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How to set up TikTok Ads for Apps – Insights & Data

TikTok Ads - How to set up campaigns
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A new star is born: TikTok, the hyper-viral video app that drives the Fortnite generation crazy, is being downloaded more often than Facebook, Instagram or Whatsapp. Its growth is stunning, content creators, celebrities, fun blogs, comedians and many more are joining the platform to benefit from its early success and build a massive followership overnight. 

Now, since TikTok allows first advertisers to use their platform and promote products and apps, we at Admiral Media were one of the first performance marketing agencies to jump on that opportunity and run some campaigns for few selected clients.

This article will show you how to set up your first campaigns, what to expect from the platform and how our current results compare to Facebooks Ad platform.

Prepare video ads

First of all it is important to understand that TikTok’s audience is way different from any other platform. The content and the way you consume the content is entirely different: 100% vertical video format, clear focus on funny short clips, we see more and more educational or political content happening, but we can assume the majority is still just fun content created by teens.

This has an impact on your video ads that you plan to run – obviously you can explore the channel and its performance with existing vertical video creatives & images that you used on other platforms but it is predictable that tailored video content will be more successful than your standard video ad that you run on Instagram. The style of the videos and mood that it creates among its users are entirely different from the usual Instagram content. Also the navigation is slightly different – liking, sharing, visiting a profile: this all happens on the right hand side of a video which takes the entire screen.

General Overview

Now let me share some real Insights & Screenshots from the platform. We have an agency account and manage different clients. It might be that a regular advertiser account looks a bit different. It is also important to highlight that it wasn’t easy to get an account – we needed several approvals from different departments in TikTok & every client we onboard needs another approval process – also depending on the target countries that you want to promote your apps in. Apparently some different teams are approving our clients to get access to different countries & some other countries are available from the start. Many countries are still not possible to target, eg. South Africa or Germany (03/13/2020).

TikTok Advertiser Dashboard

The screenshot above shows the front page after we logged into a clients account that we manage. You can see that it gives quite a nice overview and when scrolling down even shares some insights about demographics or dayparting. See Screenshot below.


TikTok demographics & day parting


Event Setup / Tracking

First thing you have to set up is creating “Events” in the Library which you can find in the top nav bar. Here you basically create an app and just enter the Google PlayStore or iTunes Link to your app and tell the platform if you are using any 3rd party MMP for tracking. You would need to set them up on your MMP dashboard as well and provide a tracking URL that will be used across all campaigns. I cannot share screenshots about the setup process here to protect our clients information. Once this is done and you linked the events from your MMP with TikTok events it will collect conversion data automatically. Pretty straight forward.

As you won’t have much data to use yet, it wouldn’t make sense to play a lot with TikTok’s audience feature – but in case you want to upload some offline data like IDFAs from users who made a purchase in the last 60 days you can easily do that and use the data to create lookalikes. It’s pretty much the same as Facebook except – and this is a downside on TikToks platform still – the audiences seem to be static. They do not refresh automatically & you will need to delete and re-create an audience every now and then which means you need to change your audiences on Adgroup level.


Campaign Setup

And this leads me to the campaign setup. As the Screenshot below shows you can chose between web traffic & conversions or mobile app install campaigns. As Admiral Media is specialised on App INstalls our choice is easy here. You will also name your campaign according to your typical naming conventions and allocate some budget to the campaign or leave it with “no limit” and simply choose daily adgoup budgets later on.

How to run TikTok Ads for Apps

See below a short video of the detailed Adgroup Level Setup and all the options you have. Looks very familiar for most of you I guess.



In the video above you saw that we entered a CPC but this option changes as soon as you select an app in the setup – we didn’t do that to protect our clients information but see a screenshot below how the actual bid strategy option looks like. So far we have used “Optimize Conversion at learning phase” only and went pretty good with it.

Bid strategy for performance Ads on TikTok

On the bottom the tracking URLs will appear – you remember you entered them in the “Event” setup when you connected your MMP with TikTik’s platform. This is pre-filled automatically now.

On the right hand side you can see an estimate of your audience size – it is recommended to hit the middle ground


Creative Setup 

Once you have entered all the information that your Campaign and Adgroup needs you will be directed to the ad level where you upload or choose all your creatives that you want to use. 

TikTok Ads - Creatives

As you can see below you are allowed to use images & videos. A total of 10 images and videos can be uploaded per Adgroup and thumbnails can be customized. You can exchange creatives at any time.

TikTok will now display random combinations of the material you provided and in case you toggled the “Ad Optimization” on (Adgroup Level) it will automatically pause the bad performing creatives.And that’s it. Straightforward and easy. Maybe worth to highlight that videos need to have background music and that you should double check how your videos are displayed as TiKTok as a unique navigation bar on the right where users like, share or comment on videos that they see. You want to avoid overlap of your assets with this navigation bar.


Comment moderation on ads

Some of you advertisers pay a lot of attention to users comments on ads. Well, this is still kinda difficult to monitor on TikTok because you would need to send a preview of the running ad to your own TikTok feed. For that you need to find out your TikTok user ID and scroll to the 4th video in your feed once you sent it to you. Kinda complex way to keep track of comments. IN case you want to be sure nobody is writing bad comments I would suggest you simply deactivate the comment function on your ads which you can do on AdGroup level.



So far we did run campaigns in US, UK, AU, CA & FR and spent around 50K EUR on it. Which is not a lot but gives us a first idea of the data – and it looks extremely promising for now. The channel is still under rated among advertisers or many didn’t get a chance to get an advertiser account. As far as we know TikTok still limits access to agencies or very selected direct advertisers. This means the available inventory is still relatively cheap compared to other channels and users are not saturated with ads yet and click quite a lot.

See some numbers from some of our campaigns of one of our clients below. Of course we still spend significantly more on Facebook for them but this is about to change very quickly if those numbers continue to be the same and reach is big enough which we still try to explore.

TikTik vs Facebook Ads - CPM, CPI

You will easily recognize the difference between the main channel everybody is on and a channel that is relatively new. You buy into new audiences for extremely cheap and our data shows that the conversion rates post install are absolutely on par with any other digital user acquisition channel that we manage. So there is no reason why not to scale hard on that channel as long as the inventory is cheap.

If you are interested to start running UA on TikTok just get in touch. We are experts in rapid scaling environments and have helped many apps with super fast growth & experiments. If you want to get more information from past clients, just have a look at our Clutch profile or reach out to some of our clients. We are happy to make you an intro.


Andre Kempe, Founder of Admiral Media


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