The Ultimate Guide to TikTok Video Formats

The Ultimate Guide to TikTok Video Formats

If you haven’t jumped on the TikTok video ad bandwagon yet, it’s high time you start using the popular platform to get a wide, engaged audience interested in your product. With over one billion active users each month who are mostly young, curious about new trends, and very engaged, TikTok provides unparalleled opportunities for raising brand awareness and reaching new customers. 

If you’re new to TikTok advertising, you’ll want to acquaint yourself with the basics first. What video ad formats does TikTok use and what technical specifications are required for each format? Where can they appear on the platform? What are the best practices for each video ad placement option? 

Read on to learn all there is to know about the TikTok video format. 

TikTok Video Formats’ Non-Negotiable Specs: Vertical Orientation and Sound On

Let’s start with specifications that are not open to choosing between different options. They are the video ad’s orientation and sound. 

Though you can upload a horizontal video, all TikTok content is vertically oriented and the platform rewards videos that organically blend with other user content. For the best results, always use vertical videos that you specifically created for TikTok. You can either create videos in TikTok or use some other video creation software that better suits your needs and upload your creative to TikTok.

The platform is all about sound and music, so sound is another must in your advertising. Some video formats (Branded Takeover) play without audio, but other formats have the option of including it and we suggest you always use it. Sound has a powerful effect on users, often catching their attention more quickly than the visuals. However, you should always include captions as well for users who are viewing TikTok without headphones.

It’s important to follow the recommended technical specifications for your video to ensure your viewers have a seamless viewing experience. 

SizeThe maximum video file size for upload is 500 MB for video ads. 
LengthDepending on the video format type, TikTok video ads can be from three to 60 seconds long. TikTok officially recommends videos to be 9-15 seconds long.
File typeTikTok supports the following video file types: .mp4, .mov, .mpeg, .3gp, .avi.
Aspect ratioThe recommended aspect ratio for all TikTok video format types is 9:16, though TikTok also supports 1:1 and 16:9. 


The recommended video dimensions are 1080 x 1920.

Five Main TikTok Video Formats

Brands and advertisers use the following TikTok video formats for their campaigns: In-Feed, TopView, Brand Takeover, Branded Effects, and Branded Hashtag Challenge. 


In-feed video ads are full-screen videos set to auto-play with the sound on in the users’ personalized feeds on the For You page. They blend naturally with the rest of the content. They can be 60 seconds long, but TikTok recommends sticking to 9-15 second video length and to create engaging intro in the first few seconds of the ad to grasp the viewers’ attention. 

This type of TikTok video supports brief descriptions (12-100 words), CTAs, and user engagement including likes, shares, and reusing video content. They are a popular advertising option for user engagement because they are affordable, allow a lot of creativity, and are able to reach a wide audience. 


Three seconds after a user opens their TikTok, a full-screen video appears in the top part of their For You page. That’s a TopView video ad. They have similar specifications like In-Feed videos: up to 60 seconds long, with sound and auto-play on, and allowing user engagement. Unlike In-Feeds, they have a better placement, guarantee more impressions, and they are more expensive. 

Brand Takeover

This is another “in your face” TikTok video format that appears as a full-screen video when a user opens the platform. They are the shortest formats (3-5 seconds) and require great skill in presenting the main points of the ad in such a short time, without frustrating the users. A viewer can only see one Brand Takeover video per day. However, the same video can later appear as an In-Feed ad.

The entire ad is clickable, so it guarantees a lot of traffic to the landing page. That convenience comes with a hefty price tag, which makes this TikTok video format attractive only to big brands who can afford it. 

Branded Takeover doesn’t support sound or in-video text descriptions. 

Branded Effects

Not exactly a video format, Branded Effects is a suite of customizable 2D, 3D, and augmented reality stickers and filters that TikTok users can use to create their own content. 

Advertisers who use Branded Effects encourage viewers to engage with their content and get to know their brand in a fun, playful way. This ad format is great for raising brand awareness. It can be used as an independent campaign or as part of a Branded Hashtag Challenge.  

Branded Hashtag Challenge

This is another TikTok video format for raising brand awareness and user engagement. The brands organize a challenge where they invite users to videotape themselves doing a task from the challenge and upload the video with a set hashtag. TikTok places the ad banner for the challenge on their Discover page for six days, during which the users can participate and engage with the brand. Videos that invite users to participate appear in the For You feeds. 

Now that you know the basic TikTok video format requirements, learn some useful tricks for creating effective TikTok videos for your business.

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