Understanding Why Your TikTok Ads Aren’t Working

TikTok advertising is known to be lucrative. Used by around 18% of adult internet users for an average of 20 hours per month, the platform holds massive potential for brands with the creative nous to reach their intended demographic. But… it doesn’t always work. You can build your account, stock your products, create a breath-taking campaign and then… Nothing. No conversions – not even any impressions. So, why might your TikTok ads not be spending, and what can you do?

What’s Going Wrong With your TikTok ads?

There are eight key reasons why TikTok ads might not be working for you.

  1. You’re Still in the Ad Learning Phase

Like most other digital platforms, TikTok has an ‘ad learning phase’. This is when the platform’s algorithms ‘learn’ about the performance of a new ad. So, while you might have launched your ad, TikTok is still collecting data about who best to show it to and optimising that performance loop. It can take time for stabilisation to happen, but this is usually a temporary delay.

  1. Problems with Targeting

Social media targeting isn’t as easy as all the platforms make out. Sure, they give you the tools and let you choose the demographics you think suit your brand, but targeting is a lot more complex, mainly if you are new to a platform. TikTok allows you to target your ads based on demographic, user behaviour, and user interest, which holds much promise. Still, it can be challenging to know if your parameters are too wide or too narrow to garner the best results. TikTok’s audience size barometer is helpful to get this right.

  1. Poor Bidding Strategy

On TikTok, ‘bidding’ refers to the amount you’re willing to spend to get your ads to achieve your desired goal, and this can be a tricky balancing act. No one wants to spend too much on social media ads, but if you don’t spend enough, your ads will never be seen, which will impact your performance. And to complicate matters further, poor-quality ads will always cost more to show. So, a good approach is to review your creatives and ensure that your content is not lacking in quality or style. If you’re confident your ads are the best they can be, head to your Ads Manager and review your bids. By changing from ‘Lowest Cost’ to ‘Cost Cap’ and incrementally increasing the number, you can ascertain the budget you’ll need to invest to get your ads to show.

  1. You’re Out of Cash

A sudden check of ad performance typically indicates that your account has run out of cash – whether because your bidding strategy is too high or your budget is too low. Unfortunately, any breach in the displaying of your ad can lead to a loss of traction with the TikTok algorithm, which means that once you’ve reinstated your budget, it can take a long time for performance to start building again. The best way to prevent this is, to begin with a sensible budget and to keep a close eye on both it and your performance.

  1. Incorrect Currency Selection

If you launch your ad using a different currency than that used by the country you’re targeting, you won’t gain your viewer’s interest. So, take care to make sure your currency selection aligns – and fix the problem in the TikTok Ads Manager if you make a mistake.

  1. You Haven’t Scheduled Your Ads Correctly

Your TikTok ad campaign will only run during the dates that you have selected, so you can’t expect any results outside of this time. If you notice a drop in performance and see the ‘Out of Schedule’ label on your ad, you need to check your run dates and either be patient or start again.

  1. There Are Problems With Your Creatives

Ad placement is managed by TikTok’s distribution algorithm, which is devised to promote the best possible user experience. This means that if you submit poor-quality ad content or you’ve used the wrong format or ad size, it’s not going to be shown, even if you bid high. So, look to your creatives before increasing your budget.

  1. Negative User Engagement

Not all publicity is good publicity. If something about your ads attracts negative user feedback, TikTok’s algorithm will withdraw it. And while it’s tempting just to turn off comments, to get the best results, you need to use your feedback, responding to comments to address the problems and using the experience to optimise your ads.

TikTok does hold masses of potential for any brand looking to enhance its profile and make sales, but it’s easy to make small mistakes that can have a massive impact on the success of your ad campaign. So, if you’re struggling, take a look at these eight areas, then put your very best advertising foot forward.


Edi Moraes, Media Buyer, Upbeat Agency