TikTok elevates its search game for Gen Z by integrating Wikipedia results

The news: TikTok has discreetly introduced Wikipedia snippets within its search results, allowing the app to function more as a search engine. The feature, which has been live for a few months, was not formally announced by the company but was just disclosed by The Verge.

  • Users can find these Wikipedia excerpts interspersed between relevant videos.
  • Clicking on these snippets redirects the user to Wikipedia.

Zoom out: Additionally, TikTok has monetized its search results with sponsored content and initiated a partnership with IMDb, enabling creators to link to movies and TV shows.

Why it matters: This pivot toward integrating external web content like Wikipedia snippets signals TikTok's intention to become a more comprehensive search platform where external content, not just internal results, is highlighted.

  • Historically, TikTok exclusively showcased its internal content in search results.
  • A recent survey from Her Campus Media revealed that 74% of Gen Z internet users use TikTok as a search platform, with many preferring its short-form video format over traditional search engines like Google.
  • The search giant acknowledges TikTok’s challenge to its sector dominance, especially among younger users. With current antitrust allegations, TikTok's rise might help Google counter monopoly claims as more users start searches on social platforms.

Our take: TikTok's evolution from a mere video-sharing platform to a more holistic search platform is a natural outgrowth of its innovative and strategic efforts. By offering users a combination of engaging videos and informative snippets, TikTok is catering to a younger audience's dual need for entertainment and information.

  • Although it's too early to ascertain if TikTok can truly rival traditional search engines in their full capacity, these initial steps indicate a fascinating future for digital search.

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