The company announced today that advertisers will be able to place ads alongside organic content that appears when you perform in-app search. When a user clicks on an ad, she can continue scrolling to see the search results in a feed-like format. The ads are pulled from other videos the brand posts on the platform.
The ads will appear next to the organic content displayed when a user searches on TikTok, with a semi-transparent “sponsored” tag on the video thumbnail. Ads already appear as videos among organic content in users’ For You feeds with the same “sponsored” tag. Search ads are turned on by default for advertisers.
TikTok’s decision to run ads in search results was inevitable. Earlier this year, Instagram followed suit, placing sponsored content related to a user’s search. Instagram search ads appear when a user clicks on a post and starts scrolling through other content.
The ads occupying TikTok’s search pages could suggest that it is a valuable placement for advertisers. Young people are increasingly using TikTok as a substitute for Google to find recommendations for products, restaurants or programs to watch. (It works better than expected.)
But search on TikTok isn’t as developed as Google Search, and keyword queries and hashtags are often pretty useless, at least in my experience. In the past, TikTok has also had trouble moderating content that appeared prominently in search results: Last year, the platform removed several videos promoting the use of prescription drugs as weight-loss ads after researchers they discovered that TikTok was showing them up in searches.