍔👯‍♀‍. learn the #WhopperDance from @lorengray.

♬ Whopper Dance – Burger King

Aerie’s Hashtag Challenge

Once quarantine started, Aerie jumped on the TikTok bandwagon and hosted their first TikTok campaign: the #AerieRealPositivity Hashtag Challenge. Their challenge asks users to post a video sharing the three things they are thankful for right now. Some standout videos from the campaign:


share what you’re doing to stay positive right now by tagging @aerie and #aerierealpositivity #ad

♬ 100% Real Love – PopUpGirl

Share what you’re doing to stay positive right now by tagging @aerie and #AerieRealPositivity #ad

♬ 100% Real Love – PopUpGirl

Need some additional inspiration to help you get started advertising on TikTok? Luckily, TikTok has quite a few case studies you can check out to get inspired. Head to their TikTok For Business page where you search their TikTok advertising case studies by industry, the type of ad and even filter to search by countries. Additionally, here are some TikTok advertising examples from brands like KIA, Colgate, Too Faced, Guess, Universal Pictures.  

Cori Widen is the Product Marketing Lead at Boosted by Lightricks. She has been leading product marketing campaigns and doing qualitative market research in the tech industry for 10 years.

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