TikTok to display ads alongside search results

Just a few months after Instagram introduced ads in search results, TikTok is doing the same thing. In both cases, it’s a little shocking that it took this long.

TikTok announced the change in a blog post meant for advertisers on Tuesday. Folks who spend money to promote content on TikTok will be able to flip a toggle that will make their ad content show up alongside organic search results when a user searches for something. The ads will show up based on “relevancy” and “user intent” (though TikTok’s blog post didn’t clarify how those things are being calculated),” so their placement won’t be totally random.

This may sound insidious, and maybe it is, but at least it’s not hard to spot an ad on TikTok. The new ads in the search feed will have a “Sponsored” tag on them so they’re easy to discern from the stuff you actually want to see. And who knows, with TikTok dominating so many people’s screentime these days, maybe you do want to see ads on there. It certainly makes sense from an advertiser perspective.

Between this and TikTok aiming to launch its own e-commerce platform at some point, it may not be long before the app does a lot more than just feed users an algorithmic slurry of videos.

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