TikTok search results are about to get infested with ads

The company says the feature “further powers brand discovery.”


If there’s one thing we can count on as a species is that people will figure out ways to squeeze ads into every single thing we look at. Case in point? TikTok is integrating ads into search results, so you’ll get branded content every time you look for a hashtag, a specific user or anything else. These ads are pulled from sponsored videos hosted on the platform and exist as a way to “further power brand discovery.”

Some users may find this annoying, but the announcement makes it clear that ads will be relevant to the search query and will be clearly labeled as a sponsored post. Ads will also likely be culled from your interests as represented by prior search queries and all of your various actions on the social media platform. In other words, the algorithm will do what the algorithm already does, but in a new location.

Clicking on a sponsored post will not interrupt your search, which is nice. The ad mirrors the in-feed experience and allows users to continue scrolling through the search results, whether you click on an ad or not. There’s likely to be no shortage of advertisers as TikTok says the feature is automatically enabled for pre-existing merchants. In other words, advertisers have to opt-out of appearing alongside search results.

Having an ad-free search bar was fun while it lasted, but this move has been a long time coming. It was something of an inevitability, as competitors like Instagram started doing the same thing earlier this year. It’s worth noting that ads already appear in the regular TikTok feed, nestled between videos posted by folks you actually follow. Don Draper’s search-bar fever dream is rolling out now to global TikTok users.