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TikTok is a platform created by the Chinese software house ByteDance and launched in 2015. In 2018, it was integrated with the features of the project in consequence of an acquisition. What resulted was a social network with a business model similar to that of Instagram, but focused on sharing short videos whose maximum duration was recently extended to 10 minutes, from the previous limit of 180 seconds. Also known as Douyin in China, it is used especially by users of the so-called Generation Z and therefore by people between the ages of 16-24 years old. Such feature has made the service a creativity and artistic expression-oriented environment where subscribers can publish content in which they dance, sing in playback, dub films and TV series dialogues or challenge each other in entertaining videos in which sounds, texts, movements based on more or less improvised choreographies, can be combined. The innovative element represented by TikTok (accompanied by the need of the youth to carve out an alternative space within social networks, such as Facebook, in which the average age has become increasingly higher over the years) has determined its success, so much so that during 2020 the application in its versions for iOS and Android largely exceeded 2 billion downloads from the App Store and the Google Play Store. To date, TikTok has over 1 billion subscribers, without considering Chinese users who should be close to half a billion units. This app has been localized in more than 150 countries and translated into almost 80 languages. Just as in the case of Instagram, even TikTokers can become influencers, collect followers, dictate trends and act as a bridge between their community and brands. In the same way, the platform has become a fundamental channel for the Digital Marketing strategies of companies wishing to approach a target composed mainly of very young people. For this reason, this social media provides TikTok Ads Manager, an interface designed in the context of the TikTok For Business project that allows companies of all sizes to present their business through advertisements.

What formats are available

One of the advantages offered by TikTok Ad Manager concerns the supply of particularly wide content. This results in a large number of formats based on both images and videos. Let's find out what these are.

Image-based ads

TikTok supports images in JPG or PNG format. Resolution should be higher than or equal to 1200x600px, and size less than or equal to 500 KB. Ads may include an image which you can add a description to, between 12 and 100 characters (including punctuation and spaces) and a brand or the name of an App. We strongly recommend to position the creative elements centrally, in order to ensure they are not cut during the rendering phase or covered by descriptions or logos.

Video-based ads

.mp4, .mov, .mpeg, .3gp, .avi with bitrate greater than or equal to 516 kbps and size less than or equal to 500 MB formats are supported. In the case of positioning in the News Feed, content in .gif format can also be used. It is possible to associate a profile image no larger than 50 KB with a .jpg or .png extension and an aspect ratio of 1: 1. Each ad may contain, along with video, an image, a brand or the name of an App, and a description of up to 100 characters.

Spark Ads

Spark Ads are a native format of TikTok designed to take advantage of the platform's organic content to enhance the advertising impact. The definition "organic content" refers to all those publications that are not made for advertising purposes. You can run these kinds of ads by using your TikTok account or through other creators' organic content with their prior authorization. Unlike what happens with other formats, Spark Ads are based on posts produced by real accounts, this means that all shares, comments, likes and follow-up generated by the promotion will be attributed to the organic content chosen for the campaign. Spark Ads have no particular limitations from the point of view of the usable creativities, and there are no restrictions regarding the possibility of reusing the same organic content in your advertising.

Playable Ads

Playable Ads are not yet available in the Italian localization of TikTok, but they are noteworthy given their features. It is an interactive video format that allows you to show the preview of an application before committing to downloading. The strength of Playable Ads lies in the fact that when they are viewed in full screen mode, they offer a gaming experience very similar to that of the downloaded game itself. Created to maximize performance in the case of campaigns dedicated to casual games, manga, interactive novels and music players, Playable Ads have proved to be more effective than non-playable ads, both from the point of view of CTR (Click-Through Rate) and CVR (Conversion Rate).

Carousel Ads

Carousel Ads allow you to share multiple images with a caption with a length between 12 and 40 characters in a single ad. It is a format that can be used for brand storytelling, where each frame depicts part of a story, for the creation of virtual catalogs, linking each product image to a specific landing page, or to describe product or service details. All images are shown from left to right through a slideshow whose sequence is defined by the advertiser. It is possible to associate a single URL to all images or a specific URL to each image and both horizontal and square images are supported. The minimum number of images for a Carousel Ad is 2, up to 10 JPG or PNG images for a single ad.

Collection Ads

Currently still in an experimental phase, Collection Ads allow users to discover and view content dedicated to a product through a full screen user experience on a mobile device. When users touch an interactive element within an ad, they are led to an Instant Gallery Page where the information of the advertised product is shown. This is a format dedicated to e-commerce thanks to which consumers can see the features of the content reported on catalog, and possibly proceed with the purchase on the advertiser's website.

TikTok Ads manager targeting criteria

Advertising targeting aims to maximize the performance of advertising campaigns, optimize performance and reduce costs. Groups of users with similar characteristics plausibly have different consumption needs, habits and purchasing propensities than others. For this reason, it is necessary to have tools with which to select the target audience. TikTok has several targeting criteria that can be represented in 4 different categories:
  1. Audience: in order to include or exclude those users in your targeting who have characteristics similar to or different from those that could define the consumer more oriented to the purchase of the proposed product;
  2. Demographics: this category includes criteria relating to age, gender, locality and spoken language.
  3. Interests and behaviors.
  4. Devices: including data relating to the type of connection used, the operating system and its version, the manufacturer, the model and the cost of the device.
These criteria can also be combined to achieve a level of targeting as accurate as possible.


Unlike platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, TikTok is a social network visited in particular by users belonging to Gen Z. It is also a platform strongly focused on video content, distancing itself from the model imposed by Instagram which only recently moved part of its focus from the publication of images to videos. The success of an advertising campaign designed for TikTok cannot ignore these features, and the many formats available for advertising must be exploited taking into account a young target that also expects advertisers to propose content strongly oriented towards immediacy and creativity.
Article updated on: 09 August 2023
Talent Garden
Written by
Talent Garden, Digital Skills Academy

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