TikTok Testing Visual Search For Ecommerce

TikTok is testing the ability for users to take or upload a photo to find similar products in TikTok Shop, a Google feature it has offered for years. 

Google Lens lets people search for what they see by using a photo or camera. 

TikTok's latest feature, first spotted by singer-songwriter and tech user Jonah Manzano on X, and confirmed by TechCrunch, is available to all users in the United States and Southeast Asia. 

Users with access to the feature will see it as a camera icon on the platform. 

“TikTok continues to build advertising capabilities, despite potential restrictions, and we believe is gaining share due to attractive user demographics, the compelling feed algorithm, and broad range of ad tools and services,” Colin Sebastian, analyst at Baird Equity Research, wrote in a note published Wednesday. 



He wrote that TikTok’s most active users increasingly use the platform for search and performance. The company continues to introduce more solutions for lower-funnel commerce such as ad formats, creation, measurement and attribution tools. 

With closed loop and first-party data strategy, it should make TikTok more attractive in a post-cookie world with AI-powered features. 

“TikTok is expanding Product GMV Max ads to the U.S., which automates campaign setup, bidding, and placement across the Shop tab and feeds,” Sebastian wrote. “These features are similar to tools provided by Google and Meta that reduce friction, optimize ad budgets, and improve ROI for advertisers.”

Then there’s Symphony Assistant, which uses generative AI to help create and produce content, including a video generator, automating ad copy and scripts, language translation, and producing call-to-action cards, according to Sebastian.

A Forbes study released in May identified a 30% decline in the use of search engines to search for brand names between baby boomers at 94% and Gen Z at 64%. It found that more consumers discover and find brands through social media, rather than search. On average, 10% of people begin their brand searches on social media, refining searches on engines later.

TikTok has been betting on ecommerce as a revenue stream and a way to remain relevant in the U.S. as it faces a potential ban, unless its parent ByDance divests the company within a year. 

TikTok Shop, the company estimates, has more than 15 million sellers worldwide, including more than 500,000 in the U.S. 

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