TikTok is now a big search tool which means bigger search ads

Not yet a big player in the artificial intelligence-powered search field, TikTok is quietly preparing a big search advertising play of its own along the likes of giants like Google and Microsoft. TikTok’s search market is valued at $112 billion this year. 

TikTok launched search ads on an invite-only basis only a year ago however it was a passive affair. More recently, sources say that TikTok is pitching the product more often and one of the people said that it’s asking advertisers to participate in case studies, which are often used to validate new products. 

Another indication that TikTok are casting a wider rollout of its search ad product are its recent job posts looking for search ads engineers to develop a “large-scale ads system. 

In my opinion, Shamsul Chowdhury, EVP of paid social at the ad agency Jellyfish, makes the most relevant point. He notes that it is “inevitable” this will happen by the third quarter of this year, which will give TikTok time to understand search trends before the heavy fourth-quarter spending period.
“Gen Z is using TikTok for search at a similar rate as they use Google,” Chowdury said. “If TikTok can capitalise on that usage for advertisers, it could mean a huge revenue boost.” 

Further insights come from Brendan Gahan, partner and chief social officer of the ad agency Mekanism who reminds us that “TikTok is taking this seriously […] they can actually generate a whole new ad revenue stream.”

According to a recent sales pitch deck, TikTok describes its search ad format as “a new entryway into the familiar user-created content and community experience.”

Unlike Google or Microsoft, TikTok uses scenery, images, voice-to-text, captions, and keywords that appear on its green screen effect to choose which ads to show. By contrast, more traditional search engines look at the title, descriptions, and tags on a video. 

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