Google unveils its attempts to reinvigorate search for the TikTok generation

The news: Google revealed changes to its standard search interface that will make it easier for consumers to explore content at its Search On event Wednesday.

Search is bringing sexy back: The company is launching a number of features, such as tools to drill down into topics and other modifications that will make using search a more visual experience, highlighting maps, snippets, imagery, and even video in new ways.

  • Shortcuts to a few of Google's useful tools will now be available right on the Google app's home screen, next to the search bar. Users will see buttons that enable rapid actions like text translation via a camera, homework help, music identification, or shopping from screenshots, for instance.
  • The modifications demonstrate that Google drew some inspiration from how younger users interact with the web. Generation Zers favor easily navigable visual information and more direction as they start to formulate queries.
  • Some of the new releases are obviously targeted at younger audiences, such as users who have grown up Shazam-ing music, shopping online, or saving photographs of favorite items, as well as those who are at ease with newer technologies like Google Lens. These buttons often go to Google services that may not be as well known since they haven't always been prominently featured in the past, rather than to brand-new tools.

Why it matters: The updates come in the wake of Google disclosing in July that its internal research suggested younger people had started using other services, including TikTok and Instagram, as their search engines of choice. That number is close to 40%, according to Google senior vice president Prabhakar Raghavan, who shared that stat at an industry event.

The big takeaway: The more consumers search elsewhere, the harder it is for Google to maintain its share of search ad spending. Our forecast has Google accounting for 59.4% of worldwide search ad revenue this year, but we expect that to drop to 56.0% by 2024—and much of that spend occurs on mobile, where again, younger users gravitate to TikTok and over index.

What if that share decline accelerates? That’s something Google is attempting to stave off.

Go further: With US mobile ad spending expected to hit $168.88 billion this year and rapid growth continuing through 2026, join us *today* for our analyst webinar detailing how advertisers can take advantage of new monetization opportunities. Register Now.

"Behind the Numbers" Podcast