TikTok Ads Targeting Guide

TikTok Ads Targeting
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It is an open secret that most of the content creators on TikTok are GenZ, but a common misconception exists that every user on TikTok is between the ages of 16 and 24.

While 41% of users do fall into this age range, 59% of the platform is made up of users from the Millenial, GenX, and even Baby Boomer generations online.

So you see, there is no one size-fit all way of targeting users on TikTok with your ads. So since we are discussing targeted ads, allow me a minute to tell you a story about targeted display advertising.

An ad for baby clothes is a perfect example of a targeted ad. I will explain.

The perfect example of a targeted ad happened with the advertiser named Target. An angry man walked into Mr. Target’s outlet outside of Minneapolis, demanding to speak to a manager

“My daughter got this in the mailbox,” he said. “She’s still in high school, and you are sending her coupons for cribs and baby clothes? Are you trying to encourage her to get pregnant, already?”

The manager didn’t have an idea what the man was talking about. He took a look at the mailer. Sure enough, it was addressed to the man’s daughter and contained ads for maternity clothing, nursery furniture, and photos of smiling infants. The manager apologized and the angry man left.

A few days later, the manager called the father to apologize again. On the phone, though, the father was somewhat remorseful.

He said “I talked with my daughter,” “It turns out there’s been some activities in my house I have not been completely aware of. She’s due in September. I owe you an apology.”

It turns out Mr. Target was leveraging behavioral targeting to analyze the purchasing patterns of his customers, and the analytics guessed that this woman might be pregnant based on her purchases, so Target decided to target ads for pregnant women to this High school daughter, and turns out his guess was accurate.

In this article, I will walk you through the various TikTok ad targeting options you have out there to leverage and rake in quality website traffic in your TikTok marketing campaigns.

TikTok Ads Targeting Options

#1. Location Targeting

TikTok Location targeting

TikTok Ads helps you tailor messages and shoot them to specific locations including countries, regions, states, provinces, metro areas, cities, and more.

Note: If you are targeting multiple countries, Metro Areas (also called metropolitan areas) will have regional descriptions (such as Counties, Districts, and more.)

Location targeting is based on various signals to serve ads to users who align with your location-targeting selections.

Location Targeting Options:

#1. City: Salt Lake City, Utah

#2. Country / Region: United States

#3. County: United Kingdom, Greater Manchester, Door County, Wisconsin, United States

#4. Department: Rhône, France

#5. District: Hannover, Germany, Lower Saxony

#6. DMA Regions (Designated Market Areas): Chicago, Illinois, Los Angeles, California

#7. Oblast: Smolensk, Russia

#8. Province: British Columbia, Canada

#9. State: Illinois, United States

#10. Urban District: Koeln, Germany

#2. Interest Targeting

Interest Targeting is a way of finding people based on their long period interests and interaction with content on TikTok.

Leveraging interest targeting is a powerful way to find a relevant audience for your ads.

There are two (2) types of Interest Targeting:

#1. Interest Categories

#2. Additional Interest

You can utilize these categories to define the audience you want to target. If you cannot find your fitting user interest in the Interest Categories, try typing it into the search box, and the system will pop up relevant interests.

#3. Behavior Targeting

Behavior Targeting allows you to deliver ads based on a user’s recent in-app behavior on TikTok. This can be an effective method to improve TikTok’s marketing campaign effectiveness.

Behavior targeting

While interest targeting focuses on a user’s long-term content contact or consumption, behavior targeting concentrates on a user’s recent interactions with content.

Here too there are two categories of behavior targeting:

#1. Video-related Actions: The video-related behavior that can be captured is limited to users` engagement (video completion, comment, like, share) with the organic video content in the last 7 or 15 days.

Based on users’ recent behavior, users will be linked with video tags, which are then provided as category alternatives under behavior targeting for advertisers when creating the campaigns.

#2. Creator Following Actions: there are 2 types of engagements under Creator Following Actions.

#1. Following: You can target users that follow specific types of creators.

#2. Viewed Homepage: You can target users who have viewed the profile pages of specific types of creators in the last 30 days.

Behavior Targeting is a powerful tool to test a hypothesis about your target audience. I encourage brands to leverage behavior targeting to help identify their audience when they start advertising on TikTok Ads Manager.

#4. TikTok Ads Audiences Targeting

Although TikTok offers multiple targeting options, choosing the correct TikTok ads audience targeting is the key to your ads campaign success because it can help you boost your ads’ performance.

The TikTok social media platform provides two ways to approach your audiences which are:

#1. Narrow Targeting: The system will find the perfect customers based on your specific targeting settings and show them your ads.

#2. Broad Targeting: The system will find the perfect customers based on no predefined criteria. Just leave the targeting options blank, and TikTok’s algorithm will assist you in linking your ads to potential customers.

#5. Custom Audience

Custom Audience is an ad targeting option that enables you to find people who already know about or have interacted with your brand in the past.

This type of targeting is a powerful tool for remarketing, reaching out to potential repeat customers, growing your following, boosting app engagement, and creating lookalike audiences.

There are 6 ways to create a Custom Audience:

#1.Customer file


#3. App activity

#4. Website Traffic

#5. Lead generation

#6.  Business account audience.

#6. TikTok Lookalike Audience

Lookalike Audiences help you in identifying people groups that share commonalities with your existing customers. It could help you find audiences interested in your brand and broaden your reach.

Lookalike audience

TikTok’s system will analyze the characteristics of the users from the Custom Audience type you chose – such as demographics, operating system, location, and interests.

Then, TikTok will look for other users and groups on the platforms who share similar characteristics.

The Lookalike Audience’s accuracy on TikTok depends on the audience you provide. So, to ensure the Lookalike Audience runs smoothly, the platform recommends using a source Custom Audience of at least 10K users. Ensure that the list and characteristics you provide are correct.

One more thing you have to consider is the option you select for Audience Size, either specific, narrow, or Broad. The more detailed the audience size, the more similar an audience the system will look for.


TikTok ads allow advertisers to target their campaigns to specific audiences by leveraging various ad targeting options.

It is critical to comprehend how these targeting options influence the outcome of your advertising campaigns.

Such knowledge will make you commit to always targeting your TikTok ads toward people who need to see the ads.

In this article, I have walked you through a smooth road on TikTok ad targeting and I strongly hope you know better about the various targeting options that TikTok offers.

Eugene Agoh

Eugene Agoh

Founder at AdsTargets | Online advertising expert | Search engine optimisation expert | Social media marketing expert.Eugene is a Passionate writer on topics relating to online advertising, branding and generally interested in creating digital marketing content. He is curious about the future of digital advertising.Follow Eugene on LinkedIn @ eugeneagoh

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