Best practices for Auction Ads
Last updated, May 2024

At TikTok for Business, we want to help you grow your business! In this article, we've put together a list of recommendations and tips to help you get the most out of your auction ads on TikTok Ads Manager.


We developed these best practices using our internal data and consulting directly with the people who designed TikTok Ads Manager. These recommendations form the basis for creating and running successful auction ads.


Measurement

App marketers need to share signals with TikTok.

  • Why: Sharing events from your app with TikTok lets you attribute campaign impact, optimize performance for your app campaigns, and unlock better targeting.

  • Tips: Share signal data with TikTok directly or via third-party partners:

  • Mobile measurement partners: We have integrated with leading mobile measurement partners (MMPs) to enable you to share event data for the purpose of optimization and measurement.

  • Events API & SDK: Directly and flexibly share signals with TikTok without needing a Mobile Measurement Partner as an intermediary. Note: This is currently in testing and not available to all users. Please check with your TikTok representative for more information.


Web marketers need to share signals directly with TikTok via our web measurement tools

  • Why: Sharing web signals helps you show people personalized ads and unlock benefits such as better targeting, optimization, and measurement.

  • Tips: We offer Pixel and API integrations for you to choose the right solution based on your technical capabilities and business needs. When possible, we recommend using both the API integrations and Pixel at the same time.


Only install one TikTok Pixel on your website

  • Why: Installing multiple pixels on a website will dilute the number of attributed events the pixel can track. With fewer attributed events for each pixel, the system is less accurate at predicting the estimated click-through and conversion rates.


Share full funnel events from your website or app to TikTok

  • Why: The system can use your upper funnel events to better predict the conversion rate (eCVR) for lower funnel events.

  • Do not: Only share one event with TikTok.

  • Tips: If you cannot post back all your event data, post back at least three events from the upper, mid, and lower parts of your funnel. For example, an e-commerce business might share "View Content," "Add to Cart," and "Complete Payment" events with TikTok.


Share all unattributed event data from your app and website to TikTok

  • Why: Sharing all unattributed app event data and all unattributed web events with TikTok will give our system more signals it can use to optimize ad delivery and let you create retargeting audiences.


Use advanced matching on your website

  • Why: This will allow you to send privacy-safe customer information to better match website events with ads on TikTok, letting you expand your reach, boost campaign optimization, and capture more events with complete cross-device and cross-session matching.


Postback value and currency to TikTok

  • Why: Posting back purchase value and currency will let you view your return on ad spend (ROAS) on TikTok Ads Manager and enable you to optimize directly for high-value purchasers using value-based optimization for app or web.

  • Tips: Web marketers will need to postback purchase value and currency. App marketers only need to post back purchase value, as currency is set up via MMP.


Account structure

Run your ads from one account

  • Why: Conversion and performance data are stored at the account level, which helps the system deliver ads more accurately.

  • Do not: Create new accounts to address performance or scaling challenges, as this cannot solve such issues.

  • Tips: Only create new ad accounts to help with account management and analysis.


Use the Traffic advertising objective to attract quality traffic to your website and use the Website Conversions advertising objective to get people to take a desirable action

  • Why: The Traffic objective brings people to your website, and the Website Conversions objective gets people to take valuable actions on your website or a TikTok Instant Page.

  • Tips: Leverage TikTok Ads Manager's web-based optimization goals to deliver ads to audiences more likely to click your ads, take action on your site or Instant Page, and trigger high-value activities on your website. Choose from:

    • Click Optimization: Find people to click your ads.

    • ​Landing Page View Optimization: Find people to visit your website or Instant Page.

    • Conversion Optimization: Find people to take action on your website or Instant Page.

    • Value-based Optimization: Find people to purchase something on your website and return the highest possible value.


Use the App Promotion advertising objective to promote your app

  • Why: The App Promotion encompasses App Install and App Retargeting use cases, which you can use to drive app installs and in-app conversion events on your app.

  • Tips: Leverage TikTok Ads Manager's app-based optimization goals to deliver ads to audiences more likely to install your app, take action within your app, and trigger high-value activities. Choose from:


Create 3 to 5 diversified ad groups per campaign

  • Why: Diversified ad groups with different targeting, creative, optimization goals, bid strategies, etc., give the system more variables to explore ad delivery.

  • ​Do not: Copy an ad group without changing its settings; this will cause the ad groups to compete against each other.


Add 3 to 5 creatives per ad group, but no more than 10

  • Why: It's better to maintain your ad groups with 3 to 5 unique creatives and refresh them when performance decreases, even if you have more in your library.

  • Do not: Put one creative in an ad group.

  • Tips: If it's challenging to develop creative content, use our creative tools. For example, you can use Automated Creative Optimization (ACO) to build ads from different creative combinations of video, ad text, and call-to-actions (CTA).


Targeting

Ensure scalable audiences

  • Why: An ad group with a broad or balanced audience size will give the system more opportunities to explore and discover the best audience for your ads. Budget consumption and CPA are often better for broad audiences than narrow targeting.

  • Do not: Unless, you are excluding specific audiences from your targeting, do not build audiences that are "too narrow"; this will make it harder to pass the learning phase and can decrease the lifespan of your ad group.

  • Tips to help build scalable audiences:

    • ​Use tools like Automatic Targeting and Targeting Expansion to help reach new audiences.

    • ​Consider using multiple events for App Activity and Website Traffic custom audiences if the audience size based on one event is too small.

    • ​Generate Lookalike Audiences from your top-performing Custom Audiences to further expand your reach.


Use TikTok Ads Manager's "exclude audience" function to remove people from your target audience who have already converted

  • Why: Make the most of your budget by targeting people who haven't completed the action you are driving. For example, you should exclude people who have already installed your app from an ad group optimized against app installs.

  • Tips: Set up your targeting so you can still reach a scalable audience, even with your audience exclusions.


Broaden targeting when it's hard to pass the learning phase, there is a drop in budget consumption, or the CPA is too high

  • Why: Adjusting targeting will give the system more room to discover new audiences likely to convert.

  • Tips: If you are unsure of how to expand your targeting, try Targeting Expansion which is designed to find the best audience with some level of targeting control defined by you. Additionally, targeting is not the only lever you can pull to address these issues; you can also adjust your ad group's bid, budget, and creatives. Make sure you only make one adjustment at a time and wait at least two days between adjustments.


Creative

Prioritize high-quality and engaging creatives

  • Why: Creative quality is critical to the success of TikTok ads. Ads that people "like" will often have higher click-through (CTR) and conversion rates (CVR). These metrics will directly impact how competitive your ads are in the auction.

  • Do not: Publish low-quality and irrelevant creative; this may cause people to report your ads or mark them as not interested, hurting ad performance.

  • Tips: Try your best to make creative that resonates with your target audience and refresh your creative frequently to avoid showing the same ads to the same people an excessive number of times. To help create content that resonates with your audience:

    • Lean into current trends: E.g., audio/song trends. Show the audience you are involved with the platform and in the know. Check out the Creative Center to explore trends.

    • Leverage creative partners: We understand that TikTok comes with unique creative demands, and we can help you source creative partners who can help you keep up with creative quantity, quality, and trends! Find your next collab using TikTok Marketing Partners, TikTok Creator Marketplace, or TikTok Creative Exchange

    • Enable commenting: Positive comments can act as social proof and inspire others to take action. Use TikTok Ads Manager's Comment Management tool to efficiently manage your ads' comments.


Build a TikTok creative team

  • Why: Invest in your TikTok-first creative. Creative made for TikTok performs the best, and you can even use TikTok content to promote your business on other platforms.

  • Tips: You can easily set up a creative team with just two people, one person to research trends, develop content, and analyze performance, and one person to shoot and edit your videos.


Maintain an extensive library of diverse creative assets

  • Why: Having diverse creatives will help the system deliver impressions across your target audience, and a large volume of content will help extend the lifespan of your campaigns, letting you reach more people.

  • Do not: Show people the same ad an excessive number of times; this can lead to people marking not interested or even reporting your ad.

  • Tips: Use TikTok Ads Manager's Creative Tools to quickly develop creatives for TikTok.


Refresh an ad group's creatives to extend its lifespan

  • Why: We have observed that refreshing creatives is a top factor in determining the lifespan of your ad groups.

  • Do not: Put all of your creatives into one ad group at once; instead, refresh its creatives over time.


Add new creatives to an ad group when creative performance starts to decline

  • Why: Uploading new creatives to an ad group will help the system reach new audiences for your ads.

  • Tips: After passing the learning phase, consider adding new creatives to your ad groups under the following scenarios:

    • ​The click-through-rate (CTR) for your ads decreases by 10% or more for three consecutive days.

    • ​The CPA for your ads increases by 1.3 times.


Prioritize extending the lifespan of your ad groups over creating new ones

  • Why: Ad groups benefit from the data they accumulate over time, and in this regard, the more data, the better. When you create a new ad group, the system has access to less historical data it can use to determine the best audience for your ads.

  • Do not: Create new ad groups without first trying to revive them by adding new creative and optimizing the settings of your current ad groups.

  • Tips: Only create new ad groups if your optimizations do not increase performance.


Use TikTok Ads Manager's Split Test and Automated Creative Optimization (ACO) to identify your top creatives

  • Why: Split Test is the best way to run scientific A/B tests on TikTok Ads Manager and ACO can help you scale the delivery of your top-performing creatives.

  • Tips: Try one of these three tactics using Split Test and ACO to identify your best creative:

    • ​Use the Split Test function to run scientific A/B tests using creative as your variable. Split Test is super helpful for identifying different creative styles like Spark Ads vs. Non-Spark Ads.

    • ​Create several test ad groups that share the same settings and use different creatives for each of your ad groups. Then, once you find the best creative from the test ad groups, create a new ACO-enabled ad group, put your top-performing creatives in it, and combine it with different ad texts and CTAs to scale.

    • ​Create one ACO-enabled ad group and find your top-performing video, text, and CTA combinations. Then, put the top-performing creative combinations in a single non-ACO ad group.


Make sure your videos are at least 10 seconds long, 720p or higher, vertically framed, full screen, and have sound on

  • Why: Creatives that do not follow these basic requirements will fail to perform.

  • Tips: Consider these general creative suggestions:

    • ​Have a hook in the first 3-6 seconds.

    • ​Tell a story in your ad.

    • ​Use different visual styles to reach different audiences.

    • ​Try to evoke specific emotions in your audience, like humor or joy.

    • ​Shoot your videos from multiple camera angles.


Use TikTok Ads Manager's Video Insights tool to analyze the performance of your videos

  • Why: The Video Insights tool will let you identify the parts of your video that drove viewer retention, clicks, conversions, and drop-off.

  • Tips: Identify and recreate the creative elements of your videos that drove user interactions.


Bidding

Always enter the maximum amount that you are willing to spend on conversions

  • Why: Bidding is one of the most direct and effective ways to address scaling and ad delivery issues. When you give the system the maximum amount you are willing to pay per conversion, you're giving the system more opportunities to find the right audience for your ads. A higher bid will help improve your competitiveness in the auction.

  • Do not: Be overly concerned if your CPA bid is too high or your Minimum ROAS bid is too low. The system uses a second price model, where the auction winner only pays more than the second highest bidder. So your actual CPA may be lower than your bid, and your actual ROAS may be higher than your bid.

  • Tips: When running conversion and value-based campaigns:

    • ​Set the highest acceptable CPA bid for Cost Cap ad groups.

    • ​Set the lowest acceptable ROAS bid for Minimum ROAS ad groups.


Use historical benchmarks to determine your bids

  • Why: This will help you enter reasonable CPA or ROAS bids into the system.

  • Tips: To determine a reasonable bid, try the following:

    • For Cost Cap ad groups: Refer to your actual CPA from ad groups targeting the same audiences, promoting the same products, and optimizing against the same goal.

    • For Minimum ROAS ad groups: Refer to your actual ROAS from the past seven days for ad groups targeting the same audiences, promoting the same products, and optimizing towards Complete Payment.

  • ​If you don't have access to these benchmarks, run ad groups using the Maximum Delivery or Highest Value bid strategies. After they run for a few days, you can use the actual CPA and ROAS as references for your future bids.


Increase your CPA bid or decrease your ROAS bid in response to low-delivery and scaling issues

  • Why: Increasing your CPA bid, and decreasing your ROAS bid, is one of the most direct ways to address low-delivery and scaling issues.


Increase your CPA bid before your actual CPA is greater than or equal to your bid, or decrease your ROAS bid before your actual ROAS is less than or equal to your bid

  • Why: When the actual CPA or ROAS reaches your bid, you might lose future opportunities since your ad is hitting the competitiveness ceiling.

  • Tips: Always enter a bid representing the maximum amount you are willing to spend on your desired outcomes; this way, the system will have more room to explore the best audience for your ad compared with changing your bid mid-flight. If you are willing to increase the CPA bid for Cost Cap or decrease the ROAS bid for Minimum ROAS, the earlier the better.


Do not immediately decrease your CPA bid or increase your ROAS bid when the actual CPA/ROAS does not meet your targets

  • Why: Decreasing your CPA bid and increasing your ROAS bid can lead to immediate drops in budget consumption.

  • Do not: Decrease your "bid" in the following scenarios:

    • ​For Cost Cap ad groups, do not decrease your CPA bid when:

    • ​The lifetime CPA is higher than your bid, but the current CPA (from the last few hours or days) is below your bid - this means that the system is stabilizing ad delivery and improving performance.

    • ​The lifetime CPA is lower than or equal to your bid, but the current CPA (from the last few hours or days) is above your bid. You can expect this type of fluctuation in a competitive auction environment. And if the overbidding persists, the system will automatically adjust its bidding accordingly.

  • ​For Minimum ROAS ad groups, do not increase your ROAS bid when:

    • ​The actual ROAS is lower than your Minimum ROAS bid. If the ad group cannot achieve your ROAS target, the system will adjust ad delivery accordingly. And if you increase the Minimum ROAS bid, your ad group may experience a severe drop in spending.

    • Tips: If your CPA/ROAS is not meeting your expectations, be patient and give the system time to reach your targets. Making small and infrequent changes is better if you must adjust your bids.


Adjust your bids at 12:00 AM local time

  • Why: Updating your bid early in the day will give the system more room to stabilize ad delivery.

  • Tips: Use TikTok Ads Manager's Automated Rules to run new bids at specific times. And if you have to make adjustments later in the day, the smaller, the better.


Budget

Keep your campaign budget open and use a daily budget for ad groups

  • Why: When you use a Daily or Lifetime campaign budget, delivery of your ad groups may suddenly stop when the campaign's budget runs out.

  • Tips: You can leverage Campaign Budget Optimization to help optimize budget allocation between ad groups. If you want to use a set budget at the campaign level, make sure that the budget is equal to or greater than the sum of each ad group's budget.


Use a budget that accurately reflects how much you are willing to invest in TikTok ads

  • Why: The system needs to know your actual budget to balance the relationship between budget consumption and CPA.

  • ​Do not: Use an extremely high budget if you want to maintain a strong CPA or ROAS when using the Maximum Delivery or Highest Value bid strategies. In this case, the system will seek to spend your budget in full, which may result in a CPA or ROAS that does not meet your business goals.

  • Tips: If you have a considerable budget, spread your available budget across multiple ad groups with different creatives instead of putting all your budget in a single ad group.


Use a daily ad group budget that is at least 10 to 50 times your target CPA

  • Why: Structure your ad group's budget so you can accumulate enough conversions (~50) to pass the learning phase within seven days. If you can support a daily budget over 50 times your target CPA, you can potentially pass the learning phase in a single day.

  • ​For some events, like Complete Payment, understand that these are highly competitive events, and your budget may not be able to support 50 or more conversions per day.

  • ​For scenarios where you are bidding against expensive conversion events, try setting your daily budget at least 10 or 20 times the target CPA instead of the recommended 50.

  • Do not: Do not set your budget excessively low. The lower the budget, the harder it is for the model to accumulate conversion data, preventing you from passing the learning phase and stabilizing your CPA or ROAS.

  • Tips: See our recommendations for a daily budget based on your optimization goal:

    • ​Daily budgets for app marketers

      • App installs: ≥50 * target CPA

      • In-app event (Upper and mid-funnel events): ≥20 * target CPA

      • In-app event (Purchase): ≥10 * target CPA

      • ​Value (VBO): ≥10 * target CPA

    • ​Daily budgets for web marketers

      • ​Complete payment event (Value & Conversion): ≥10 * target CPA

      • Other optimization events: ≥20 * target CPA


Increase your budget when the budget consumption rate is above 95% AND your ads are meeting your expectations for CPA or ROAS

  • Why: If your budget is being consumed above 95% and you're reaching your target CPA or ROAS, it indicates that the system may be able to find more people who can convert at your costs.

  • ​Do not: If your budgets are not being fully consumed, or your target CPAs or ROAS are not being met, it's an indication that the system is having trouble converting your target audience at your current CPA and ROAS targets, then adding additional budget will not lead to more positive outcomes.

  • Tips: To get the most out of your budget increases:

    • ​Increase your budget by up to 50% at a time.

    • ​Increase your budget before the start of the weekend.

    • ​Leverage TikTok Ads Manager's Automated Rules to automatically increase your budget when the right conditions are met. For example, when the budget consumption rate is ≥ 95%, and CPA is ≤ XX, increase the ad group budget by 30%.


Reduce your budget to control CPA and ROAS when using Maximum Delivery and Highest Value bid strategies

  • Why: These bid strategies do not use a bid, so it is hard for the system to tell when it's not reaching your target and needs to suppress ad delivery.

  • ​Do not: Decrease your budget by more than 30% at once; this can lead to fluctuations in ad delivery.

  • ​Tips: When using Maximum Delivery as your bid strategy, use TikTok Ads Manager's Automated Rules to decrease your ad group budgets when the CPA is higher than your target. For example, when CPA is ≥ $XX, reduce the ad group budget by 20%.


Pacing & delivery

Do not use dayparting unless you have a limited budget AND have strong evidence showing that performance is better at certain times of the day

  • Why: Essentially, dayparting has the same effect as pausing and resuming ad delivery throughout the day, preventing the system from optimizing delivery.


Use standard delivery and a daily budget for stable ad delivery and budget consumption

  • Why: These settings will help the system consume your budget more evenly throughout the day and the campaign.


Use accelerated delivery when you want to spend your budget as fast as possible and are flexible with your CPA

  • Why: Accelerated delivery will cause the system to spend your budget as quickly as possible.

  • Tips: Use accelerated delivery during a specific window, like a promotional period or a new title launch (for gaming). Additional tactics include:

    • ​Combining accelerated delivery with a lifetime budget to spend your budget as quickly as possible.

    • ​Combining accelerated delivery with a daily budget to spend your budget as soon as possible in a single day.


Making adjustments

Focus on tracking the metrics that matter

  • Why: By defining the results and metrics that matter, you will be able to identify when you need to optimize performance or are ready to scale your ads. For example, if your goal is to drive sales and your ROAS is strong, then do not be concerned if your CPM is high.


Adjust your bid, budget, targeting, and creatives to optimize performance

  • Why: These settings strongly impact auction performance and help the system find the best audience for your ads.

  • Tips: Try these tips when adjusting your ad group and campaign settings:

    • ​If your CPA is too high:

      • Decrease your Cost Cap bid by no more than 20%.

      • ​For Maximum Delivery ad groups, lower your budget by no more than 30%.

      • ​Expand your targeting manually, through Targeting Expansion, or adopt a Lookalike Audience.

      • ​Refresh your ad group with higher-quality creatives.

    • ​If there is a drop in spending:

      • ​Increase your CPA bid or decrease your ROAS bid.

      • Refresh your ad group with higher-quality creatives.

      • Expand your targeting manually, or through Targeting Expansion, or adopt a Lookalike Audience.

      • Consolidate ad groups with the same goals and targeting into one.


Only adjust one ad group or campaign setting at a time and wait at least two days before making additional adjustments

  • Why: Ad delivery is a lot like practicing a sport. If you frequently change the sport you're trying to master - you'll never improve. The same is true with ad delivery. Making frequent changes to your ad group and campaign settings makes it difficult for the system to explore the right audience for your ads, making it difficult to stabilize and predict ad delivery.

  • Tips: Making significant adjustments to your ad group can restart the learning phase, both during the learning phase and post-learning phase. Given your new requirements, the system will need time to recalibrate and stabilize ad delivery when the learning phase restarts. Significant adjustments include:

    • ​Making sharp adjustments to your budget or bid.

    • ​Making drastic changes to targeting, like changing the country/region.

    • ​Deleting your ad group's best creatives.

    • ​Adding too many new creatives at once to an existing ad group.

    • ​Pausing an ad group for more than seven days.


Disclaimer

Neither TikTok Inc. nor any of its affiliates, or its or their respective directors, officers, employees, or agents (collectively, "TikTok") make any representation or warranty, express or implied, in relation to the accuracy or completeness of the information contained in this document, and accepts no responsibility, obligation, or liability in relation to any of such information. TikTok Inc. expressly disclaims any and all liability that may be based on this document and any errors therein or omissions therefrom. TikTok undertakes no obligation or responsibility to update any of the information contained in this document. Past performance does not guarantee or predict future performance.

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