TikTok. An app with humble beginnings, a place where users could lip sync and dance to songs, has become a giant in ways no one could have imagined.

By the end of 2021, TikTok had 1.2 billion monthly active users, and is expected to reach 1.5 billion by the end of 2022. Along with a healthy active user base, the company has managed to craft a unique ad program for businesses.

If you’re looking to market to over a billion users, here are the TikTok ad formats to consider.

In-Feed Ads

These ads should feel familiar to anyone who’s used Facebook or Instagram. They appear in between videos as users scroll through their For You page. While you can create an ad of up to 15 seconds, just like any TikTok video, the first three seconds are the most important. 

Of any of the TikTok ad formats, this is arguably the best opportunity for natural and organic branding. If done well, your ad can easily blend in as another creative video. Perfect for any campaign, you can utilize a CTA button that can drive traffic to your brand's own TikTok, an external page, or an app download.


TopView is the flagship of all of the TikTok ad formats. It gives your brand prime real estate as the very first video seen when a user opens the app. You have up to 60 seconds to create the most eye-catching, scroll-stopping video your creative team can muster. Best of all, as your video appears first, it won’t be caught in between dissimilar videos and users will be less likely to mindlessly scroll past it.

Brand Takeover

Think of this as the more boisterous, bigger brother of TopView. While this TikTok ad format is often used by larger brands due to the costly price tag, Brand Takeovers offer the best exposure. Like TopView, these are full screen ads that are the very first thing users see when they open the app. 

However, the biggest difference is that you “own” 100% of the space for that day, as users will only be shown your ad and your ad alone. It’s often used in conjunction with the other TikTok ad formats for maximum exposure. For example, the Guess clothing brand kicked off a six-day campaign with a Brand Takeover to raise awareness for their #InMYDenim Hashtag Challenge (more on this next). They also enlisted popular influencers to demonstrate the challenge in four videos using the hashtag, and from there the campaign went viral.

Branded Hashtag Challenge

This format is possibly the most TikTok-like ad, aiming the focus on user-generated-content (UGC). You'll find them in 3 main areas: 1) videos that appear in-feed, 2) the featured banner on the Discover page that leads users to 3) the Hashtag Challenge page, which aggregates all the videos using the hashtag for optimal discovery and exposure.

As with the aforementioned Guess campaign, they pulled out all the stops, combining the “can’t miss” factor of the Brand Takeover and having popular influencers demonstrate how to perform the challenge. Both methods ensured that users would have full awareness of the campaign while using the TikTok ad formats that are most native to the app.

Branded Effects

These effects are simple, yet can be extremely effective. They allow brands to create their own stickers, lenses, and AR filters that allow users to add their own creative spin to their content with your brand.

Whether you use the effect to allow users to virtually try your beauty products, or you place them inside the set of your TV show, Branded Effects bring users into your world as they continue to tell their stories.

When considering the various TikTok ad formats available to businesses of any size, it’s clear that the company understands not only its product, but what works with its users, and most importantly, how to blur the lines between ads and the content that users enjoy.