TikTok Targeting – What Have We Learned So Far?

Nobody needs convincing that targeting is one of the most important aspects of any marketing strategy, and by far – a key component of any campaign’s success.

Everything matters. The tiniest details that we tend to overlook can be the common characteristic of your typical customers, and thereafter – the cornerstone of your audience.

Luckily (or so we think now), TikTok is not the first social media platform, it didn’t need to reinvent the wheel, and therefore we wouldn’t need to adapt greatly to its targeting capabilities. Even if there were room for innovation in this respect, things are working out quite well for the moment, so we wouldn’t know we need something badly before that something gets actually discovered – much like sliced bread.

Okay, having reached my cliche quota for the day, I guess there is nothing left to do but to actually discuss TikTok Targeting.

TikTok’s Targeting Options are divided (and a tiny bit divisive – stay tuned) into 3 broad categories: Demographics, Device, Audience.

Let’s have a look at Demographics first.

Age – Smells like teen spirit. (I am so not done with the cliches…) Since the app is centered around younger generations’ interests and habits, it probably makes sense for the age groups to start with as little as 13.

Gender – So, there are only two genders; that you can choose from; on TikTok. Yours truly spent the past few hours being conflicted and anxious about whether to address this or not.

Never have I ever thought I will type out this sequence of words. TikTok, darling, did you mean: sex?

Language – While we clearly can’t target just any language we want, TikTok’s list is definitely getting more and more extensive.

Interests – Upon registration, users can choose their own interests which fall under the following categories: Comedy, Animals, Sports, Gaming,
Beauty & Style, Travel, Art, Talent, Daily Life, Food, Fashion Accessories, Tech, Pop Culture, Dance, DIY & Life Hacks, Oddly Satisfying, and Auto.

Of course, these are just preliminary categories for TikTok to figure out what content to serve to us first. After a while, it will learn our actual interests, and only those are the ones that will be subject to further ad targeting.

TikTok Targeting Interests

The Interests Option is further divided into two sections: Interest Targeting and Behaviour Targeting.

The main difference between them is that Interest Targeting is predicted by machine learning and Behaviour Targeting is based on user’s activity on the app.

See below the categories you can choose from when targeting by Interest and Behaviour.

Interest Targeting

Behaviour Targeting

Good to knows:

1. The “Behavior” categories only target users who have viewed videos in English or Japanese on TikTok.
2. When you select more than one interest, the target audience is composed of users that meet only one individual criterion, not users who meet all criteria.

In the table below, TikTok has outlined some more defining differences between Interest and Behaviour Targeting.

The Device category is neat, simple, and straightforward. See below:


TikTok’s audience model is quite similar to that of Facebook. You have your Custom Audiences, that are based on previous engagement of existing users with your brand, and Lookalike Audiences.

There are 4 types of Custom Audiences you can choose from:

  1. Customer File
    – Upload your own customer file (.csv/.txt/.zip format).
  2. Engagement
    – Target users who have engaged with your ad content across all of TikTok Ad’s family of apps.
    – We can select the type of engagement (clicks or impressions), time period, and Ad group ID (leaving the Ad group ID blank defaults to the account level).
  3. App Activity
    – Available events: Activate, Register, Purchase, 2D Retention, Checkout, Add to cart, and View content.
    – Third party tracking platform needed.
  4. Website Traffic
    – Available events: View Content, Click Button, Purchase, Form Submission, Consult, Start Trial, Contact.
    – Set-up TikTok Pixel.

The maximum time-frame you can pick is 180 days – quite standard. The good kind of standard.

Check out our little demo below.

Lookalike Audiences are not as granularly defined by TikTok as they are by its older sibling, Facebook. Namely, instead of 0-1%, 1-2% similarity levels, TikTok uses metrics like: Narrow, Balanced, Broad.

TikTok recommends the source size to be around 10,000 people to ensure that the model runs efficiently; while Facebook’s criterion is a minimum of 1,000 people.

So, this is a clear difference of approach between the platforms when drawing the outer lines of what they consider to be a well-defined audience.

In conclusion, we can not stress enough how important it is to know who your customers are (or should be) before you start making use of all these versatile targeting options that TikTok has put at our disposal.

Want to find out more? Get in touch with us today!