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2024 TikTok Ads Targeting Options to Reach Your Ideal Customers

how to find the target audience for your tiktok ads

For any advertising campaign, success hinges on identifying the target audience, and TikTok Ads are no exception. TikTok Ads Targeting options are effective tools to ensure your TikTok ads reach the ideal audiences. So, what are the TikTok Ads Targeting options? How to make the best of targeting options to maximize your TikTok ads revenue? All of your concerns will be answered below!

What is TikTok Ads Targeting?

TikTok Ad targeting is a series of ads targeting options to identify what your potential customers look like. As a result, you’re more likely to reach consumers who are interested in your products and services. Before, TikTok gave advertisers a choice between Custom and Automatic targeting. However, in the latest November 2023 update, all TikTok ads will now automatically use broad targeting optimizations. This change is actually advantageous as according to TikTok, broad targeting can reduce the cost per acquisition by 15% and boost the conversion rate by 20%.

Even though TikTok suggests and finds value in automatic targeting, there are situations where manual targeting is necessary. This might be for focusing on a particular location or the spending ability of your audience. It’s crucial to understand all the available targeting options to enhance the effectiveness of TikTok targeting. TikTok Ads Manager currently offers five ad targeting options:

  • Demographic
  • Audience
  • Interests & Behaviors
  • Device
  • Smart options

Demographics targeting

Since 2023, TikTok has updated more options in demographics targeting, making a total of 5 demographics targeting options: gender, language, age, location, household income, and spending power. Each targeting filter has a more specific range of categorization options for brands to choose exactly the types of demographics they need.

  • Gender: Male/Female
  • Language: Based on the audience’s app language.
  • Age: 13-17, 18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55+
  • Location: Targeting potential customers in specific locations including cities, countries, regions, counties, departments, districts, DMA Regions, oblast, provinces, states, and urban communities. However, only US citizens can have the option of selecting Country/Region, State/Province, City, and Designated Market Area/DMA.
  • Spending power: Deliver ads to users based on the user’s purchase behavior through TikTok ads
TikTok ads demographic targeting
Demographics option

These 4 first filters are the building blocks of demographic targeting. Therefore, remember to assess your products and target market before filling in these fundamental details. This will ensure that the demographics that you choose are suitable. In addition, if your target market is more niche or high-end, the last targeting option can be extremely helpful.

For instance, if you’re advertising high-end jewelry, it’s smarter to target those with more spending power.

Audience targeting

TikTok ads audience targeting remains a crucial factor to your campaign success as it helps you improve your ads’ performance. This section is optional on TikTok, and the platform even suggests skipping it. This allows TikTok’s system to identify the best audience for you freely. However, if you’ve confirmed that narrow targeting works better, just fill in the Include and Excluded sections provided by TikTok Ads Manager.

  • Include: When you fill in the Include section, you’re telling TikTok to include the traits of your previous Lookalike or Custom Audience. This data is what you get from your customer file, engagement history, app activity, and so on.
  • Excluded: In contrast with Include, choosing Exclude means that you’re asking TikTok to leave out the characteristics of your Lookalike or Custom Audiences.

Now, let’s check out the two options to help TikTok narrow down your target audience:

Audience targeting options on TikTok ads

Custom Audience

This type of targeting is beneficial for re-targeting purposes, particularly when you wish to re-engage similar customer profiles that have given you conversion before. Furthermore, it allows you to increase your following, increase app engagement, or create lookalike audiences. There are six ways to create a Custom Audience:

  • Customer file
  • Engagement
  • App activity
  • Website traffic
  • Lead generation
  • Business account audience.

You can watch the instructions from TikTok Business Center to understand how it operates: 

Lookalike Audience

Lookalike Audience is a powerful tool that helps businesses find potential customers with similar attributes to their existing customer base. Particularly, by analyzing data like age, location, and interests, the tool can expand your audience reach and increase your chances of finding interested buyers. To generate accurate results, you need to have a source audience of at least 10,000 people and provide precise information about your audience. It’s also essential to choose the right audience size option, which can be Specific, Balanced, or Broad.

  • Choose the Specific option if you want the tool to find people who are very similar to your existing customers,
  • Choose the Broad option if you want to cast a wider net and find more people who might be interested in your product.

Here is a complete guide from TikTok Business Center to help you get started with this feature: 

Interests & Behaviors targeting

TikTok Interest & Behavior targeting allows advertisers to find your potential customers depending on what they are most interested in and how they interact with TikTok content. It’s divided into 5 main interests and behaviors categories, including:

  • Interests: Identify your audience based on the types of content they frequently watch or choose to watch.
  • Purchase intention: Show ads to users actively researching or buying a specific product or service. To access Purchase Intent, choose conversion advertising objectives like App promotion, Lead generation, or Website conversions.
  • Video Interactions: Record users’ interactions with video content of a chosen topic from the last 7 or 15 days (video completion, likes, comments, and shares).
  • Creator Interactions: Filter users who have followed or viewed profiles in a specific category, giving you a better chance to connect with a relevant audience for your business.
  • Hashtag Interactions: Using hashtags is an easy way for the audience to find your content since they can easily find your brand based on specific hashtags. When clicking on “Hashtag interactions“, you can see that TikTok already provides popular hashtag bundles for you to target.
Interest categories

TikTok divides the interest targeting list into sub-categories and calculates the audience size, making it easier to reach your chosen audience. However, if you can’t find any category to choose, just type in your desired interests in the search bar.

Device targeting

If most, or all of your target audience happens to be using a special device or device setting, you can also adjust the Device targeting option to serve your needs. TikTok provides 6 device targeting options that cover most of the device settings:

  • Operating system (OS) versions: As the name suggests, it is a list of versions based on your selected operating system.
  • Device model: This option also varies based on your OS options. For example, if you choose Android, TikTok will suggest a list of Android software devices for you, such as Google, HUAWEI, Lenovo, LG, etc.
  • Connection type: WIFI, 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G
  • Carriers: Deliver ads to users based on their mobile phone carriers. As each country has its own mobile phone carriers, the suggested options will differ from country to country.
  • Internet service provider (ISP): Deliver ads to users based on their most frequently used ISPs in the past 30 days. Similar to the carriers targeting, the ISP targeting option will also differ from country to country.
  • Device price: You can also target users based on the price of their devices. You can either select Any price or go with a specific range of your choice.
Device targeting

Smart TikTok ads targeting options

In addition to the regular targeting we talked about earlier, TikTok also offers some clever targeting options to boost your results and save you time. Let’s check out these three smart targeting options to supercharge your ad performance:

Targeting recommendation

Targeting recommendations are an effective tool for advertisers to reach their desired audience through ads. By evaluating and analyzing the performance of similar ad groups and your current ads, you can identify suggested Interests & Behaviors categories that are relevant to your brand and apply them accordingly.

Setting up this feature is super easy. In “Recommended categories” under Interest & Behaviors, click “Show all” to reveal all of TikTok’s interest suggestions based on your industry. It’s important to note that the first recommendation will have the widest reach with a large available audience, and the audience size will decrease as the choices become more specific.

Targeting recommendation

Smart targeting

To enhance your ad results, TikTok offers Smart targeting options, including Smart audience and Smart Interest & behavior. This can be considered as the updated version of Targeting Expansion. When activated, TikTok launches the ad with your precise targeting and then fine-tunes the performance by broadening the targeting for better results.

To turn on Smart targeting, make sure that you’ve already selected at least one targeting selection. Smart targeting is available for auction bidding and advertising objectives like traffic, web conversion, community interaction, lead generation, and app installation. However, if you place your ads via Global App Bundle or Pangle, these options won’t show up.

smart targeting step 1

TikTok Ads targeting options: Common issues & How to solve

Mastering TikTok Ads targeting is crucial for running effective ads on the platform. While it may seem simple, our clients still often encounter various issues. So, to ensure a seamless experience with TikTok targeting, let’s explore common problems faced and simple solutions for them.

My audience is too narrow and is generating zero revenue 

Solution #1: Aim broad by expanding your Location options 

Start broad (Location Targeting only) to allow the platform to explore the audiences that would work best for your campaigns. When TikTok determines that your audience is wide-ranging, it will show its assessment on the screen so you can be aware.

broad audience size

Solution #2: Analyze the segments by identifying the trending interests and behavior. 

Understanding the trend behind the users’ interest and behavior can help you execute Interest & Behavior targeting more efficiently. It is also recommended that at least 15 interest and/or behavior categories are added to make sure your ad can reach a large audience. 

Solution #3: Finetune your targeting if necessary

To optimize your advertising campaign, consider creating a separate ad group for your best-performing interest/behavior tags. You can allocate a higher budget to this ad group to increase the chances of reaching your target audience effectively. Otherwise, if you are still in doubt, you can consider campaign budget optimization (CBO) to automatically optimize toward the best-performing ad group. 

I failed to retarget my audience from older campaigns

Solution: Make sure your custom audience is made relevant and current, and rebuild if necessary 

TikTok’s audience collection is limited to 180 days, after which the audience will gradually decay and become ineffective for campaign targeting purposes. That’s why you need to ensure that any custom audiences are created and activated after the campaign ends, within 180 days (6 months) with auto refresh switched off.

I am uncertain about the performance of my ad

Solution: Split Test

If you are a small business with a limited budget, targeting a broad audience can be a costly and worrisome approach. This is when a split test comes to save you! A split test, or A/B testing, lets you test two ad versions and optimize future campaigns by identifying the better-performing ad. To utilize this feature, there are some notices that you should keep in mind: 

  • To ensure effective testing, you should establish a proper framework and clearly define the hypothesis or question you intend to answer through the test. 
  • When a winning ad group is identified with a confidence level of 90% or higher, it means that the chances of obtaining the same results in a repeated test are also at 90%. Hence, you can use this result for future campaign targeting. 

You can watch the video below to understand the process behind setting up a split test:

Set up a split test in TikTok Ads Manager

It’s time to find the right audiences on TikTok!

Finding your target audience for your TikTok Ads is easier than ever with the support of Ad Targeting. If used properly, it can deliver your products and services to the right users as fast as possible. In addition, including this function in your marketing campaign will broaden your brand reach and drive fantastic results.

Want to run your TikTok ads campaign effectively with smart audience recommendations, the right strategy, and dedicated support from experts? It’s time to try NestAds – our all-in-one TikTok ads management software, tailored-made for your e-commerce. With NestAds, you can easily analyze your TikTok ads performance and conduct in-depth targeting by using our report and custom & lookalike audience tools. No need to go further than your store – you can manage everything in just one NestAds platform!


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