TikTok is continuing to push towards positioning itself as a social media platform and a search engine. According to a recent report from Business Insider, Google and TikTok are in the middle of a potential partnership that would combine Google search prompts and results into TikTok’s search capability.
Testing has started, and it looks like a new prompt with a CTA for users to expand their search on Google from TikTok’s search results page.
It’s an interesting idea that could potentially help tie discovery on TikTok with more intent-based results on Google and show more of a full picture consumer journey.
It also raises some questions for the platforms and the advertisers using them, which I’ll address here.
Are there any caveats for TikTok?
Google’s been alllll over the news lately for antitrust lawsuits, which have eroded its reputation as a trusted business partner for advertisers and other platforms. So is TikTok setting itself up for any unintended consequences here?
I don’t think there’s any real danger for TikTok beyond users possibly going off their platform to convert. But if TikTok is smart and forges a real “partnership” with Google, they’d work out some type of attribution to be able to see how many users search on TikTok, then expand their search to Google, then convert.
What’s TikTok’s motivation for this partnership?
TikTok has an extremely unique niche as a social platform that’s become the search engine of choice for younger demographics. Like most social platforms, it was built to fuel discovery, education, and engagement, but user behavior showed a possibly unanticipated dimension of intent. A partnership with Google gives TikTok a more robust way to engage people actively looking for something on the platform.
Google’s search ad format is much more developed and mature; advertisers can add headlines, descriptions, and assets to take up as much real estate as possible. Right now, TikTok’s search interface is much more limited until you click into what you’re looking for, and its keyword targeting capability doesn’t touch Google’s.
What’s Google’s motivation for this partnership?
Google has been concerned for some time about TikTok’s grip on a highly engaged and loyal younger audience; this is a great way for them to access it while respecting their preference for the TikTok platform (instead of relying on the copycat YouTube Shorts to draw them). If Google can get exposure to the highly active base of younger users and lure them to their platform, that’s a huge win.
This is one of the developments we’ll keep a close eye on at JDM, particularly through the lenses of user behavior and attribution. If you’d like to chat about this or other shifts in the digital marketing landscape, drop us a line.