Skip to the main content.
Featured Image

Best practices for audience targeting in TikTok Ads

TikTok has become a powerful platform that captivates audiences with its unique combination of creativity and engagement. As businesses increasingly recognise the potential of TikTok ads to reach and resonate with diverse demographics, the search for effective targeting strategies becomes critical.


Introduction to audience targeting in TikTok Ads


TikTok Ads, the advertising platform of the popular short-form video social network, has become a critical resource for brands looking to reach highly engaged and diverse audiences. With millions of active users worldwide, TikTok offers advertisers a variety of audience targeting options to ensure their messages reach the right users at the right time.

These options not only enable precise personalisation, but also make it easier to maximise the return on advertising spend. From demographic targeting to interest and behavioural targeting, the tools available in TikTok Ads give advertisers the flexibility to create effective and relevant campaigns in a highly dynamic and competitive environment.

Audience targeting options in TikTok Ads include:

  • Core audience: Advertisers can target core audiences based on demographic criteria such as age, gender, location and language. This allows for initial segmentation to reach specific groups of users.

  • Interests and behaviours: TikTok allows advertisers to segment audiences based on users' interests and behaviours on the platform. This includes categories such as music, fashion, travel, sports, entertainment, among others, as well as online and shopping behaviours.

  • Custom audiences: Advertisers can upload lists of existing customers or website visitors to create custom audiences. This allows them to reach people who have already interacted with their brand on other channels.

  • Lookalike audiences: TikTok offers the option to expand the audience by creating lookalike audiences. These audiences are based on similar characteristics to existing users, which can help you reach new groups of people.

  • Smart Targeting: TikTok has introduced Smart Targeting controls that allow you to expand beyond the designated audience, interests and standard behavioural settings. These controls offer more precise targeting and are designed to be intuitive, giving advertisers greater control over the targeting variables they wish to expand.

The audience targeting options in TikTok Ads are diverse and allow advertisers to customise their strategies to reach the most relevant users for their campaigns.


Best practices for audience targeting in TikTok Ads

Creating effective TikTok Ads involves understanding the unique characteristics of the platform and your audience. Here are some best practices for targeting audiences on TikTok Ads:


Start with broad targeting

Broad targeting, also known as "Broad by Default" in TikTok Ads, refers to an advertising strategy that allows you to reach a wider audience without specifying detailed targeting criteria. Instead of selecting specific audience characteristics, you rely on the platform's criteria to show your ads to a more diverse set of users.

When you choose broad targeting in TikTok Ads, you allow the platform to automatically optimise the distribution of your ads to reach a wider audience that might be interested in your product or service. This option can be useful when your goal is to generate mass brand awareness and you don't want to limit the exposure of your ads to specific audience segments.

Broad targeting does not mean broad dissemination. It simply means that advertising models have more freedom to optimally determine the right users to see your ads. With the integration of automatic targeting in the backend, broad targeting is more effective than ever.


Explore the required manual controls

While it is recommended that you start with broad targeting, there are situations where manual controls need to be used. 

Interest and behavioural targeting is a key strategy for effectively targeting ads to specific users who have particular affinities or behavioural patterns on the platform. This form of targeting allows you to personalise your campaigns to reach more relevant audiences and increase the effectiveness of your advertising messages.


  • TikTok allows you to target users based on your specific interests. This involves selecting categories or topics relevant to the target audience. For example, if a brand is promoting sportswear, it can target users interested in sports, fitness or fashion.



  • Behavioural targeting focuses on the activity patterns of users on the platform. This can include how often they interact with certain types of content, participate in viral challenges or share videos on specific topics. You can adjust your strategies based on these behaviours to maximise ad resonance.


Message personalisation:

  • By understanding audience interests and behaviours, you can personalise your advertising messages more effectively. This helps you create content that resonates with your target audience, increasing the likelihood of engagement and conversion.


ROAS optimisation:

  • Interest and behavioural targeting contributes to a better optimisation of return on investment (ROAS). By targeting users who are more likely to be interested in a specific product or service, you can increase the efficiency of your advertising campaigns.


Targeted campaigns for subsets of the audience:

  • You can create targeted campaigns designed to reach specific subsets of the audience, maximising the relevance of the content to each demographic or interest group.

Interest and behavioural targeting offers a valuable tool to connect with your audience in a more meaningful way, promoting a more personalised and effective advertising experience on the platform.


Activate smart targeting

Smart targeting in TikTok includes two components: smart audience and smart interests and behaviour. This feature is an enhanced version of Expansion Targeting. In essence, Smart Targeting is an intelligent tool designed to identify users who are more likely to meet your campaign objectives, such as completing a payment.

When enabled, Smart Targeting allows TikTok to show your ads to users beyond the specified Interests & Behaviors or Audience settings if it predicts improved ad performance. In simpler terms, it allows your ads to reach a broader but relevant audience.

The primary goal of smart targeting is to increase advertisers' performance. This results in a reduction in CPA (cost per action) and helps mitigate ad fatigue, ensuring campaigns remain effective and engaging.


tiktok smart targeting


Create custom and lookalike audiences

Custom audiences in TikTok Ads allow you to define specific groups of users based on certain criteria and then target your ads to these specific audiences.

Customised audiences:

  • Custom audiences involve creating groups of users based on specific data you already have. This data can include past interactions with your website, mobile apps, customer lists, or even engagement with specific videos on TikTok.

    For example, you can create a custom audience that includes those who have visited your website in the last 30 days. TikTok will use that information to show your ads to this specific group of users.


Lookalike audiences:

  • Similar audiences are groups of users who share similar characteristics and behaviours to an existing custom audience.

  • After creating a custom audience, TikTok Ads allows you to expand your reach by showing your ads to users who have similarities to that custom audience. The platform uses algorithms to identify common patterns and find additional users who may be interested in your content.


These features allow you to maximise the effectiveness of your campaigns by targeting more specific and relevant audiences. By personalising your targeting, you can increase the likelihood that your ads reach people who are more likely to be interested in your product or service. This also helps optimise ad spend by targeting users who are more likely to take desired actions, such as clicking on the link, downloading an app or making a purchase.


Validate that more advanced techniques outperform broad targeting

The most effective approach to enable TikTok's machine learning systems to optimise ad delivery is broad targeting, as previously discussed. However, it is essential that you test and validate each optimisation, always making sure that broad targeting is useful for what your brand needs. By employing this test-and-learn strategy, you can easily identify the optimal targeting configuration for your business objectives.

TikTok has evolved as an advertising platform, highlighting the importance of advanced targeting strategies. From broad targeting to the activation of smart targeting, these tools offer significant opportunities to improve the effectiveness of advertising campaigns. Constant validation and testing of these advanced techniques are key to optimising performance. This article provides a comprehensive guide for you to make the most of the innovative targeting features in TikTok, thereby improving the impact of your campaigns.


Banner EN Servicios - Social Advertising


Leave a comment!