Using audience features to power up ad performance


Using audience features to power up ad performance

February 4, 2021

TikTok For Business, Editorial Team

Best Practices

Many digital marketers know this feeling: sometimes your ads can hit a roadbump and performance drops, or costs start to stray off-target. It could be that audiences are getting tired of seeing the same ads, or that there aren't enough creative variations to keep them interested. Testing different audience features can be an incredibly powerful and cost-effective way to get the most out of your campaign, especially if your resources are limited.

In this article we'll look at two real-life examples where TikTok's Client Solutions team helped to troubleshoot ad performance issues using audience optimization.

Case study 1: Making creative work smarter

A clothing brand running ads on TikTok's auction platform found that its campaign spend was dropping each day until only a small portion of the daily budget was being spent. Our analysis found that this was likely due to audience fatigue, as the campaign was using only a single creative and therefore over-serving audiences with the same ad.
The brand was unable to supply new creatives at the time, so TikTok's Client Solutions Team suggested audience optimization measures as a work-around solution. The original ad group was put on pause in favour of three new ad groups:

1. Refreshed core audience

First, we targeted the same audience as the original ad group. Since the original ad group was paused, this allows us to keep exploring by showing the same ad to a new core audience with the same features.

2. Under-exposed audience

The second ad group targeted the same audience as the first, but excluded a custom audience of those who had already received impressions from the original ad group. This allowed us to re-engage those who had not been exposed in the original ad group.

3. Lookalike audience

The third new ad group targeted a broad lookalike audience of those who had clicked on the ad in the original ad group. This enabled us to target an audience similar to those who had already taken a qualified action.


The campaign resumed full spending, and performance increased across key metrics: video views increased 20% and click-through rate grew 17%, while cost per thousand reach dropped by 18%.

Ad performance was increased by adjusting audience features

Case study 2: Stabilizing cost performance

A health and nutrition app was using auction ads on TikTok to drive user installs and in-app purchases. Over time, they saw that the cost per install was increasing day by day, reaching up to 20% above target. We concluded that the ad creatives had been used for too long, causing audience fatigue through repetition.
TikTok worked closely with the agency on performance-based optimizations to help stabilize costs. We advised that they pause the original ad group, and launch the new ad groups using the following strategies to optimize towards audiences:

1. Custom audiences

By having the client upload a list of existing app users, we were able to set up a custom audience and exclude these users from ad groups where the objective wasInstall, while targeting them in ad groups aimed at increasing in-app purchases.

2. Lookalike audience

Next, we set up a broad lookalike audience based on existing app users who had made in-app purchases. This allowed us to target an audience similar to those who made a qualified action.


To ensure the most effective creative and copy were being used, we also suggested setting up 2-3 ad groups using the Automatic Creative Optimization tool. This tests multiple creative, copy and call-to-action combinations to see what performs best with audiences. In addition we used TikTok's App Event Optimization, which allows app advertisers to more efficiently acquire users who have a greater chance of taking a specific action, such as register or make an in-app purchase. This advanced bidding method helped to achieve more installs and purchases while keeping costs under control.
As a result, app installs dropped to to 5-10% below target cost. These optimizations also led to a 20% increase in clickthrough rate and 10% lift in conversion rate.

Cost performance stabilized and ad performance increased

Audience optimization tips:

  • Start your campaign with broad, interest-based audiences to capture a wide enough target pool of engaged users.
  • Try different audience segmentations and Custom Audience features. TikTok's Split Testing tool lets you A/B test results across different audience groups and then hone in on those with best results.
  • During your ad group's Learning Phase, add a 20% buffer to your bid - this allows more scope for the system to test and learn what will work best for your campaign. Don't panic if the cost increases during this period - it will stabilize over time!
  • Once you've identified a more engaged audience through testing, you can adjust to more precise targeting, and optimize for lower-funnel objectives - this allows qualified audiences to perform mid- to lower-funnel behaviours. If you're advertising an app, this is a great time to start using App Event Optimization, as it allows you to target specific in-app actions.

While audience optimizations can help to fine-tune performance, always remember that creative is key - and this is especially true on TikTok, where creativity is what fuels our communities. Keep your audience interested by having at least 3-6 creatives for your campaign, and aim to refresh creative every 1-2 weeks.
If that sounds like a lot of work, it doesn't have to be! Our free Video Template tool makes ad creative a breeze. And remember, the TikTok community celebrates real and authentic over polished and perfect. In fact, many great TikTok campaigns have featured DIY videos that cost nothing to make! For inspiration, check out our 9 creative tips for auction ad performance, and these recent insights from our partner VidMob about what makes ad creative perform best. You can also head over to ourInspiration page to see how brands using auction ads have been creative about creative!
Ready to aim for your target? Learn more about audience features in our Business Help Center.


If you'd like guidance from the Client Solutions Managers behind these real-life solutions, you can scan the QR codes below to contact the authors directly.

Contact the authors to learn more about these case studies
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