Tiktok Video Ad Specs and Best Practices for 2020

TikTok is one of the world’s most downloaded social media apps for short-form videos. Its global downloads have crossed 1.6 million. In Q1 of 2019, TikTok beat YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram in terms of downloads on iPhone to become the most downloaded app

Image via Sensor Tower

TikTok attracts a huge target audience (Gen Z and young millennials) and offers engaging, snackable content. 500 million people actively use the app globally. As of now, the app is available in 141 of 155 countries, which means a broad reach and penetration for brands.

Should you advertise on TikTok? If your target audience is aged 16-24 years (41% of TikTok audience base), TikTok is tailor-made for you. 

Teens and tweens who love to create and share videos and interact with a global community flock to the platform. These users spend 52 minutes daily on the app and generate more than $3 million in revenue via the app. So, TikTok marketing can make big bucks for your business. In this post, we cover TikTok advertising best practices so that your ads qualify for benchmarks set by the platform. Then, we will discuss TikTok-prescribed specs for audio and video ads.


TikTok Video Advertising Best Practices 

In 2019, TikTok introduced several advertising options for targeting specific user groups. Brands can leverage ads to get better returns from marketing on TikTok. 

Here are some best practices marketers and content creators on TikTok need to follow:

1. Prioritise Vertical Videos 

To give your ads a native-video like look and feel, all video assets should fit the recommended ad specs (covered later in this post). 

If they don’t, TikTok is most likely not going to accept your ads. And, even if they do, the ads won’t create as much impact. They can look skewed or might get cut off at margins.

2. Limit the Video Length

The best way to ensure that your video ad content is not trimmed, keep the video length between 9 and 15 seconds.

3. Start with an Impactful Visual

Understand that internet users are more than happy to swipe and scroll to the next post if they don’t find the content in front of them interesting. 

How can you get them to stay and watch your video?

To hook viewers to your advertisement, start with an attention-grabbing visual.

3. Centre all Important Elements

TikTok typically obscures the outer margins of frames. So it’s best to keep all the important elements of your advertisement centred. This should include your CTA (call-to-action) and brand name.

4. Add Background Music

TikTok requires audio settings to be turned on. It’s advisable to add background music clips and tracks to your advertisements, instead of subtitles. 

5. Don’t Forget the Captions

Click-happy social media users may abandon an advertisement before it ends. You can write concise and informational captions so that viewers get the gist of your video, even if they don’t watch all of it. TikTok advises using the local language to write captions.

6. Include a Compelling Call-to-Action

There is no point in investing in advertisements if they don’t lead to any tangible returns. Include a strong CTA in the form of a native button to prompt viewers to perform an action. 


Tiktok Video Ad Specs for 2020:

TikTok ads can cost a lot. If you want your ads to work, you need to optimise them for the platform and audience. TikTok prescribes ad specs according to where the ad will be placed. Ad composition, aspect ratio, image resolution, file type, and ad duration are different for different ad placements. 

The different ad placement options in TikTok are:

  • In-feed
  • News Feed series
  • Vigo and Helo apps’ in-feed 

Ad Specs for In-Feed Ads

In-feed ads, as the name suggests, appear in a user’s in-app feed. These ads have the following components:

  1. Video
  2. Ad display image
  3. Brand/app name
  4. Ad description

This is what an in-feed ad looks like on an Android mobile:

Image via TikTok

Specs for the ad video

  • The recommended aspect ratio is 9:16, 1:1, or 16:9. 
  • Resolution options include 720 x 1280 px,  640 x 640 px, and 1280 x 720 px. 
  • You can use MP4, MPEG, MOV, or AVI files in your ads. 
  • Video duration should be between 5 and 16 seconds. 
  • The video file size should be less than 500 MB. 

Specs for the ad display image

  • The prescribed aspect ratio is 1:1.
  • File size is less than 50 KB.
  • File type should be PNG, JPEG, or JPG.

Specs for brand/app names

  • TikTok allows 2-20 English characters for displaying the brand name on ads. 
  • Emojis should not be included. 
  • Punctuation marks and spaces are also counted as characters. 
  • App names should have 4-40 English characters. 
  • The name character limit varies with language, operating system, and device model.

Specs for ad description

  • The character limit for ad description in English is 12-100. 
  • While longer descriptions are allowed, they run the risk of getting cut off at the end.
  • Emojis, curly braces, and hash symbols are allowed. 
  • Punctuation and spaces will be counted as characters too.

Ad Specs for News Feed Series

TikTok has certain news feed app series such as Buzz, BuzzVideo, and NewsRepublic. Ads that appear in these series have specs different from in-feed ads. 

These video ads have the following constituents:

  1. Video
  2. Brand/app name
  3. Ad description

This is what a news feed video ad looks like:

Image via TikTok

Specs for the ad video: 

  • The recommended aspect ratio is 16:9 or 1:1. 
  • File types are the same as in-feed ads. 
  • No restriction on video resolution though it’s best to keep it above 720x1280 px. 
  • You can use short-form videos of any duration, but keep it in the 5-60 seconds range. 
  • The file size should be less than 500 MB.

The specs for the brand/app name and ad description are the same as for in-feed ads.


Ad Specs for Vigo and Helo In-Feed

TikTok has a unique offering for its advertisers. It allows brands to reach local audiences by placing their ads in indigenous apps and social platforms, such as Helo and Vigo. For instance, Helo is a social media platform owned by ByteDance which also owns TikTok. Helo focuses on Indian consumers and is available in many vernacular languages. 

Is this ad type right for you? It has gained quite a following not only in India, but also among Indian diaspora in USA, China, and Nepal. TikTok lets you create ads to reach the in-feed of Helo’s subscribers. This is a superb way of reaching this particular demographic.

These video ads must have the following parts:

  1. Video
  2. Brand/app name
  3. Ad description

Specs for the ad video

  • The video aspect ratio should be 9:16, 1:1, or 16:9. 
  • Ad files for Vigo ads can be MP4, MOV, MPEG, or AVI
  • Helo ads can be MP4, MOV, MPEG, AVI, or GIF. 
  • A resolution of 720 x 1280px, 640 x 640px, or 1280 x 720px is suggested by the platform. 
  • The recommended file duration and size are the same as for the news feed ads.

The specs for the brand/app name and ad description are the same as for in-feed ads.


Do You Have the Budget for TikTok Video Ads?

Since TikTok opened up a formal ads program in Feb 2019, big names like Disney and Nike didn’t waste time in tapping on the new opportunity. They enjoyed a monopoly as the platform wasn’t inundated with ads, unlike Facebook and Instagram. 

But is advertising on TikTok a worthwhile investment for smaller brands? The answer to this question lies in your audience demographics. As stated before, TikTok is a channel most preferred by those below 18 years of age. Though there’s a good chance that viewership might continue well into adulthood, it’s not a guarantee. 

What’s that mean for you? If your brand targets older people, marketing on TikTok might not give immediate returns. Earlier, TikTok was a female-dominated platform. Content creators and consumers were mostly females. But starting in March 2018, there’s been a shift in patterns. Males have become more active, especially those in the teen and tween categories. But, by and large, both genders are actively involved in TikTok.

Image via App Ape Lab

How much does a TikTok ad cost? As compared to its counterparts, TikTok is charging a premium for ads. The ad cost starts at $10 per CPM (cost per mille or 1000 impressions). You’ll have to pay $500 upfront before launching an ad campaign.

What’s more?

  • A brand takeover, which guarantees five million impressions, costs $50,000 per day. 
  • An in-feed ad costs $10 per impression and requires advertisers to pay for 600 impressions in advance. 
  • A sponsored hashtag challenge costs $150,000 per week.

Image via Voluum


Wrapping up

TikTok has become a veritable marketing platform for marketers and influencers. You need to optimise your video ads if you want to appeal to the platform’s audience. If you follow the specifications above, your ad will qualify TikTok’s stringent standards and get the desired engagement.

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