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TikTok Enables New Search Ad Functionality For Marketers



Dan O'Connor

The Search Ad Toggle will display ads within organic search results.

Dive Brief:

  • TikTok announced a new functionality for marketers allowing for ads to appear as part of a user’s search results, per a company announcement. The Search Ad Toggle will draw from a brand’s existing ad creative to display the ads alongside organic search results.

  • When engaged, the new search ads will be displayed as sponsored content and will appear among search results based on relevancy, user intent and broader learnings from other user behavior.

  • If a user clicks on a search ad, it will mirror TikTok’s in-feed experience and allow them to continue scrolling through search results as per usual. Early users of the new ad feature have already reported success, according to the announcement.

Dive Insight:

TikTok has continued to broaden its appeal to advertisers, with its new bets on search ads no different. The latest move could be a major point of opportunity for brands running ads on the ByteDance platform, with 58% of the app’s users reporting that they discover new brands and products on the platform,1.5 times higher than the discovery rates on other platforms, according to a Material study cited by TikTok.

“With the Search Ads Toggle, brands can extend the reach of their campaigns to high-intent users who are seeking information relevant to their business, driving incremental engagement and revenue potential,” TikTok’s company announcement reads.

The Search Ads Toggle will be automatically set to “on” when brands set up an in-feed ads campaign, though advertisers can choose to opt out of the feature. They can also turn the toggle on mid-campaign flight, though doing so will not reactivate the campaign’s learning phase.

According to TikTok’s internal research, 70% of ad groups utilizing the Search Ads Toggle are seeing more efficient performance and conversions from search than when the feature is not engaged.

In an early test of the Search Ads Toggle for its Even Better Clinical Serum Foundation, Clinique UK recorded 74,000 incremental search impressions, which translated to a 441% increase in conversion rate and a 51% click-through rate increase. Post-campaign research found a 7.4% increase in ad recall, offering the marketer stronger insights regarding what target consumers are looking for, according to a case study.

Similarly, beauty brand DIBS used the Search Ads Toggle for its 2022 Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions to feature an organic video of the brand’s co-founder demonstrating its product. Using the feature, DIBS saw an 8% higher conversion volume and a six-times higher conversion rate compared to their non-search ads. The brand also saw a 22% decrease in cost-per-acquisition compared to its non-search ads.

The deliverability of ads through search could make TikTok a stronger competitor against more mature players like Google and Meta, though the latter has recently demonstrated a comeback. In 2021, TikTok surpassed Google as the most-visited website. Google has also admitted that 40% of younger consumers use social media, namely TikTok and Instagram, to search for products and services.

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