Other Technology | September 28, 2023
TikTok faced a ban in Montana, United States, in April of this year, and there were concerns that it could expand to the rest of the country. However, thanks to being a social network deeply embedded in the new generations and worldwide, this issue may become anecdotal now that it’s partnering with Google to provide search results from the tech giant’s search engine.
To better understand this move, let’s examine Google’s efforts to bring the vertical video format to its YouTube platform. Google has not wanted to miss out, knowing that both new and older generations are increasingly using TikTok, with usage figures that would impress anyone (this year, the app announced it’s used by over 150 million Americans, just under half of the total U.S. population). And there’s no better way to keep up with the high-speed TikTok train than through this partnership.
Radu Oncescu, an expert in app research, has shown how some searches in the TikTok app now display the option to perform the same search on Google.com. Clicking on that link takes you to the app’s internal browser, which displays results from Google’s search engine. In fact, TikTok informs users that it takes no responsibility for the search results provided by Google.
A spokesperson for the social network has confirmed that the company is testing third-party integrations within the TikTok app, including one with Google. The functionality, which is being expanded to other regions around the world, has nothing to do with Google’s advertising payments, according to the spokesperson.
On the other hand, a Google spokesperson clarified that the company has nothing to declare regarding any commercial agreement between the two companies. Oncescu maintains that an agreement of this kind between Google and TikTok would benefit both companies in terms of traffic and advertising revenue.
If we take a look at what has happened in the last couple of years, Google executives have stated that they are looking for ways to attract the young audience that prefers using TikTok’s internal search over Google’s. TikTok surpassed YouTube in average usage time on Android devices in the United States in 2021 for the first time.
This is because tech giants want to reach younger audiences, and there’s no better way to do that than to follow the well-known saying: “If you can’t beat them, join them.” This radical shift between TikTok and Google would greatly benefit both companies. For TikTok, it would establish a connection with the United States through Google, and for Google, it would help it get closer to the young audience it has been losing in recent years.
There are statements from a Google advertising executive stating that they are losing market share in search advertising to TikTok and Amazon. Just last year, another executive stated that in their own reports, they found that 40% of young people in the United States prefer to use TikTok or Instagram to find a restaurant. The tech giant not only senses that it could lose the dominance it has held in its search engine but even Google Maps could accompany it in these negative usage figures.
There’s another point that also sheds some light on what’s happening: the lawsuit Google is facing from the U.S. Department of Justice, which alleges that the tech giant is maintaining its monopoly in search through distribution agreements with Apple and Samsung to make it the default search engine on most mobile devices. These moves with TikTok would help alleviate tensions.
TikTok is also handling the situation quite skillfully: apart from the Google search option, it is also including snippets (information snippets) from Wikipedia and IMDb, according to Business Insider. Even last month, TikTok made its search ads available to all advertisers.
Another piece of evidence that something is changing in the United States: in July of this year, TikTok reached a major agreement with Warner Music for the use of its extensive music catalog on the social network. Ultimately, according to Matt Navarra, a social media consultant, this is a big win for both companies, especially at a time when TikTok is intensifying its focus on e-commerce and Google is prioritizing TikTok videos in its search results.