As you can see in this example, posted by digital ads expert David Herrmann, TikTok’s new search ads, tagged with a ‘Sponsored’ label, appear above the “others searched for” terms listing on the search results page, which generally means that they’ll appear within the first four results displayed.
The option will eventually enable TikTok advertisers to target searchers looking for specific terms, which could be a great way to reach people with higher purchase intent and interest, and could be a great compliment to your overall TikTok marketing approach.
In addition to this, Herrmann further notes that TikTok will also provide advertisers with a listing of the search terms that drove clicks on their campaigns, adding another potential targeting element for your ads.
Based on this, you can then build a database of the most popular related searches in the app, which can then help to guide your content targeting and video titles moving forward, in order to get more value from your overall TikTok approach.
TikTok is still building out its full ad suite, and its creator revenue share system, which remains the biggest risk to the company’s ongoing growth. Right now, TikTok offers its Creator Fund and tipping, among other, smaller monetization options for creators. But very clearly, creators can earn more money on YouTube and Instagram instead, which both have more established, more direct monetization options that enable creators to simply post clips, allow ads and collect.
TikTok can’t do this, because you can’t insert mid and pre-roll clips into short video clips. That’s why it’s looking to add in longer videos and facilitate new eCommerce partnerships, but if it becomes a bigger issue, and creators start complaining more about the lack of revenue options in TikTok clips, to the point that they focus elsewhere instead, that could, eventually, become an existential concern, if TikTok can’t right the ship.
It has plenty of time on this, and even if it works as a supplementary channel for creators, that will still see them continue posting to the app. But I suspect the next big battle in building the broader creator economy will be exclusive content deals offered by each app, which will see Meta and YouTube look to lock in their most popular stars, and keep them from posting to TikTok instead.
That could reduce TikTok’s market share, or at least slow its momentum – which is why TikTok needs more ad options and tools to expand its own revenue potential, and mitigate such risk.
Search ads are just another part of the broader scheme – and for brands, they could offer significant benefits.
We’ve asked TikTok for more info on the search ads beta, and we’ll update this post if/when we hear back.