The Threadgill Agency | Will TikTok Search Ads Work for Your Business?
TikTok is testing a new search ads platform to rival Google and Microsoft. Read more on its features, effectiveness, and how potential bans will impact ad reach.
TikTok Search Ads
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TikTok Search Ads in Testing Phase: What to Know

TikTok Search Ads in Testing Phase: What to Know

Marketers, TikTok is quietly beta testing a new tool to help you stand out from the crowd — their own search ads option. Similar to Google and Microsoft Bing’s sponsored ad results, TikTok’s search ads would allow advertisers to bid on specific keywords or phrases related to their products or services. Results would then display with a “sponsored” label above the “others search for” section.

“As one of the fastest-growing social media platforms, it’s no surprise that TikTok is looking to compete in the ‘search ads’ market,” says Mat Threadgill of The Threadgill Agency. “Advertisers would be wise to experiment with their TikTok reach before this new tool is widely released.”

TikTok, which originated as a dance challenge/lip-sync social media platform, has now become an advertising giant that reaches 825 million adult users worldwide. Now’s the time to determine if this new tool will be worth your marketing dollars. Keep reading to learn:

  • If TikTok search ads will be able to compete with industry leaders.
  • Potential TikTok bans and other challenges for search ads.
  • What you can do now during the search ads testing phase.


Can TikTok Search Ads Features Compete?

TikTok ads already exist where marketers pay for promoted content to appear to a specific targeted audience — from video ads to branded hashtag challenges to spark ads, see the full range of current TikTok advertising options here. But searchable ads are a whole new ballgame with big-potential ROI for engaged audiences.

Consider these eye-opening facts about TikTok users (source: Hootsuite):

  • Comprised of mainly Gen Z and Millenials, TikTok users are younger demographic than other platforms like Facebook
  • Get this! Nearly 40% of Gen Z users prefer TikTok and Instagram over Google as a search engine.
  • 35% use TikTok to follow or research brands, not just for its entertainment value (78%).
  • TikTok’s advertising audience is 36.9% female in the 18-34-year-old range and 32.8% male in the same age range. 
  • TikTok’s U.S. ad revenue is expected to reach $6.83 billion this year.


If you’re already on TikTok (or plan to be), you can see the advertising potential is huge. The future addition of search ads will help your content land higher up on keyword results to younger audiences wary of traditional advertising. TikTok users also don’t want to be inundated with sponsored content, however, so keeping the app engaging and organic is a priority. 

For TikTok search ads, challenges include coming years behind the industry leaders like Google and offering competitive advertising features, pricing, and benefits. Other established platforms like YouTube and Instagram offer easy monetization via videos that allow ads. More targeting features and exactly who search ads will be open to remain unknown as TikTok keeps mum in their testing phase. Some platforms are removing certain targeting features, so this could benefit TikTok.

Another roadblock includes bans from entire countries or individual U.S. states of the China-made app. With concerns over data breaches and security issues, for example, the U.S., the E.U. and Canada recently banned TikTok from federal devices. As a result, some brands are hesitant to invest in TikTok advertising, while others are moving forward and TikTok ad spend continues to climb.

TikTok Ads Now and in the Future

We previously shared how to utilize TikTok for business, and its reach has continued to explode. A word to the wise, however: Don’t chase customers on the platform if they aren’t on TikTok. Make sure your demographics match; a majority of TikTok users fall in the under-40 category; however, 30.4% of Tiktok’s advertising reach is age 35 and up. Play around with organic content before you move on to paid advertising. For TikTok, create relatable, authentic content, not overly branded sleek campaigns.

According to digital ad guru David Hermann, one “gold mine” in TikTok’s search ads testing is the ability to pull search terms of ads that convert. You could then capture those terms and repurpose them as titles in your top-performing TikTok videos, gaining even more reach.

For now, TikTok’s trends dashboard offers a wealth of insights into top hashtags, videos, keywords, and more. Ensure your brand is easily searchable for organic and paid content. Test what business tools are currently available to you, then you’re better prepared if TikTok search ads open up. Finally, remember that TikTok is just one piece of your comprehensive advertising strategy and keep creating value-add content on multiple platforms.