Search Ads Are Coming to TikTok. What Does This Mean For Advertisers?

Background of pale pink describing that TikTok is going to be running search ads.

Search Ads Are Coming to TikTok.

What Does This Mean For Advertisers?

TikTok could soon be entering the search ad market with the potential to rival market leaders like Google. Launching this new product could help drive quality traffic and allow advertisers to access valuable keyword data.

What are TikTok Search Ads and How Do They Work?

TikTok is reportedly launching its own search ads platform that would allow advertisers to bid on specific keywords related to their products or services, similar to Google and Microsoft Ads. 

Last year, TikTok launched a beta test rollout initially discovered by users when video ads with a “Sponsored” label appeared within the top four search results. This rollout allowed testers to view search terms that drove conversions and high click-through rates. Access to this data will enable advertisers to optimize ads by using top keywords in ad headlines. It can also help generate new content ideas on and off the platform based on user searches and intent.

We recently explored the TikTok search results page with a few search terms to identify these sponsored posts – all of which resulted in an ad showing within the top four results:

TikTok Search Ad screenshot showing Outfit Ideas
Outfit Ideas
TikTok screenshot showing makeup tutorials.
Makeup Tutorials
TikTok screenshot showing gifts for mom results.
Gift Ideas for Mom

TikTok’s search ads platform will likely offer unique features beyond what is available in Google Ads. For example, TikTok’s current interest, behavior, and demographic targeting features would allow for more detailed search targeting options, potentially making this platform more appealing to advertisers. This new offering would also allow for increased targeting control and the ability to reach lower-funnel audiences.

When Will This Roll Out?

TikTok is still in the early stages of testing, and this product is not yet available to advertisers. A representative from TikTok told Search Engine Land:

“We are in the very early stages of testing search ads in select regions. For clarification – at this stage, advertisers do not have the ability to bid on specific keywords for advertising purposes. This part of our testing is managed by TikTok based on keywords that would be most relevant and impactful to the advertiser and their specific ad.”

What Does This Mean for Marketers?

As of January 2023, just over 70% of global TikTok users fell between the ages of 18 and 34 years old. In addition to this platform’s ability to reach a younger Gen Z and Millennial audience, studies have shown that about 40% of this younger audience prefers to search for information on TikTok and Instagram over Google.

What is driving this new wave of TikTok searchers? Perks include the platform’s quick and visual delivery of information, highly engaging content, and personalized user experience. In addition, a Nielsen study found that “users around the globe find TikTok content to be authentic, genuine, unfiltered and trendsetting.”

Expanding into search ads would make this platform an even more valuable tool for reaching a younger, more engaged audience. 

What Are the Potential Downfalls?

Potential risks from this new offering include ad fatigue caused by a higher volume of ads or users becoming less likely to use the app if they feel that the platform is too ad-focused. As a result, TikTok will need to ensure that ad types remain user-friendly and do not take away from the app’s user experience. 

Additionally, TikTok must ensure competitive click costs and high ROI compared to existing platforms to entice advertisers to spend on this new product.

What Can Your Clients Do Now to Prepare?

Until this offering is released, advertisers can prepare by encouraging clients to leverage TikTok organically so that brands have an established presence on the app before running ads. Establishing an organic strategy is especially important on TikTok as studies show that “when users are exposed to both paid and organic content from brands, the ads are perceived as less intrusive and don’t interfere with their experience on TikTok.”

  • Optimize Your Profile Page

Add a quality profile image, including a brand description, CTA, and website link.

  • Research Creative Trends

Creative & trends are everything and will make or break your success on TikTok. Posts should center around a current trend, use trending music and use relevant hashtags. Knowing what resonates with your audience and what is trending is essential – this requires ongoing research.

  • Conduct a Competitor Audit

Check out what similar brands are posting on TikTok to understand what’s worked and hasn’t worked for them.

  • Post Regularly and Test 

Post often and consistently – for most brands, the ideal frequency is 5 to 7 posts a week. Posting regularly allows for more testing opportunities to see what resonates best with users – test different headlines, openers, text angles, and overlays. In addition, it is essential to see what works and drives views organically to help inform content strategy when the brand is ready to launch paid ads.

Final Takeaways

TikTok’s expansion into search ads presents opportunities for advertisers to reach Gen Z and Millennial audiences in new and unique ways. With detailed targeting capabilities and access to search data, TikTok could allow advertisers to improve content both on and off the platform and reach a lower funnel, more engaged audience. 

While this new product is still in the early stages of testing and is not ready to launch yet, TikTok’s search ad platform has the potential to be a powerful and effective tool for advertisers.

If you or a client need assistance with any of the recommended preparations, reach out to LeadLab Media for a free consultation on how we can help.