TikTok is up to its old tricks again and is looking at new ways to undermine the existing internet power structures by testing a new search offering.
The search ads will provide a new way for advertisers to reach TikTok users via the things that they’re organically searching for, such as ‘quick meal ideas’ or ‘how to clean a carpet’.
How does TikTok search ads work?
It appears as if TikTok’s search ads will appear in the Discover section, above the “others search for” panel and will be labelled with a “sponsored” tag. The good news for marketers is that their ads will generally appear within the first four search results and could be a brilliant way to reach users with high interest in your product.
Advertisers shouldn’t take long to get their heads around the system. Just like with Google ads, TikTok’s search ads will let advertisers bid on keywords and phrases, although TikTok may be able to offer personalised options that Google can’t. For example, you could target a TikTok advert based on data such as behaviours, interests and demographics – which isn’t always available on other search platforms.
According to a TikTok sales deck seen by Business Insider, advertisers worried about brand safety can set a list of negative keywords to make sure ads don’t appear next to content that could cause reputational damage.
TikTok Discover – where users go to search
TikTok Discover is a page that’s designed to help users “search and explore the wide variety of content in the TikTok community.”
“In this feed you’ll find trending videos, hashtags, creators, and sponsored content.”
The Discover page is easy to find. Simply tag Discover at the bottom of your screen and use the search bar to find what you want.
Searching for new content is also simple:
- Tap the search icon on the top-right hand side of the screen.
- Type what you’d like to search for in the search bar.
- The most relevant results will show up in the top tab.
- Scroll through other results by going to users, videos, sounds, LIVE and hashtags tab.
A shift in search demographics
The news that TikTok is going to break into search should worry Google head honchos. Search habits amongst younger users are changing – “almost 40% of people searching for a lunch spot would do so on TikTok or Instagram rather than Google”, says Prabhar Raghavan, svp for Google’s knowledge and information division, said last year.
TikTok would also provide businesses with a way to target younger, more engaged users. Gen Z and millennials are difficult to reach via the usual channels, and this could open a fresh way to capture interest from those two groups.
A new way of targeting
Ad targeting will be different for TikTok search. TikTok will use images, voice-to-text, captions and keywords that appear on a green screen to choose which ads to show to who. Traditional search engines would only look at tags, descriptions and titles of videos.
Time to dust out some new ad formats
It’s important to remember that this is TikTok, so your advert needs to be a video – which may cause some advertisers to go back to the drawing board as that Display ad can’t be repurposed for TikTok.
Your new videos could aim to solve problems. If you’re a brand that sells tea, you could make a range of videos with titles such as:
- How to use tea to solve ___.
- How to make the perfect cup of ___ tea.
Marketers may have to start thinking of TikTok video ads as advertorials rather than traditional search ads.
A search ad… ad? What does it mean
TikTok recently showed off the potential power of search on TikTok with a 60-second advert in the UK. In the advert, a son and daughter take to the app to furnish and set up a new home. Everything from #BookTok to practical carpet cleaning tips are featured – with the pair looking incredibly impressed at TikTok’s powers of recommendation.
The advert shows that TikTok is serious about harnessing its powers of search – and showing that it can do it better than traditional giants such as Google in the process.
Search is here and it won’t be long until search ads are too.