TikTok is an excellent platform for advertising – it has an enormous user base, a great set of tools for ad placement, trends that can maximize exposure and creators you can pair up with. However, TikTok also has strict Ad Policy and guidelines. For businesses that are just starting out, the policy can be difficult to grasp and they may end up with rejected ads. To help you navigate the guidelines more easily, we’ve created a handy breakdown of the policy.
TikTok Ad Review – What’s reviewed and what’s the process?
When you create a TikTok ad, it obviously doesn’t deploy right away. It needs to be reviewed by the platform.
TikTok reviews the following elements:
- Advertised products/services – not all products and services can be advertised
- Ad creative – text (caption), visual and audio content, additional content
- Targeting region – currency, language, age, etc.
Here’s how the review works:
- The ad is submitted through TikTok Ad Manager
- Creative is evaluated to check if it adheres to the policy
- A notification is sent when the ad is approved, which usually happens within 24 hours
- In case of rejection, the advertiser will be notified of what can be improved, through the Ad Group section of the Ad Manager
Note that certain products and services, or industries, are prohibited and will be rejected straight away. These may depend on the region but on the global level include weapons, drugs and paraphernalia, animals and animal products, and adult sexual products and services.
Ad Creative – What to know
When it comes to the actual ad creative, the first aspect that is examined is the ad format and its functionality.
The ad creative must be consistent with the landing page it leads to. What you advertise on TikTok must be the same as what you’re selling on your landing page, but also the caption, product/service name and other details need to be consistent as well.
Take time to make sure your landing page is working properly, too. The page needs to be active and functional. TikTok will also check the landing page for things like prohibited content, asking for personal info, lacking required info, intrusive pop-ups, etc.
Ad text and image
The ad text should be legible, complete, free of spelling or grammar mistakes and typos.
The image should be sharp, properly aligned, without strobing effects, and it should not be fixed for longer than 5 seconds.
Ad Content – What’s prohibited?
Note that restrictions don’t apply just to the product or service you’re advertising, but to the ad content itself. Certain things are strictly prohibited and including them in your ad creative will surely result in a rejected ad.
1. Discriminatory content
If your ad can be interpreted as discriminatory against any of the following categories, it will be rejected:
- Ethnicity and nationality
- Sexual orientation and gender identity
- Medical condition
- Family status
2. Sexual and adult content
Products/services and content that are strictly not allowed include:
- Adult products
- Sexually suggestive products
- Sexually explicit lyrics
- Excessive nudity
- Sexual innuendo
- Focus on intimate body parts
3. Misleading claims
This is the part where advertisers really need to be careful not to make:
- Absolute or exaggerated claims and promises
- Malicious comparisons to other brands
- Before/After comparisons
- Inconsistent or misleading information about the product
- Induced gestures or text
- Invalid buttons
4. Sensational and/or shocking content
This is a category that can be a bit tricky since shocking and disgusting are subjective categories. The best practice is to avoid showing content that can be off-putting to some users or a group of users, for instance bodily fluids and products like earwax, dandruff, scabs, acne, etc.
Gruesome imagery and blood must not exceed 50% of the frame duration.
Things like crime, violence and cruelty to people and animals, including animal testing, are prohibited.
The ad creative must not show:
- Controlled substances
- Drug use
- Drug paraphernalia and accessories
6. Cigarettes and tobacco
As tobacco industry is generally banned from advertising, promotion and sponsorship, the ad must not include:
- Cigarettes and cigars
- Pipes and rolling papers
- E-cigarettes, vapes, etc
- Smoking, imitating smoking or smoking-related behavior
Similarly to tobacco, alcohol-related content is prohibited and this includes:
- Depictions of excessive drinking or alcoholism
- Alcohol brand names
- Real-life drinking scenes
Content that includes background alcohol or moderate consumption, e.g. glasses of wine or other alcohol somewhere in the video, may not be prohibited automatically, and will instead be evaluated to verify whether it promotes alcohol or not.
8. Political content
Political content, solicitation and promotion are generally prohibited on TikTok, as it aims to remain a neutral, non-politicized platform. Ad creatives must not include:
- Candidates for public office
- Political parties
- Political leaders (current or former)
- Political organizations
- Issues of public or political importance on local, state and federal level
Restricted ad content
While the content on the prohibited list must be avoided altogether as it will result in ad rejection or even a ban, restricted content can be allowed on a limited basis, such as age restriction, certification, etc.
While gaming itself is not prohibited, some of its aspects are:
- Games for children
- Tools and plug-ins for cheating
- Cash-earning games and real-life rewards
- Love stories
- Games featuring torture and cruelty as the main gameplay feature
2. Healthcare and pharmaceutical
Ads that promote healthcare or pharmaceutical products and services must adhere to the following:
- Legal compliance with local law
- Aiming at 18+ audience
- Not containing misleading or inaccurate claims
- Having proof of licensing
3. Financial services
When it comes to financial products and services, TikTok applies three categories:
- Allowed: bank accounts, debit cards, insurance, budgeting products
- Restricted (18+): Loans, credit cards, debt consolidation
- Prohibited: Bail bonds, debt relief or credit repair
In addition, all industry-related ads must only target an 18+ audience, with proper disclaimers, and strictly adhere to applicable industry requirements, laws, regulations and licensing.
4. Cryptocurrency and NFTs
Brands working in crypto and NFT industries must not place ads that promote:
- Initial coin offering
- Devices for mining cryptocurrency
- Crypto ATMs
- NFT trading
5. Gambling and lottery
Ads promoting the following activities, products and services are not allowed:
- Real money online gambling
- Simulated gambling featuring real money
- Gambling-related behavior
- Sports bets and horse racing
- Lotteries with real money
6. Religion and culture
Being a rather sensitive field, ad creators and advertisers should be careful when creating ads that refer to religious or cultural aspects. The ads must not contain:
- Disrespectful behavior towards religious symbols, objects, buildings, etc
- Content that violates local culture in the targeted region
7. Protection of minors
The age restriction for TikTok users is 13+, and there are a lot of minors on the platform. The ads containing the following will be rejected:
- Minors engaging in inappropriate behavior (smoking, alcohol abuse, etc)
- Excessive skin exposure of minors
- Products of particular appeal to minors (toys, gaming, etc)
- Minors performing in restricted industries
8. Weight control and body image
Healthy workout programs, content promoting a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating are okay, but the following ads are prohibited:
- Ads making promises and absolute guarantees about weight loss
- Ads targeting minors or promoting unhealthy choices
- Ads suggesting that losing or gaining weight is easy
- Specific calories or weight loss amounts
- Promoting unhealthy or negative body image
- Exploitation of body-related insecurities
- Skin lightening products
- Insulting or offensive messages
Ads containing positive and constructive behavior towards the pandemic are allowed, such as masks and good hygiene practices. However, it is not allowed to:
- Make absolute claims regarding efficiency in protection or treatment of COVID-19.
- Spread misinformation or create consumer anxiety
- Provide medical advice or treatment plans
- Sell “medical-grade” masks
TikTok Intellectual Property infringement
It might be tempting to use the fact your ad and your product are doing well on TikTok, but brands need to be careful not to violate the platform’s IP (Intellectual Property) rights. So, even if you have a “TikTok bestseller,” you can’t really say that in your ad creative or landing page. Of course, infringement of any other brand’s IP rights is prohibited, too.
The following is strictly prohibited:
- Ads using TikTok logos
- Any claims that imply a partnership with TikTok
- 3rd party logos in the background
- Promotion or sale of counterfeit logos
Now, bear in mind that these are just rough guidelines and TikTok Ads Policy elements. There are universal guidelines, but also those that are applicable only in specific regions. Furthermore, some confusion is not uncommon when it comes to industries that belong to the restricted, rather than the prohibited list.
The best way to guarantee optimal performance of your ads and to avoid having them rejected time and again is to team up with industry experts who possess an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the TikTok Ads Policy. The GrowMojo team of TikTok marketing experts is at your disposal – reach out to us and let us craft a tailored ad strategy that meets all the guidelines, ticks all the boxes with the audience and promotes your growth.