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watching tiktok ads on mobile

We Spent $100k on TikTok Video Ads in 30 Days and Pulled These Benchmarks

watching tiktok ads on mobile

One of the challenges that aspiring TikTok advertisers and agencies often run into as they plan their TikTok Ads campaigns is benchmarking.

How do our results stack up against the industry or even just other campaigns we manage? How do we know if our TikTok ad campaign is successful compared to other campaigns?

Having benchmark data for other TikTok video ads could be incredibly valuable for determining just how effective your campaigns are relative to the industry. It could also give you an idea of just how much TikTok ads cost so that you can plan properly.

So we spent $103,368 in 30 days on TikTok ads to find out just what our internal benchmarks are. Let’s take a look! 

How We Pulled TikTok Ads Benchmark Data

To get benchmark data for our TikTok ads, we did it the good ole fashioned way. We rolled up our sleeves and dug into the data from our TikTok Ad Account. We took a sample of 9 partners across 7 industries and 33 campaigns. From there, we calculated aggregates of their KPIs for 30 days.

Keep in mind that this is an aggregate of data across a couple of different campaign objectives (Traffic and Conversions) and each client has different TikTok ad creative. So your individual benchmarks may look different depending on your chosen campaign objective and the quality of your assets. 

So… How Much Do TikTok Video Ads Cost?

Nailing down the answer to that question can be a bit tricky. As is with most things in marketing and social advertising, the answer is that it depends.

There are a number of different factors that influence the cost of your TikTok advertising efforts. Things like:

  • Ad objective
  • Audiences
  • Industry
  • Ad Placements
  • Ad format
  • Creative and Ad Text
  • Landing Page

In 2019, AdAge released a report that said TikTok ads could cost anywhere from $50,000 to $120,000. Across the Internet, the consensus on the first page of Google is that TikTok ads start at $10 per CPM.

If those TikTok ad costs feel expensive, there’s hope still. Our benchmark data showed a range of individual CPMs from $5.71 to $26.51. We saw CPCs in our TikTok Ads Manager as low as $0.90. So startups and scaleups can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that advertising on TikTok is possible even if you may not have a massive budget.

Average CPC

CPC or cost per click is a measure of how much it costs for a click on your TikTok ad. Low CPCs are every advertiser’s dream and it would mean that your ad is effectively driving traffic to your landing page. Influenced by a host of factors like targeting, copy, creative, campaign objective, and placements, driving down the cost per click can be a challenge.

Our individual CPCs from this dataset ranged from $.90 to $4.85. E-commerce partners definitely had the highest CPCs of all of our industries in the dataset. EdTech had the lowest average CPC with $.90.

tiktok video ads average cpc

Average CPM

CPM or cost per 1000 impressions is a measure of how much it costs to get your ads in front of your target audience. A higher CPM could be a good indicator that your audience is too narrow or too competitive.

The campaign objective you select will also influence the CPM of your ad campaign. When you run a traffic campaign or a video views campaign, typically you can expect the CPMs to be lower than if you selected a conversions campaign.

In our dataset, the average CPM was $12.85. Our lowest CPM came from the Business and Industrial industry with a CPM of $8.06. Our highest CPM came from the e-commerce industry with a CPM of $26.51.

tiktok video ads average cpm

Average CTR

CTR is a measure of what percentage of people clicked through to your website from your TikTok video ad. The combination of your video, your copy, and your targeting will influence your CTR. A high click-through rate is typically an indicator that you’re getting in front of the right people in your audience that are interested in your ad, and that said ad is strong and resonates with your audience enough for them to click it and visit the landing page!

In our dataset, the average click-through rate for our TikTok ads was .64%. Again the Finance & Industrial interests came out on top with a CTR of 1.03%. The technology industry had the lowest click-through rate at 0.26%.

tiktok video ads average ctr

Average Hook Rate

Ad hook rates (AKA thumb stop rates) are vital to benchmarking success on TikTok. They’re a reliable way to evaluate video ads’ performance. With TikTok hook rates, you can determine if your ads actually arrest the attention of TikTok users. The video ads hook rate is calculated by dividing 2-second video views by impressions.

The highest video ads hook rate came from the Technology industry with a rate of 26.91% Bringing up the rear was EdTech with a hook rate of 3.11%. The average hook rate was 13.99%.

tiktok video ads hook rate

Average Cost Per View

Cost per view as the name implies is a measure of how much each view of your TikTok ad costs. While an impression measures the number of times your ad was seen on screen, a view measures the number of times your TikTok video or video ad was played, excluding replays.

A higher cost per view could mean that your video creative isn’t appealing to your target audience.

Our average cost per view was $0.01. Our industry costs per view ranged from $0.01 to $0.03. E-commerce had the highest cost per view at $0.03.

tiktok video ads average CPV


Having this benchmark data in our back pocket is not only helpful as a TikTok Ads agency, but we can also share it with our partners who are considering advertising on TikTok to help them put performance into context. 

Even though several of the KPIs fall into a range, it still helps us figure out what costs we want to aim for and helps our partners know what they may expect when we get started. The best part is, the more partners that explore TikTok, the more data we have to continue to build upon our benchmarks and consistently update them so we can be working off of the most relevant data!

5 Tips for Making Great (and Cost Effective) Video Ad Creative

shooting a video ad on a phone

In two short words, we can sum up the whole point of this article: video performs. No matter if we’re talking ad performance (like we’ll dig into in this article) or organic engagement, landing page CRO, and beyond, video works. 

Here’s the thing, though, not all video is created equal. As a growth marketing agency, no matter how gorgeous, flashy, or on-brand a piece of creative is, we’ll ditch it any day in favor of creative that converts. 

Like any seasoned growth marketer will tell you: there’s no clear path to growth. An effective strategy leans on fearless testing, thoughtful hypothesizing, and an unshakeable zest for learning from failures. So, over the years we’ve accumulated a list of learnings as a direct result of successes and failures. While these are not complete (and will, frankly, never be because ad platforms are constantly changing), here are some pointers for getting your creative wheels turning:

  • Get to the point QUICKLY. Like within 15 seconds. 
  • Drop in some memorable branded elements (like a subtle logo overlay).
  • Captions are a MUST. About 80% of users watch video on Facebook without sound.
  • Don’t overthink it! Ad creative is ephemeral. It’s more important to get something out there than wait until it feels perfect. 
  • Humor is HARD. Unless you can really do it right, it’s best to steer clear.
  • Constantly search for inspo! Our favorite places to go are Facebook Ads Library, WPromote’s Ad Creative Bank, and PIVADS

Ultimately, when you’re thinking about kickstarting a campaign with video, our greatest pointer: don’t overthink it; just start.

Tip #1: Have Stills? Don’t Count Them Out

If you’re feeling extra tight on budget, short on time, or, you just have a gorgeous collection of stills, simple over-image text animation is an easy way to significantly boost performance. There are two relatively simple ways to go about this:

  1. Hire a freelance designer that can add over-image text in Adobe Illustrator (or some similar program) then migrate it into After Effects to add a little magic of movement. Looking for the perfect fit? Upwork is a great place to start to hire contractors that can jump on it quickly and most often for a super reasonable price. 
  2. Try your own hand! There are tons of drag-and-drop design tools out there to help people without much design experience create something usable in minutes. The reigning champ (in our opinion) is Canva. Pro tip: lean heavily on their templates especially if you don’t have lots of design background.

Animated text inspo roundup: Pilot | DoorDash | Blue Apron

Tip #2: Get Yourself Some UGC

User-generated content is, quite simply, golden. Think about it: how much more likely are you to buy a product like a razor when you see a real, relatable person incorporating it into their everyday life (like billie does) vs. a staged ad that showcases the product in a sterile, overly-glam staged environment (like Gillette does)?

Companies like billie that do UGC remarkably well are likely able to tap a wide range of influencers and probably have a community manager on their team (or partners with a PR firm) who spends most of their week connecting with influencers, managing the creative production, and keeping up with contracts. 

For most smaller businesses looking to get into the UGC game, it can be a challenge to know where to start. That’s why we recommend testing a service like Billo. The interface is super easy to use, the creators are friendly, fun, and super professional, the support is amazing, and it makes getting user-generated content super doable on a tight (financial and time) budget. 

We tested a UGC video from Billo for our partner AKKO — check out the results!

UGC inspo roundup: Shopify | Ritual | Ruggable 

Tip #3: Try Your Own Hand

One of the most experienced Social Ads Experts/Growth Marketers on our team wrote an article awhile back. The title tells you all you need to know about our recommendations for testing video on you ad platforms if you’re not ready to try Canva or UGC: Got a Crappy iPhone Video? You’ve Got the Perfect Facebook Ad.

The TLDR; “Typically, brands think that developing video assets = 💸💸💸. But that isn’t the case. Shoot the video on your iPhone, edit it together in TikTok, and export it to use on other social channels. Mimic the latest video editing trends on social, and you can get scrappy with creating your own video content — and see great results.”

Tip #4: Build Yourself a Rolodex of Freelancers

There are SO many different ways to infuse movement into your ad creative. And so it naturally follows that there is a seemingly infinite number of creatives to help you make it. If you’ve got a bit of a budget to spend, you’ve got the opportunity to hire creatives ready to bring your ideas to life. 

As we mentioned above, Upwork is where we’ll start if we’ve got no existing connections to leverage for a new creative idea. Here’s a quick list of things to keep in mind when you hire a freelancer to help with video ad creative:

  1. Can they help with illustration/animation? (This is one of the easiest ways to create flexible assets that don’t depend on a costly video shoot).
  2. Do they have experience working with ads? They function quite differently than brand creative.
  3. Do they charge hourly or by project? (For three unique video assets without shooting, earmark anywhere from $1200 – $2000)
  4. How quick is their turnaround?

Once you’ve found a freelancer that meets your criteria, write up a quick document outlining your three unique video ideas, the most important messaging you’d like to convey, any existing branded elements you have, and a full folder of creative assets (like illustrations, photos, video, etc) that the freelancer can use. The more information you can provide (plus examples of what you like), the smoother the process will go.

Illustrated ad inspo roundup: Bench | Hotjar | SEMRush

Tip #5: Test, Test, Test

So, we put our creative through the ringer early and often to check up on four key metrics:

  1. Cost Per Click (CPC): is the creative grabby/interesting enough that it can generate a quick click from our audience?
  2. Click-Through Rate (CTR): another way of looking at CPC and essentially answers the same question. Is it compelling enough that we can get someone to want to learn more?
  3. Time on Site (TOS): does the creative match the site experience? In other words, does your creative provide a smooth transition once your user hits the site?
  4. Leads: Can be swapped for revenue, signups, etc. based on your business. This tells us which creative kickstarted the strongest path towards conversion.

In the chart below, we ran a creative audit for a partner of ours that does bookkeeping for SMBs. We tested a wide variety of creative then pulled the top-performers and bottom-performers to compare metrics and glean insights. Based on what we see here we have a strong idea of what messaging resonates best, what creative led to the most conversions, and which creative just simply flopped. 

Creative CPC CTR TOS Leads (calls)
[Video] Let’s go Brad $0.51 4.22% 0:00:11 3
[Video] Stop bookkeeping $1.02 6.36% 0:00:18 8
[Still] Family time $0.51 1.97% 0:00:10 0
[Still] Social proof $0.27 0.22% 0:00:02 0
[Still] Working late $0.43 1.00% 0:00:03 0
[Still] Meet your bookkeeper $1.07 2.71% 0:00:05 0

Now, based on what worked and the resources we’ve gleaned along the way, we’re ready to hit the ground with a creative refresh that leans heavier on what worked and ditches what doesn’t.

Ultimately, creative doesn’t have to be a production. While it should take time and consideration, we see too many organizations that shy away from video to their own demise! Looking for help kickstarting your own ad channels or leveling up your creative game? Let’s talk.