After speculation, TikTok confirmed with Insider that it is testing in-app Google search results in various markets and that it is not an advertising unit. In another screenshot shared on X, a TikTok pop-up reads: “TikTok does not endorse or take responsibility for search results from Google.”
Google declined to comment on whether it has struck a financial agreement with TikTok as part of an official partnership.
Over the past year TikTok has gained a reputation for being the “new search engine” for Gen Z users. The New York Times said the app's evolution into a discovery tool “is part of a broader transformation in digital search” one year ago. “As the digital world continues to expand, the universe of ways to find information in it is expanding.”
Last September, the Times reported that 40% of young people use TikTok or Instagram when looking for a place to eat lunch, according to Google Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan.
By joining forces, TikTok and Google have the opportunity to corner the search market. However, the partnership could also further intensify the ongoing antitrust case against Google, which involves the U.S. Department of Justice alleging that Google has maintained dominance over search through high-priced deals with other tech giants like Apple.
However, TikTok will need to watch out for changes to landscape laid out under the Digital Markets Act (DMA), a recent EU regulation created in order to make the digital economy more fair and more contestable.