Google and TikTok are looking at developing a partnership that integrates Google search prompts, and potentially results, into TikTok’s search function – according to information published by Business Insider.
App researcher Radu Oncescu posted TikTok search result for “Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg” that showed a Google bar that encouraged users to continue their query on the search engine underneath the first video hits.
— Radu Oncescu (@oncescuradu) September 19, 2023
An unlikely partnership between TikTok and Google
According to Business Insider, TikTok confirmed that the bar isn’t an ad – and that it’s experimenting with a Google integration within the app.
“A TikTok spokesperson has confirmed that the company is experimenting with third-party integrations within the TikTok app, including a test with Google. The feature, which is being trialled globally across several different markets, is not an ad unit, the spokesperson said. A Google spokesperson said the company had nothing further to share and declined to comment on whether there was a financial agreement between the two companies as part of the partnership.”
How are TikTok and Instagram currently affecting Google?
The move comes as TikTok strengthens its position as a discovery tool. Back in July 2022, Google’s Senior Vice President admitted as much.
“In our studies, something like almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search. They go to TikTok or Instagram.”
Google has worked for decades to build the infrastructure needed to be a search and discovery platform, and is clearly threatened by the new generation’s way of finding information. The partnership, or potential partnership, is a clear nod to that.
Raghavan also said that Google needed to think of news way to go about its business, and we could be seeing the first iteration of that.
“We have to conjure up completely new expectations and that takes altogether new … technology underpinnings.”
Broadly, the move could have anti-trust implications. It’s currently facing a trial from the Justice Department regarding its search arm – and the rise of TikTok as a search destination could lend weight to its argument that it has competition. Of course, the fact that Google inserted itself into the app to act as the in-house search platform could work against it – although it’s too early to tell.
The business benefit for Google and TikTok
The Google partnership could help both companies. TikTok could get a boost via improved discovery in search engine results and Google could stay front-of-mind for a generation of people searching for stuff.
One potential downside could be Google helping TikTok to establish dominance over its own short-form video app, Shorts.
It does appear like Google has more to gain from a relationship like this, as it could help it maintain its grip on the search market by negating the rise of a potential competitor. Aside from increased discoverability in search (is this something it even needs?), there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot TikTok can gain from it.
An interesting move to say the least, and one to keep an eye on.