How to create your TikTok ads creative strategy: Best practices for DTC brands

TikTok offers more than just a social platform for Gen Z to dance and lip-sync. It provides a sound-on entertainment experience that promotes sharing, learning, and discovery. TikTok has made a significant impact on culture and has become a formidable competitor to social, search, and streaming platforms like Meta, Google, Netflix, and HBO Max. Despite being popular among Gen Z, over half of its users are over 30 years old, proving that it's not just a platform for younger generations. TikTok has revolutionized the way we consume content, engage with brands, and even advertise.

Not following proper ad practices while creating TikTok ads can lead to your brand getting lost in the crowd, especially since the platform is already saturated with advertisements. Continue reading the article to get an in-depth overview of how to get started with your TikTok ads strategy.

Why TikTok is the best ad channel for DTC brands

As DTC brands have complete control over their brand experience, they also have the freedom to tailor their messaging, marketing, and product offerings to meet the specific needs and desires of their target audience. This also allows for greater flexibility in pricing and promotions, as well as gathering valuable data and insights on customer behavior and preferences, which can be used in future marketing activities.

Given these traits of DTC brands, TikTok is an ideal platform to reach target audiences and communicate brand messaging. TikTok's unique algorithm and vast user base offer DTC brands a highly engaged audience that is receptive to new products and ideas. With a younger demographic that values authenticity, creativity, and uniqueness, TikTok is the perfect platform for DTC brands to showcase their products and brand messaging in an innovative and engaging way.

TikTok's sophisticated targeting options also allow DTC brands to reach specific audiences based on demographics, interests, and behaviors, ensuring that their ads are seen by the right people. And with the platform's immersive and interactive ad formats, such as in-feed videos and branded hashtag challenges, DTC brands can create compelling and memorable experiences that drive engagement and conversions. Read more about how to go viral on TikTok, insights provided by SugarGang's DTC founder Adrian Balbegi. 

Crafting Your TikTok Advertising Strategy

1. How to set your campaign goals and KPIs for TikTok ads

Setting clear campaign goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) is essential for developing a successful TikTok advertising strategy. Knowing precisely what to expect from a TikTok campaign and measuring your results accordingly is the first step that will determine your budgets, ad formats, and creative strategy. Consider deciding on clear objectives, KPIs, target audience, goals, and budgets before anything else. Make sure you measure and track correctly. Here’s how:

Define your campaign objectives: Start by identifying what you hope to achieve with your TikTok advertising campaign. Are you looking to drive sales, increase brand awareness, or promote a new product or service? Your campaign objectives should align with your overall marketing goals and business objectives. TikTok Ads Manager allows you to choose from these three categories of objectives: Awareness, Consideration, and Conversion.

Set specific and measurable KPIs: Once you've defined your campaign objectives, identify specific and measurable KPIs that will help you track your progress and measure success. For example, if your goal is to drive sales, your KPIs might include conversion rate, click-through rate, and return on ad spend (ROAS).

Determine your target audience: Understanding your target audience is crucial for setting campaign goals and KPIs that will resonate with your audience. Use TikTok's audience insights and targeting options to identify key demographics, interests, and behaviors that are most relevant to your brand.

Ask yourself where the target audience is on the customer journey. Are they familiar with your brand? If not, you might want to extend your Reach. If they have already heard about your brand and want to learn more, you can drive Traffic or Video Views. Once they already considered your brand and are now thinking about making a purchase, choose the Conversion goal.

Campaign budget: by setting your budget through the TikTok Ads Manager, you can gain better control over your ad delivery, measure the performance of your ads, and allocate your marketing spend more effectively.
TikTok offers three options for setting your campaign budget:

Daily Budget: This is the maximum amount you're willing to spend on your campaign per day. It must be at least $50.

Lifetime Budget: This is the maximum amount you're willing to spend on your campaign for its entire duration. The amount must be greater than $50 multiplied by the number of delivery days.

No Limit: If you're willing to experiment or prefer to set a separate budget for each ad group rather than the entire campaign, you can choose the "No Limit" option for your campaign budget. This allows the system more flexibility to test and optimize your ad delivery.

Track and optimize your performance: Once your campaign is live, track your performance against your KPIs and adjust your strategy as needed. Use the Admetrics Data Studio to monitor your campaigns’ performance and identify areas for improvement. In the Performance Dashboard, you will be able to report on video metrics like Thumbstop rate or video views. This will help you track the impact of your TikTok ads and gain insights into the effectiveness of each video in engaging audiences as they scroll through their feeds.

2. How to create a TikTok content strategy

Creating a content strategy that aligns with your brand voice and values is crucial for developing a successful TikTok advertising campaign. There are several key elements to consider, such as testing creatives and formatting options, ensuring that your content aligns with your brand voice and values, staying up-to-date on trends, engaging with your audience, and finding the right ad format.

Based on the Admetrics team's daily experience interacting with advertising e-commerce brands on TikTok and thorough analysis of TikTok campaign results, here are some of the most important tips for creating a stealth TikTok content strategy.

- Start by defining your brand's unique voice and values. Your brand voice should reflect your personality, tone, and messaging, while your brand values should align with your overall mission and purpose. For example, if your brand belongs to the sustainable category, aim to emphasize the benefits and overall differentiators from other commercial products. Remember, TikTok is a highly visual platform that rewards creativity and authenticity.

- Research your audience: Use TikTok's audience insights to understand your target audience's interests, behaviors, and preferences. This will help you create content that resonates with your audience and encourages engagement. Using post-purchase surveys and customer reviews to brainstorm concepts is also a great way to gain insights into what resonates with your target audience.

- Engaging with your audience is key to building a strong TikTok presence. Replying to comments on your videos with additional TikTok video replies can increase engagement and create a more personalized experience for your audience.

- Leverage TikTok trends and challenges: Create content that aligns with your brand values while also being fun, engaging, and shareable. Consider the types of content that perform well on TikTok, such as new sounds, news, dances, and viral content elements.

- User-generated content (UGC) can be a powerful way to engage with your audience and showcase your brand's personality. Encourage your followers to create and share content that aligns with your brand voice and values and feature UGC in your TikTok advertising campaigns. Remember that incentivizing user-generated content performance can motivate creators to produce high-quality content.

- Experiment with different formats: TikTok offers a range of content formats, including music videos, duets, and lip-syncs. Create a variety of concepts based on your existing audience and batch-produce these concepts to save time and increase efficiency.

- Testing every angle possible is crucial to finding what works best for your brand. When videos start to gain traction, it's important to avoid reposting them verbatim. Instead, consider remaking the content until it can no longer be improved. Having different creators post and manage your TikTok page can also provide unique perspectives and fresh ideas.

- Determine the right ad format for your TikTok campaigns and choose from in-feed ads, branded effects, and top-view ads. When choosing the right ad format for your campaign, consider your campaign goals, target audience, and budget. In-feed ads are a popular option for DTC brands looking to drive traffic to their website, while branded effects can be a fun way to promote brand awareness and engagement.

3. Best Practices for TikTok Ads Creatives: How to create thumb-stopping visuals

Creating thumb-stopping visuals is crucial for grabbing your audience's attention and driving engagement on TikTok. Here are some tips for creating eye-catching visuals:

Use bold colors: Bright, bold colors are attention-grabbing and can help your content stand out in a crowded TikTok feed. Consider using contrasting colors to create a dynamic and visually interesting composition.

Incorporate movement: TikTok is a platform that celebrates movement and creativity. Incorporating movement into your visuals can help your content stand out and keep your audience engaged. Consider using animations, gifs, or videos to create dynamic content.

Use text overlays that help communicate your message and add an additional layer of visual interest to your content. Use bold fonts and contrasting colors to make your text pop.

Incorporating sound and music into your ads can help enhance the user experience and create a stronger emotional connection with your audience. Consider using popular songs or sound bites that align with your brand's messaging and tone.

Keep it simple: In a fast-paced environment like TikTok, it's important to keep your visuals simple and easy to understand. Avoid cluttered compositions or complex visuals that may be difficult to decipher on a small screen.

Experiment with different formats: TikTok offers a range of content formats, including in-feed videos, stories, and branded hashtag challenges. Experiment with different formats to see what resonates with your audience and creates the most engagement.

Also, your ad copy should be tailored to your target audience and resonate with their interests and behaviors. Keep your copy short and snappy, using attention-grabbing headlines and concise messaging to communicate your brand's value proposition. Here is an example of how to use ChatGPT to write video ad scripts for TikTok.

4. TikTok's ad formats and placements + Examples

71% of users agree that TikTok is where the biggest trends start. Brands understanding and embracing these trends can capitalize on a huge virality potential coupled with an immersive new universe of product placement offerings. Part of defining your marketing strategy is having an in-depth comprehension of the versatile TikTok ad formats and making sure your creatives fit the requirements.

how to create TikTok creative ads strategy

In-Feed Video Ad

TikTok's In-Feed ad format is a standard ad format that allows brands to embed a video ad that auto-plays within a user's feed. These ads are up to 60 seconds long, but the optimal duration is 15 seconds. They play with the sound on and have the same user interface as organic posts, making them feel like native content.

In-Feed ads can be purchased directly through TikTok's Ad Manager and can be used for a variety of campaign objectives. Each ad features a clickable CTA button that can drive traffic toward external landing pages or your brand's TikTok Business Account.

One famous example that made it into a TikTok case study is the WetnWild campaign, with extraordinary results such as 1.5 M hashtag creations and a 9.6% lift in brand awareness, basically, everything a beauty brand would expect from a TikTok ad campaign.


TopView ads occupy prime ad real estate on TikTok by appearing at the top of the For You feed when the app is opened. These ads capture user attention and offer an immersive viewing experience with no other competing content. The video in this format can be up to 60 seconds long, making it perfect for brand awareness objectives.
Brands should use a highly engaging video that leaves a lasting impact to make the most of this unmissable placement, just like the Balenciaga campaign that made it to 23+ M impressions and a stunning CTR of 18%.

Brand Takeover

Brand Takeover ads are full-screen, high-impact ads that appear as the first thing a user sees when opening TikTok. They are designed for mass awareness and guarantee extremely high reach and great performance due to the entire screen being clickable. These ads are either a 3-second image or a 3-5 second video and allow brands to direct traffic to both internal and external landing pages.

Brand Takeover ads have a 100% Share of Voice for the day they are featured, meaning that users won't see any other Brand Takeover on that particular day. This premium ad space is ideal for large brands looking for maximum exposure, although it comes with a high price tag.

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Branded Hashtag Challenge

The Branded Hashtag Challenge is a way of engaging audiences by encouraging the co-creation of content that fits TikTok's unique user-generated content aesthetic. The format can be broken down into three placements within the app.

First, standard video ads appear in the In-Feed placement, encouraging users to take part in the challenge. Second, there is a featured banner on the Discover page, directing traffic to the Hashtag Challenge page (third placement), which is the central hub of the challenge, aggregating videos from around the world that were submitted for the challenge.

Branded Effects

Branded Effects enable brands to create shareable branded stickers, filters, and effects that users can use in their own video content. These effects can be used in standalone campaigns or integrated into Branded Hashtag Challenges for an even richer ad experience. The power of Branded Effects lies in the fact that these formats go beyond being simply an ad: the audience becomes immersed and involved, resulting in much higher levels of engagement.

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How to measure your TikTok ad campaign results

While crafting your TikTok ad strategy might take most of your time, human resources, and budgets, measuring and accurately tracking results is another crucial step toward scaling your brand. To succeed on this platform, brands need to make data-driven decisions and use the right tools to get accurate insights and improve ad performance.

As creatives play a major role in TikTok ads, brands can use Admetrics Data Studio to analyze their TikTok performance down to the creative level. With over 100 metrics, such as ROAS, POAS, CTR, CVR, and CPM, this tool compiles unique insights into all paid, owned, and earned traffic sources. By using video metrics like Thumbstop rate and Video views, brands can track the impact of their TikTok ads and gain insights into the effectiveness of their videos in engaging audiences as they scroll through their feeds.

These metrics help businesses understand a creative's potential to convert and make more informed decisions, especially when it comes to scaling ads on the platform and across all channels.

Admetrics, the marketing and analytics platform, also features a Bayesian experimentation engine, which allows users to test an array of variants at once. This can speed up the testing process and makes it easier to decide on the winning creative before burning budgets.

To preview the best-performing creatives and easily find the winning videos and copy that generate the most sales and make data-driven decisions beyond TikTok’s reporting, install Admetrics for free.