How to Build a TikTok Ad Campaign: Step-by-Step

In this article we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process to set up your TikTok ad campaign.

TikTok’s Business Center is the heart of TikTok ads. Think of it as the focal point of the action, the place where you can view a summary of all your ad activity and sift through key statistics and performance KPI’s.

TikTok's Business Center

From the Business Center, you can navigate to TikTok’s Ads Manager—the place where you’ll actually build your ad campaigns.

TikTok's Ads Manager

This brings you to the Campaign level.

This is the highest level of TikTok Ads. It shows you a list of all your campaigns and whether they’re currently active. 

Click “Create” to begin a new campaign. 

First select your Advertising Objective from a list of the following options: awareness, consideration, or conversion (see the screenshot below).

Advertising Objective Options

Select one, then press continue. 

This brings you to the Ad Group Level. 


  • Select “Ad Group Name."  Enter a name for the ad group.


  • Select manual placements. If you don’t, TikTok will disperse your ads on platforms like Vigo, Helo, and Pangle, which are only available in countries like Japan, China, and India. Choosing manual placements allows you to consolidate your ad spend on platforms that will best cater to your target audience.

Ad Details

  • Promotion Type: Select whether you want your ad to link to a website or to an app store.

  • URL: Enter the URL that links to your website or the download URL for your app.

  • Display Name: Change the display name to show the name you want users to see on the TikTok account running your ads—this step ensures proper branding for your ads.

  • Profile Image: Upload the correct logo for your company or client.

  • Category: Select the category that best fits your ads (i.e. for Forbes, select “Finance”). 

  • Ad Tags: Add hashtags specific to your client. For example, for Forbes we’d include #financing, #investing, #money, #hustle, etc. Include as many hashtags as you can, but don’t go overboard. If you can achieve your goal with less than 3 hashtags, there’s no benefit in adding 17 more just to get to 20 hashtags total.

Creative Type

  • Automative Creative Optimization: This feature tells TikTok to automatically generate mixtures of your creative assets and deliver the most high-performing combinations. In other words, it figures out which of your ads performs best, and it runs those ads as opposed to others. 


  • Audience: Just like Facebook, you can customize audiences using a CSV or look-alike audience that you’ve gathered from pixel data. You can also choose to exclude audiences. For example, if you’re running ads for a promotion and have a list of people who’ve already accepted the promotion, you can exclude them from your target audience. 

  • Demographic Filters: Select the following demographic ranges (location, gender, age, language) that best describe your target audience. Be broad, but not too broad. The key here is to strike a happy medium between achieving a large reach for your ads but not too large of a reach that your ads become ineffective. 

  • Interest Category: This category helps you consolidate your ads. For instance, you can select multiple categories (Financial Services, Education, etc.) to push your ads to these avenues within TikTok. If you choose too many interests, your ads might be diluted and less effective. Again, aim for a happy medium of targeted but not too specific.

Budget & Schedule

  • Budget: The minimum daily budget is $20.00 for a General Purchase Campaign.

  • Schedule: Choose when you want your ad campaign to start running; determine whether you want it to run continuously or intermittently after that scheduled date/time. 

  • Dayparting: Choose whether you want your ads delivered at a certain time of the day or all day.

Bidding and Optimization

  • Bidding and Optimization: Unlike Facebook ads, TikTok ads require manual bidding. At Abacus, we recommend selecting a starting bid price of $0.50. Keep an eye on this number. If your ad was approved, but it’s still not delivering, then your bid is too low to be in consideration for a spot. That means you need to increase your bid.

This brings you to the Ad Level. 

This is where you’ll input the actual ad copy and creatives.

For text and creatives, you’re limited to 12-100 characters, and you can’t include emojis or hashtags (more on this in later articles). 

Since we turned on automated creative optimization, TikTok automatically takes all our creative elements and generates the maximum amount of possible combinations. (i.e. 2 videos and 3 texts = 6 total ads combinations).

TikTok tests all possible iterations of your creatives, and it will automatically deliver the top performer

Once you’ve finished inputting your creatives, press Submit.

This sends your ad to TikTok for a final review. If/when it’s approved, and if the bid price is comparable to the market rate, your ads will start delivering!


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