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TikTok Enters Search Ad Land

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TikTok Enters Search Ad Land

There are reports of TikTok planning to enter the highly competitive search ads market by launching its own search ads platform. This is big news in the advertising world, as once implemented, it will give marketers the opportunity to bid on keywords for their products and services, putting TikTok in direct competition with both Google and Microsoft.

This news follows a beta period of the platform, which allowed advertisers to implement their most successful search terms for conversions and click-through-rates, and use them as headlines for their best-performing TikTok videos.

With the possibility of a TikTok ad platform, what do these new developments mean for both advertisers, marketers and consumers alike, and how can they be leveraged for maximum opportunity?

A Rapidly Growing Platform

TikTok is used by 30.5% of the world’s Internet users, equating to over 1.53 billion users as of January 2023, making it the 6th most popular social media platform in the world. It is also one of the fastest growing platforms, being the most downloaded app in 2022, with 672 million downloads globally.

As a platform, TikTok presents a massive and constantly growing user base for advertisers and marketers, especially within the Gen Z and Millennial demographics. This is particularly important, as these audiences are notoriously difficult to reach through traditional advertising, though these younger audiences also tend to be more active and engaged with their platforms of choice – presenting a powerful audience segment for brands that can successfully engage them.

TikTok as a Search Engine

Among it’s target audience, TikTok has already established itself as somewhat of a search engine amongst younger users. Research from July 2022 found that nearly 40% of consumers between the ages of 18 – 24 were already using platforms like TikTok and Instagram to access information, with these platforms being the first step on many younger users discovery path, meaning many within this demographic no longer start their customer journey on Google.

While this positions TikTok as a more direct competitor to Google, it is also important to recognise that TikTok users are not yet familiar or necessarily comfortable with seeing search ads on the platform. There is a risk that poor implementation could result in these users feeling bombarded by ads, decreasing the quality of the user experience and ultimately becoming less engaged with the platform.

With TikTok already cemented as the go-to for many younger audiences, it is understandable that it is looking for ways to monetise and harness that consumer interest. There are reports of TikTok experimenting with using scenery, images, keywords and voice-to-text captions to pair search terms and ads together, capitalising on the interactive features that drive audiences to the platform.

Opportunities for Advertisers

Given the abundance of features TikTok is experimenting with, this opens up the possibility of new and interesting ways for advertisers and marketers to target and engage with their audience, and may even allow for a greater degree of precision in highly targeted and relevant ads.

The marketing and advertising industries are already tuned into the possibilities that TikTok presents as a platform, and we are seeing more marketing budget being diverted into TikTok-based campaigns. If TikTok is able to implement search successfully into its platform, this presents yet another opportunity to create integrated TikTok campaigns that maximise the return on investment.

However, even with the possibility of these distinctive features, it is hard to argue that Google is still the top dog when it comes to search advertising. Google are already investing in more unique and eye-catching ad listings, utilising dynamic elements such as maps and images designed to compete with TikTok’s interactive searches.

Bridging the Gap between
Google and TikTok

Ultimately, while promising, TikTok will have to implement its search offering in a unique and compelling way if it hopes to divert advertisers away from Google. This could mean attractive features and price points, as well as a way to more directly interact with Gen Z and Millennial audiences.

From a marketing perspective, more closely integrating Google Search and TikTok search buying teams is key. Working closely together to gather search data from both platform enables to ability to generate more detailed insights which can then be adapted based on the channels and audiences being targeted, enabling advertisers to get more bang for their buck when it comes to search.

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