TikTok Ads

Ultimate Guide To Getting Started With TikTok Ads For Ecommerce

Carlos Velazquez
By Carlos Velazquez
By Carlos Velazquez,
Nov 8, 2022

TikTok. The platform that started as a small video sharing platform is now one of the largest social media platforms. The app has seen massive growth worldwide in just a few years, generating an estimated $4.16 billion in revenue in 2021, representing a 142% increase year-on-year. In terms of audience growth, the app has been downloaded over 3 billion times and has over 1 billion active users. Nowadays, TikTok is the third-largest of the Big Five worldwide social networks (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, and Twitter). 

Given this massive growth in a short period, companies worldwide have flocked to the app to promote their products and increase their sales, and it’s paid off. From Sephora to Duolingo, companies that have been able to leverage the app’s advertising features and become early adopters have seen positive returns.

Why you should be using TikTok Paid Ads

Regardless of your industry, TikTok is an app you should consider adding to your paid media toolbelt for the following reasons.

It’s the most downloaded app on Apple

Since 2019, TikTok has consistently ranked as the most downloaded app on Apple, with over 2 billion downloads. Furthermore, the app has not only ranked #1 in developed markets such as the United States but also in emerging markets such as Brazil. This means advertisers can target a truly global, fast-growing audience.

TikTok’s usage is on an upward trend

The app has consistently increased its active users year-on-year. Furthermore, users are highly engaged, spending an astounding 95 minutes daily on the platform. For comparison, people spend an average of 25 minutes daily on Instagram and 19 minutes on Youtube. This is an excellent opportunity for advertisers to reach a group of highly-engaged consumers.

TikTok thrives on authentic and unpolished videos

TikTok is an app built around authenticity, meaning there is no need to break the bank with highly-curated, expensive video content. Furthermore, users are looking to connect with brands on a human level, allowing companies to develop deeper connections with key demographics and take a storytelling approach to advertising.

The Benefits Of Using TikTok Paid Ads In Your Marketing Strategy

Many smaller ecommerce companies are hesitant to begin advertising on TikTok, given its emphasis on video content and it being a newer app. However, there are several benefits to leveraging this platform, including the following.

TikTok’s diverse demographics

TikTok is considered an ideal app to target Gen-Z. Because of this, many brands focused on older audiences don’t advertise on this platform for fear it won’t reach its key demographics. However, the older generations have consistently increased their presence on the app since the pandemic. Nowadays, almost half of the audience on TikTok is over 30. These more mature segments are also some of the fastest-growing demographics on the app, meaning there is a segment of potential buyers for almost all industries.

It’s not a saturated platform... yet

TikTok's paid media landscape is less saturated than other, more established social media platforms. Most brands still focus on traditional social media channels, such as Instagram and Twitter, creating a massive gap in the app between its user base and brands. For ecommerce businesses, in particular, this means that early adopters will enter a marketplace with less competition.

Audiences are generally more engaged

Video content generally outperforms other formats across different platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram. TikTok is a video-based app, making it ideal to take advantage of this trend. Furthermore, users are generally more engaged on TikTok than on other platforms, thus increasing the likelihood that your target audience will watch your entire video and remember its message. Lastly, because the app is based on unpolished, authentic content, brands can generally decrease their production costs and push out content quicker, thus staying relevant and top-of-mind.

How to Set Up a TikTok Ad Account

Similarly to Facebook, to begin creating ads on TikTok, you’ll first need to set up a TikTok Ad Account. While this might seem daunting, setting up your account is relatively simple.

Step 1: Start by creating an account on TikTok Ads Manager.

Before signing up to TikTok Ads Manager, make sure you have a business TikTok account set up. If you don’t, simply go to Settings and Privacy > Manage Account > Switch to Business Account.

TikTok Account Settings

Once this is completed, visit TikTok Ads Manager on your desktop and sign in using your business TikTok account.

TikTok for business account

Once you finalize registering, your brand will need to be reviewed by TikTok. Once approved, you’ll have to log into your dashboard and complete the registration, but before you can start running campaigns, there’s a crucial step you’ll need to complete!

Step 2: Make sure to set up and install your TikTok Pixel

This is a crucial step to set up your account as the pixel will allow TikTok to gather information about your website’s site events and track your ads’ performance. 

For Shopify Stores, specifically, the pixel creation process is fairly simple, and can be done directly on Shopify by installing the TikTok app to your site.

TikTok Apps on Shopify App Store

For other types of websites, such as WooCommerce and Wordpress, we’d recommend setting up the pixel by following the instructions in this guide. 

Finally, we’d recommend testing the pixel through the TikTok pixel helper to ensure it’s set up properly and the events are firing as intended. 

Once your pixel is set up and tested, you’ll be ready to begin creating your first TikTok Ad!

Step-by-step guide on setting up your first TikTok ad 

TikTok follows a similar structure to Facebook Ads because it operates on three levels. At the highest level is the campaign level, followed by the ad group, and finally, the ads themselves.  

Campaign Level 

The campaign level is the highest level for TikTok Ads. At this stage, you’ll select your overall objective and set up your budget.

TikTok Ads Manager Campaign Level screenshot

1. Under the campaign tab, click on the Create button. 

2. You’ll then be asked to choose an objective for your campaign. Ensure the selected objective aligns with your desired result, as the algorithm will optimize the campaign for the selected goal. 

3. Next, you’ll be asked to give your campaign a name. Make sure to utilize a naming convention that’s easy to understand and differentiated from other future campaigns.

4. Finally, you’ll be asked to set your budget. There are two options available, daily budget and lifetime budget. A daily budget will spend a determined amount each day, whereas a lifetime budget will quickly spend the entirety of its budget.

Ad Group Level 

Once the campaign level is completed, you’ll need to set up the ad group level. At this stage, you’ll select the placements where your ads will be shown, your target audience, and the delivery type.

TikTok Ads Manager Ad Group Level screenshot

1. Choose the promotional type or goal. 

2. Select the placements you’d like to show your ads. For starter TikTok Advertisers, we’d recommend selecting Automatic Placements, which will allow the algorithm to determine your ads’ placements based on the likelihood of achieving their desired objective. 

3. You’ll then have to define your target audience. TikTok has several options for targeting, including gender, specific geographic locations, and age. TikTok also has an interest feature, where you can select audiences based on specific interests relevant to your business. 

4. Finally, you’ll need to select a delivery type. The platform has two delivery options, standard and accelerated delivery. Standard delivery will spread your budget across high-traffic times based on TikTok’s algorithm and your audience. On the other hand, accelerated delivery will focus your budget on getting the most views in a short time.

Ad Level 

Once the ad group has been set up, we’re ready to begin our TikTok Ads!

TikTok Ads Manager screen shot of ad level

1. You can choose between a single image or a video when selecting your creative. Once submitted, preview it to ensure the specs are correct and the photo or video doesn’t look blurry or cropped. While the type of creative will depend on your brand, there are a few best practices you should follow, including: 

  • Aspect ratio: Vertical (9:16), Square (1:1), Horizontal (16:9)
  • Video duration: 5 to 60 second videos (TikTok recommends short videos of 9-16 seconds)
  • Static Images: The ad creative should not include a static image as the main element of the video. 
  • If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out TikTok’s High-Performance Ad Library. 

2. You’ll then be able to include ad text. TikTok allows for 12-100 characters in this section, so write something concise that highlights your brand’s voice and messaging. 

3. Finally, you’ll need to select a CTA. Make sure the CTA reflects the creative and ad text messaging and your overall campaign objective. For example, if you’re looking for people to book an appointment with you, select the CTA “Book Now.”

How to Measure TikTok Results 

Once you've activated your first campaign, you're ready to dive into the world of TikTok Ads. Like any other online advertising strategy, it's crucial to define and keep track of KPIs that will determine the success of your business. The KPIs you choose will depend on your business goals, but we'd suggest considering these 11 essential metrics all ecommerce merchants should track as a good starting point.

Screen shot of TikTok ad results

TikTok does have native analytics within its dashboard where you'll be able to track campaign performance based on your TikTok's attribution model and pixel. Once you've run ads for a bit, consider a third-party, omnichannel attribution software. At Shoelace, we use Whatagraph, a reporting tool with integrations to 40+ native integrations, including TikTok Ads.

Marketing report screen shot

Lastly, it's important to remember that your results don't exist in a silo, and it's essential to compare them to competitors in your industry to determine the success of your campaigns. At Shoelace, we leverage Varos, a benchmarking tool that will allow you to compare your data with other brands in your industry.  


The paid media and online advertising world is evolving at a staggering pace. As new platforms appear and take on established players, brands that can quickly implement strategies for these new channels will stand out from their competitors and connect with their key demographics in new and innovative ways. With the information provided in this blog, you're now ready to dive into the world of TikTok Ads! 

If you're still unsure about how to set up your TikTok Ads account or implement an initial strategy geared towards growth, our knowledgeable Growth Partners are happy to answer any questions! Connect with us here to learn more about how we can help.

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