In 2021, Google held a global market share of 92.47% in global online search. However, the growing popularity of TikTok among younger audiences for search queries could pose a threat to Google Search.
At Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech Conference 2022, Google Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan revealed that according to internal research conducted by Google, nearly 40% of young users between the ages of 18 and 24 in the United States United preferred to use ‘TikTok’ or ‘Instagram’ over ‘Google Maps’ or ‘Google Search’ when looking for a restaurant. The detailed results of the study should be made public soon.
Why Generation Z prefers Tiktok?
Younger audiences may prefer platforms like “TikTok” and “Instagram” over “Google” for search purposes due to their highly visual engagement. For example, finding everything you need to know about a nearby restaurant in a 12-second clip is more engaging than reading multiple reviews or a 4-minute blog.
“New Internet users do not have the same type of expectations and the state of mind that we often get used to“says Raghavan.
Older age groups also prefer to engage more in audio-visual media if they want to learn something new instead of reading an article or a book. Additionally, users now have shorter attention spans and expect crisp deliveries of informative content. For example, if a user is looking for a tutorial on how to change a tire on a car, it’s plausible to assume that they would prefer a one-minute clip explaining the basics rather than a more in-depth explainer on YouTube.
TikTok has also improved its search tools over time. For example, the predictive text feature, which suggests common searches, has limited the need for users to leave the platform. A simple search query for a nearby restaurant could provide them with clips for ten other restaurants in the same locality.
Many young adults also explore these audiovisual platforms to discover new artists and new music. A study by MRC Data and Flamingo Group found that 75% of TikTok users report discovering artists on the platform. In addition, nearly 63% cite it as a source for finding alternative music.
According to research by YPulse, users aged 13 to 39 do not solely rely on “YouTube” to discover new music. In terms of varied searches, Instagram (60%) and TikTok (54%) are steadily gaining importance.
Google’s point of view
Google understands the threat posed by audiovisual platforms like Tiktok and Instagram. Although Google does not consider it a cause for concern yet, the company is trying to introduce more attractive features to stay competitive.
“Our goal with ‘Search’ is to provide people with the most relevant and useful information available. People have more ways to search for information than ever before, and it’s increasingly happening outside the context of a single search engine,” Google explained in a blog post.
In a bid to attract young users to its platforms, Google announced an immersive view for its “Google Maps” at Google I/O, 2022.
“With our new immersive view, you can experience what a popular neighborhood, landmark, restaurant or venue looks like, and even feel like you’re there before you even set foot there. So whether you’re traveling somewhere new or looking for hidden local gems, an immersive view will help you make the most informed decisions before you go,” Google says.
Earlier in 2022, Google launched a new feature called “people search next” which allows mobile users to see popular searches based on their search queries. He also announced a new “multiple search” feature in “Google Lens” that allows users to search text and images simultaneously.
Google needs to be careful
Tiktok is redefining social media as YouTube recently introduced “Shorts”, a short form video sharing platform similar to TikTok to rekindle its engagement.
According to a report by MoffettNathanson, YouTube’s ad revenue is in a cascading decline. YouTube is expected to lose $275 million in ad revenue in the third quarter. On the other hand, TikTok’s ad revenue would possibly overtake YouTube by 2024. YouTube’s ad revenue in 2021 was $28.84 billion.
Moreover, it is often claimed that TikTok’s recommendation engine is one of the best among platforms with similar features. He is believed to be a significant contributor to the platform’s massive user engagement.
In 2020, TikTok overtook Meta to become the most downloaded app. On average, it is estimated that a user spends 52 minutes of their day on the platform.
The most downloaded applications in 2021
(Image source: Statistical)
TikTok’s recommendation model studies quantifiable data such as click-through rate, watch time, likes, comments, and reposts. The goals are achieved using AI algorithms such as Collaborative Filtering Model, Regression Model, Factoring Machine, and Deep Learning. It uses a real-time online training protocol, which means that users’ actions and behaviors are captured, which their feeds reflect instantly. For example, if a user watches an entire video or watches the same video again, the personalized recommendation instantly updates to show similar content.
Although TikTok’s algorithm is not yet a direct threat to Google, its capabilities could help TikTok dethrone Google to become the top search engine in the near future.