Introduction to TikTok Ads: Custom Audiences

First, I walked you through the basics of campaign creation related to TikTok ads. The process is surprisingly similar (possibly inspired) by Facebook Ads Manager. Today, let’s discuss your options for TikTok ads Custom Audiences.

The concept of Custom Audiences on TikTok is largely no different than that on Facebook. You are able to create audiences of your customers and people who engaged with you, either on or off of the platform. There are some interesting variations, of course.

I should first make it clear that I am new to this platform. I am no expert. There will be portions here that are unclear to me and I’ll provide my most educated understanding of how something works. But, it’s entirely possible that I’m wrong in some cases. Please let me know if you spot any such inaccuracies.

Ready? Let’s discuss…

The Basics

To access Custom Audiences, go to the Assets menu in Ads Manager and select “Audiences.”

TikTok Custom Audiences

Now, click “Create Audience” and then “Custom Audience.”

TikTok Custom Audiences

I’m going to say this a lot (and you may be thinking it), but this is all so familiar.

There are six categories of Custom Audiences that you can create.

TikTok Custom Audiences

When you create these audiences, you’ll be able to set a number of days for how long someone will be in your audience. One difference here compared to Facebook Custom Audiences is that the number of days your audience covers is not free form. You have several options to choose from, starting at 7 days and going to 180.

TikTok Custom Audiences

When creating these audiences, many have options for autorefresh (on by default) and allowing them to be used in Reach & Frequency campaigns (off by default).

TikTok Custom Audiences

Let’s cover these audiences now…

Customer File

TikTok Custom Audiences

I know that advertisers will want the ability to target their email lists. Well, that’s not really what’s happening here.

These audiences only allow you to target users by IDFA or GAID. These are mobile device IDs. You would not typically have this information for those on your email list. This may be more specific to usage of your app.

Audiences by email address and phone number are not yet possible, but they are currently in testing.

App Activity

TikTok Custom Audiences

You can create audiences based on engagement with your app. There is a long list of potential events that you can choose from.

TikTok Ads Custom Audiences

Maybe some other day we’ll cover everything in that deep list. In the meantime, here’s some documentation.

Lead Generation

TikTok Ads Custom Audiences

The only options are Submit Form and Form View and the length of time goes up to 90 days (like Facebook).

TikTok Custom Audiences

I am not currently running TikTok lead ads, but it seems as those these audiences are general. In other words, I see nothing in the documentation that allows you to create different audiences for different forms.

This is obviously something I need to research more. But I assume this works differently than on Facebook, where you may create different forms for different opt-ins.


TikTok Ads Custom Audiences

As you can see in the image above, these are audiences based on engagement with videos in ads only. This is not related to any organic engagement. You can select engagement with specific ad groups (ad sets) or leave it open.

There are a few different ad types you can choose from to focus on .

TikTok Custom Audiences

And there are several action types. This goes all the way to watching 100% of the video ad.

TikTok Custom Audiences

Website Traffic

TikTok Ads Custom Audiences

If you’re like me, you’re excited about this option. Unfortunately, that excitement is about to come down.

You can create audiences based on Page View or one of several standard events.

TikTok Custom Audiences

For more info on the events, here is some documentation from TikTok.

What’s disappointing about this? Well, first is that it doesn’t look like you can create audiences based on specific products or pages. I don’t have events set up yet, but there’s still no indication in the documentation that further focus is possible.

But, here’s the bigger issue, unless I’m misunderstanding how the TikTok pixel works…

All indications are that your website custom audience builds only based on traffic on your website driven directly from TikTok. I have not seen this documented officially. But I have heard it second-hand and I am experiencing what would be consistent with this.

For example, TikTok Events Manager tells me that the pixel is installed and has led to more than 400,000 page view events.

TikTok Custom Audiences

And yet, the website custom audience I created based on page views has only four people in it.

TikTok Custom Audiences

Note I haven’t been running ads to drive traffic and my videos generally have not focused on driving traffic, so these results are consistent with the theory. I’m a newbie over here, so user error is still possible.

Business Account

TikTok Ads Custom Audiences

These engagements will also include organic, unlike the Engagement group.

TikTok Custom Audiences

These actions have no time limit. In other words, it doesn’t matter when someone started following, viewed your profile, or watched your video. They are included in this audience. That could potentially get annoying later on.

What I’m Using So Far

I’ve just started creating and using these and most just wouldn’t be useful to me since I haven’t created lead forms (other than an organic form) or used ads to drive traffic or conversions.

That means that my audiences are all based on engagement with ads, my profile, or my videos generally.

TikTok Custom Audiences

I’ve started using these to try and isolate high quality engagement for increasing my following.

Your Turn

Have you started using TikTok custom audiences yet? Anything I’m misunderstanding? What do you think?

Let me know in the comments below!