Best Practices for TikTok Ads: 17 Mistakes to Correct

Let’s just address the elephant in the room first: at this moment, we don’t know if TikTok has a long-term future in the U.S. given pending regulation. But even assuming a worst-case scenario for advertisers, there will be a series of appeals that will keep the advertising platform active for a while.

In that spirit, it’s time to correct some common mistakes we see in TikTok campaigns.


Jordan Digital Marketing's B2b Guide to TikTok Ads


In this post, I’ll lay out both strategic and tactical errors, from expectations to campaign set-up to bidding to creative, with some recommendations for how to set your campaigns on a better path.

Let’s get started!

Misaligned expectations for TikTok ads

  1. TikTok is great for building awareness and engagement – but not so good for closing deals. B2B brands looking to go directly to lower-funnel activities like booking demos are probably wasting spend.

  2. For eCommerce, TikTok is definitely better suited for selling less expensive products than bigger purchases that require more consideration. Advertisers convinced they’re going to sell big sets of furniture, for instance, would be better off pushing $50 bean bags.

  3. Advertisers expecting granular targeting that hones in on a brand’s ideal customer profile might also need a reality check. TikTok targeting isn’t nearly as nuanced as social competitors like Meta or LinkedIn, so advertisers need to study audience options with a critical eye before setting any lofty TikTok goals.

TikTok campaign structure mistakes

  1. We often come across a lack of clear naming conventions to indicate differentiation between campaigns (audience, placement, geo, etc.). This makes clear analysis and optimizations tough, so make sure you have a better system of naming in place before you launch anything new.

  2. Many brands set up too many campaigns/ad groups for creative testing; a better approach is to test new assets in existing campaigns/ad groups that already have some momentum and learning built up.

  3. If you’re setting budgets at the ad group level, I recommend pivoting to campaign-level budgeting, which enables you to apply campaign budget optimization to allow the algorithm to allocate budget based on predicted performance. (Note: don’t use this for Retargeting or other instances where ad groups have a specific budget.)

TikTok ads bidding mistakes

  1. Don’t try to optimize a KPI by using the wrong campaign objective. For instance, if sales or leads are the goal, use conversion objectives. If site visits or ad views are the goal, utilize awareness/consideration objectives.

  2. Don’t set cost caps right away; at the outset, use maximum delivery until you’ve gathered enough data to set a reasonable cost cap that won’t curtail volume.

TikTok ads creative mistakes

  1. Don’t skimp on creative testing. TikTok is a very fast-paced platform (even more than Facebook and Instagram), so creatives tend to fatigue a lot faster. I recommend rotating new creatives at least once a month if not every 1-2 weeks.

  2. Don’t get too slick or professional. Instead, lean into under-produced, UGC content with a more authentic feel that TikTok users crave.

  3. Stay away from promotional tones and go more casual – pretend you’re speaking directly to your users.

  4. Don’t assume what works today will work next month; stay on top of trends to improve user engagement.

  5. Never expect users to watch your entire video. Make sure you’re front-loading your value props and branding within the first 3-5 seconds so users see it before they drop off.

  6. Don’t over-invest in clever copy. You can have the best copy in the world, but without great creative, it won’t matter. On TikTok, copy is far less important than visuals.

TikTok ads audience and targeting mistakes

  1. Don’t be rigid. Your ICP might be clearly defined, but you can still find great growth pockets by testing interests that aren’t directly related. We often see strong engagement when we find other interests that the target ICP generally tended to be interested in – for instance, if you’re selling yoga gear, you might also target people interested in wellness supplements.

  2. Don’t rely on boomers. TikTok skews younger, specifically towards GenZ and Millennials. If your ICP skews older, you should make sure you’re fully optimizing other platforms before investing in TikTok.

  3. Don’t stay in-house for your content. Does your brand have a good influencer program or people who are willing to create UGC content? TikTok is all about real people making content, so you won’t get much traction from creative testing if you’re making it all yourself.

The good news: all of these mistakes are correctable. In the right hands, TikTok is (at least for now) still a great option for building engagement with the right audience. We’re always happy to chat about best practices if you’re interested, so let us know if you’d like to start a conversation!


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