TikTok ad formats explained

How brands can use the different ad options on TikTok

TikTok is the sixth most popular app globally, based on the number of monthly active users. For brands looking to widen their reach and connect with Gen Z, TikTok is an exciting opportunity.


Advertisers on TikTok can take the influencer marketing route, or take advantage of the platform’s targeted ad solutions. Similar to Facebook and Instagram ads, ‘custom’ and and ‘lookalike’ audiences can be created and you can target by gender, location, age, interests, etc. This makes them an effective tool for reaching specific customer segments.

When it comes to TikTok ads, there are five different options, giving brands of every size a solution that can be tailored to their needs. Here’s the TikTok ad formats explained.

In Feed ads


In-Feed Ads are up to 60 second video ads that appear in between user videos as you scroll through the ‘For You’ page. At first glance they appear as organic user generated content. These ads only have a couple of seconds to capture your audience’s attention before they continue to scroll, so these need to be instantly engaging.

You can include multiple call-to-actions so brands can encourage users to shop, download your app, or visit your website straight from TikTok.

Brand Takeover Ads


Brand Takeover Ads appear full screen upon opening the app. Not only can they be targeted, and include a link to direct potential customers, they’re instantly engaging and can’t be missed, so are great for brands seeking mass awareness.

However advertisers should expect to pay premium prices for this spot. Especially since TikTok will only show one Brand Takeover Ad to a user each day.

Check out this case study example from Two Faced.

TopView Ads


The easiest way to think about TopView ads is as a slightly delayed Brand Takeover Ad! While Branded Takeover Ads appear as soon as a user opens the app, TopView Ads are the first in-feed post after 3 seconds.

Just like Brand Takeovers, they take up the full screen and can feature up 60-seconds of video with auto-play and sound – and include a custom link.

Branded Effects Ads


Brands can create tailor-made sharable stickers, filters, and special effects on TikTok. A bit like Snapchat’s branded lenses. Language barrier free and inherently visual, this option has some obvious benefits.

These can catch on organically or brands can then encourage followers to create content using a custom filter in exchange for a shout-out or a prize.

Branded Hashtag Challenge


While any brand can create a Branded Hashtag Challenge on TikTok, there’s no guarantee it’s going to catch on. To get their Hashtag Challenge trending, a brand could partner with popular TikTok creators, in the hope their followers jump on the challenge. Or they could take a shortcut and pay to have it to show up on TikTok’s Discover banner. 

Branded Hashtag Challenges help advertisers achieve reach on the channel, but it can also help drive conversions. When a user clicks on a sponsored hashtag, they’re taken to a landing page on TikTok with the brand’s logo, link to their website, a description of the challenge, and the top videos using that hashtag.

Check out this example from Clean & Clear.

Download the free Vamp guide and learn how your brand can succeed on the original influencer marketing platform, Instagram.

Download this free Vamp guide and learn how to succeed on the world’s most viral platform.