6 Types of TikTok Ads with Examples (Why And How They’re Effective)

TikTok app open on iphone

If your brand is looking for more sales from social, TikTok ads should be a priority.

Food for thought: 84% of marketers are increasing their investment in TikTok in 2022.

Couple that with over a billion monthly active users and it’s clear that business is booming on TikTok. The platform’s rapid growth is a massive window of opportunity for brands.

The reality, though? TikTok is still largely untapped by advertisers, even as the platform evolves into a place to discover new products and engage with brands.

Below we’ve broken down six TikTok ad types, who they’re for and how they win customers.

  1. In-Feed Ads
  2. Spark Ads
  3. TopView Ads
  4. Brand Takeover Ads
  5. Branded Hashtag Challenge Ads
  6. Branded Effect Ads

6 Types of TikTok Ads (and TikTok Ad Examples)

The biggest benefit of running TikTok campaigns? Creative freedom!

There are plenty of ad formats to choose from that align with your brand’s goals. 

But before we get into the nitty-gritty, keep in mind that creators can boost performance across all types of TikTok ads.

tiktok ad example

Source: @1stphorm

In fact, TikTok recently released a report revealing the power of creator-based ads. From improved brand recall and engagement to view rates, TikTok ads featuring creators saw an 83% higher engagement rate versus non-creator ads (12%)

As we explore the ad types below, consider how you could integrate creators into your campaigns.

1. In-Feed Ads

These types of TikTok ads appear as people scroll through their “For You Page” (FYP). 

In-Feed ads can be up to 60 seconds long (although videos between 9 to 15 seconds seem to be the “sweet spot”). TikTokers can actually engage with these ads via likes, comments (sometimes) and shares. On the flip side, these ads are also skippable. 

Brands that create this type of TikTok ad can include a call-to-action button that links to a landing page. If your goal is to drive traffic or sales from TikTok, In-Feed ads can do the trick.

For example, check out how Livish’s In-feed ad feels like something you might see organically on your FYP.

TikTok Ad Livish

Source: TikTok

These Types of TikTok Ads are Ideal for…

  • Brands that want their ads to blend naturally in with the native content feed (versus being totally in-your-face).
  • CPG brands or anyone selling a physical product — these ads are perfect for showing off products in action.
  • Anyone looking to dip their toes into TikTok advertising (since this is the most common ad format and the easiest to create).

2. Spark Ads

Spark ads allow brands to promote their existing TikTok content and user videos rather than create a video from scratch.

Like In-Feed ads, these ads look and feel like organic content. That’s because they appear in-feed without interrupting the scrolling experience.

But unlike In-Feed ads, Spark ads can link out to a TikTok account versus just a landing page. Since these ads are attributed to an actual TikTok account, viewers can visit the original poster directly. 

All of the video views, comments, shares, likes and follows gained during a Spark promotion are attributed to the original, organic post. This happens whether it’s the brand’s, or the creator’s, piece of content. The additional analytics built into Spark ads make it easy to assess the ROI of a campaign.

That said, Spark ads can include a CTA button that directs viewers to a landing page instead of an account page. Viewers can also tap the ad’s music icon to view the audio page for that track (and use it in future TikToks).

TikTok spark ads example

Source: TikTok

These Types of TikTok Ads are Ideal for…

  • Brands that already have viral content that has potential as a TikTok ad.
  • Companies that want to leverage social proof by partnering with a creator with a larger, established following than their own.
  • Brands interested in expanding their audience and brand awareness versus direct sales.

3. TopView Ads

These “video-first format” ads are 60 seconds long and appear immediately after someone opens the TikTok app. 

These ads are unique because they’re full-screen and auto-play with sound. Advertisers can include a call-to-action button within the ad. These ads are quite literally “must-see” since they take over your entire screen.

If you’re looking for seamless ads that feel organic, TopView ads probably aren’t your best bet. That’s because they can potentially interrupt the user experience. Coupled with their length, TopView is among the most “traditional” of TikTok’s video ads because they feel like commercials.

However, that doesn’t stop them from being effective. In fact, 71% of TikTokers say TopView ads grab their attention. The platform themselves also notes that CPG companies experienced 67% higher sales effectiveness when using these types of TikTok ads. Go figure!

Check out how Experian uses this ad format to promote their app and drive people to their FICO Score landing page:

exerpian tiktok tad

Source: TikTok

These Types of TikTok Ads are Ideal for…

  • Brands that already have existing ad creatives and commercials they want to repurpose.
  • Companies with big ad budgets — the in-your-face nature of these ads increases the price tag (hint: 7.4 million impressions cost $65,000 per day in 2020 for TopView ads).
  • Brands that have experience with other types of TikTok ads (or know that their engagement on the platform justifies the ad spend).

TikTok planner for brands

4. Brand Takeover Ads

These full-screen ads appear on the FYP immediately after someone opens TikTok. They’re created using 3 to 5-second videos (or 3-second images), directing viewers to a Hashtag Challenge or landing page. Brands can choose either depending on their campaign objective.

TikTokers only see one Branded Takeover ad per day. This means less competition for the ad space but also makes them a bit pricey.

brand takeover ad tiktok

Source: TikTok

These Types of TikTok Ads are Ideal for…

  • Brands interested to build buzz for events or getting a TikTok hashtag trending (like Guess’ #InMyDenim campaign).
  • Product launches where brands attempt to drive a large, one-off surge in traffic.
  • Brands with big budgets looking to maximize ad exposure (with less competition).


5. Branded Hashtag Challenge Ads

These sponsored hashtag challenges are featured at the top of TikTok’s Discover Page. This form of advertising results in greater engagement (on average 8.5%) and encourages user-generated content, too.

Here’s a snapshot of how these types of TikTok ads work:

  • A viewer clicks on the branded hashtag challenge at the top of the Discover Page.
  • They’re taken to a Brand Challenge page containing a description of the challenge, rules, the sponsoring brand’s logo and a link to their website.
  • TikTokers then create their own content based on the challenge, using the brand’s hashtag to promote their post.

pringles hashtag challenge

Source: TikTok

The #PlayWithPringles challenge is an awesome example of how powerful Branded Hashtag Challenge Ads can be. This particular challenge launched in Germany, France and Italy during the pandemic. Participants showed off their creativity through dance, comedy and TikTok’s music library

TikTok Ad for pringlesSource: TikTok

To say the campaign was a success would be an understatement. In fact, nearly 350,000 TikTokers contributed to the challenge which earned over one billion views at the time.

These Types of TikTok Ads are Ideal for…

  • Brands that want to encourage more user-generated content.
  • Companies with experience promoting hashtag campaigns elsewhere (or brands with established, well-known hashtags).
  • Brands focused on building awareness and increasing engagement among TikTokers.

6. Branded Effects

Think Snapchat and Instagram! Just like with these platforms, Branded Effects allow brands to create sharable stickers, filters and special effects on TikTok for self-promotion. Brands will often combine this format with other TikTok ads. 

The benefit? Filters and special effects are often loud and flashy, making them perfect for TikTok’s audience. These types of ads are ideal for drumming up engagement and likewise getting more UGC.

For example, PUMA created a Branded Effect (along with a hashtag challenge) to promote their Future Flash collection under the #FlashOfFuture tag. This campaign garnered 587.5 million views at the time.

branded effect ads on tiktok

Source: TikTok

These Types of TikTok Ads are Ideal for…

  • Brands looking to create an aesthetic or identity on TikTok.
  • Companies with creative talent on hand, given the legwork and expertise required to create digital effects.
  • Brands looking to maximize the exposure of an existing TikTok promotion.

What are the Most Effective Types of TikTok Ads?

Let’s say you’re brainstorming ideas for your own TikTok campaigns.

Nice! But what kind of ads do you want to create? What should your vibe be?

To wrap things up, let’s look at some creative ideas and inspiration to help you understand the types of TikTok ads that really resonate with viewers.

Inspirational Ads

Fact: 39% of TikTok users say “lifting spirits” is a key factor in deciding whether to purchase a product. Anything you can do to empower, inspire or make life easier for your audience is a plus.

For example, check out how Hello Fresh motivates their viewers to eat healthy while reminding them that doing so doesn’t have to be a hassle.

hello fresh tiktok ad

Source: @hellofresh

Humorous Ads

Did you know that TikTok ads with comedy cues are 24% more likely to be watched all the way through? 

Incorporating humor into your ads is a perfect way to keep them from feeling like ads at all. Brands like Dr. Squatch have mastered the art of making ads that show off products but begin with a comedic hook to reel in viewers.

TikTok Ad for Dr Squatch

Source: @drsquatch

Creator-based Ads

Remember what we said earlier about the effectiveness of creator-based ads?

Well, we’re saying it again! TikTok ads that feel like organic content tend to perform well.  On that note, TikTok ads featuring creators achieved 91% higher two-second view rates versus non-creator ads (8%).

Check out this TikTok promotional post for Bounce Curl that came from a Statusphere creator. 

bounce curl creator content on TikTok

Source: @fatvegana

These are the types of posts that fit seamlessly into your audience’s feeds and don’t feel salesy. At the same time, you’re able to show off your products more as viewers stick around longer to learn more.

While these posts aren’t exactly a TikTok ad type, your brand can still partner with creators to hit your advertising goals. Given that TikTok influencers already know how to create quality content for their highly-engaged audience, they’re a brilliant starting point for advertising on TikTok.

Free TikTok Webinar - Watch Now

Which Types of TikTok Ads Could Give Your Brand a Boost?

Whether you’re looking to expand to TikTok or reach an existing audience, running an ad campaign can boost engagement sooner rather than later.

The good news? Depending on your goals and budget, chances are there’s a TikTok ad type that makes perfect sense for your business.

That said, we’ve seen firsthand how creator campaigns (and creator-based ads) totally crush it when it comes to performance. This rings true for brands of all shapes and sizes.

From helping with your hashtag challenge trend to creating highly visible user-generated content, creators are a proven way to build up your brand on TikTok. If you want to learn more about how to leverage creators for your next TikTok campaign, talk to one of our consumer-to-consumer marketing specialists today.

This article was first published in March 2021. It was last updated March 2, 2022.  

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