TikTok: The Unexpected Challenger to Traditional Search Engines?

TikTok used as a search engine?

According to Adobe research, 64% of Gen Z have used TikTok as a search engine, and nearly 10% use it over Google. Close behind are the Millennials, with 49%. Then, we can see the percentage dropping to 29% for the Gen X and even a more significant drop for the Boomers with 14%.

It's interesting to see how the article mentions ChatGPT as an upcoming search engine contestant sitting in 4th place. According to the study, over 10% of consumers use ChatGPT as a search engine, and 5% went as far as to seek personal finance advice.

Top Searches and reasons to use TikTok as a search engine

The top 3 searches are for new recipes 36%, new music 35% and DYI tips 34%. Product/services reviews, fashion, beauty, and travel advice are among the top searches.

Top reasons for using TikTok search engine vs Google's:

  • The sort video format is more informative and digestive
  • I enjoy the storytelling aspect of TikTok
  • The content is more personalised (40% Gen Z)
  • The information is more current
  •  I enjoy the interactive and immersive experience

Regarding content preferences, 62% like video tutorials best, followed by product or service reviews at 39% and personal stories at 38%.

What does this mean for business?

TikTok is an excellent opportunity to promote your business outside the traditional digital marketing channels. 54% of the companies surveyed use TikTok to promote their business, posting 9 times monthly on average. According to that business, video tutorials outperformed traditional content in SERPs by 22%. 20% of all business owners have used TikTok influencers to promote their products.

Top 3 challenges for businesses when creating content were:

  • Converting TikTok engagement into sales
  • Increasing follower count and engagement rates
  • Creating content appealed to the diverse used base, not just Gen Z.

While some companies can afford 15% of their total budget for content creation, and 53% intend to boost their investment, others, 25%, need help to keep up with content creation. Free tools in the market are available to everyone, though you will still need the time to develop the content, which can be a bottleneck for small business owners. Even using ChatGPT takes time, so it is best to ask for help from a professional if you can afford it.


Adobe research shows that TikTok is being used as a search engine, especially by younger generations. This is not to be ignored by businesses, big or small. Undoubtedly, it will be a channel to explore in 2024.

Research Methodology

Based on 808 consumers and 251 business surveyed in the US.

Link to Adobe research page: https://www.adobe.com/express/learn/blog/using-tiktok-as-a-search-engine

Written by
Carolina Torres

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