Traffic Cardinal Traffic Cardinal wrote 05.04.2023

TikTok vs. Google & Microsoft: Let the Battle Begin!

Traffic Cardinal Traffic Cardinal wrote 05.04.2023
10 min

Even though TikTok started beta testing its search ad campaign in 2022, it mostly remained a mere fact that sparked little discussion in the affiliate marketing industry (if at all). However, in March 2023, things took an unexpected turn: according to Business Insider, the company decided to promote the feature more vigorously, if not outright aggressively. In the same study, Partner & Chief Social Officer at independent creative agency Mekanism Brendan Gahan says, "It does seem like search is something TikTok is taking seriously. <...> They can actually generate a whole new ad revenue stream."

It's just the beginning, but it already sounds juicy. Get your paws on the latest intel: what TikTok is up to, what difficulties the company's facing, and whether it can compete with Google and Microsoft — all in one place, right here.

Keeping a Lid

TikTok, already notorious for the sanctions levied by many countries, went even further in 2023: it had beef with the UK government. The voting process didn't last long; as a result, both ministers and public servants were banned from using the app on their work devices. Before that, the EU government had made a similar gutsy move prohibiting TikTok from staff devices over cybersecurity concerns. Thus, employees at the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the European Council can no longer scroll the feed and laugh at funny cat videos while loitering during their lunch break.

These steps were triggered by the U.S. TikTok policy adopted in December 2022, with Canada and Taiwan following suit. Other countries, though, transcend further: in India and China, TikTok is completely forbidden. You cannot use it under any circumstances, from any device, whether you're a government official or an ordinary citizen.

 Usesignhouse shows that the bans do not afflict the app’s solid growth

Usesignhouse shows that the bans do not afflict the app’s solid growth

Why do they ban TikTok? Where does this trend come from, and why does it continue to gain momentum in 2023?

Obviously, user data security reasons are to blame, and these reasons are sprinkled with a pinch of government secrets disclosure. CNN reports that TikTok can access contact lists, geolocation information, calendars, Wi-Fi networks, SIM cards, and data from other apps. Even more so, in 2023, new allegations popped up: the app's built-in search browser, the gem in the company's development, tracks the keyboard input. In the long run, it may cause another data leak, or data breach, whichever term you prefer. In short, the app may potentially steal your bank card data and passwords, and if you're a public official... yes, you can quote that famous movie catchphrase: it's a threat to National Security!

Such threats are no longer a thing in 2023, we've been through a bigger upheaval, but the main concern is TikTok's parent company, ByteDance. A tidbit is that this is a Chinese company, and China is notorious for its strained relationship with Western countries.

However, the CNN study we've mentioned above states that no public evidence has confirmed that TikTok is involved in any kind of identity theft. In reality, we face an entirely different situation when governments ban the platform at the state level. There's even a series of studies (and a TikTok summary!) concluding that data is not secure on the app.

Affiliate Marketers Put at Ease

It won't be an understatement to say that in 2023, TikTok possesses a miraculous potential compared to other social networks. Statista reports that in 2022, the platform generated $5.04 billion in revenue. Even more so, the app became one of the leaders among the most used resources in 2022.

Annual Datareportal report, January 2023

Annual Datareportal report, January 2023

To sum it up, nothing threatens the prosperity of people working with TikTok. Even if all those bills and projects, theoretical or not, become laws that cannot be violated, they won't affect traffic in the slightest. Wondering why? Have a closer look at the chart above. TikTok has a huge, engaged, and loyal audience, so government bans can't possibly be tangible. Moreover, public officials were prohibited from watching silly videos on their office gadgets; no one imposed any restrictions on their personal devices, so... there's clearly no difference.

Nevertheless, we should never forget one little complication: the inexorably deteriorating political and economic relations between China and Western countries. Bans may go unnoticed by ordinary users, but large brands may be seriously affected, for example, the sphere of Influence Marketing.

The topic has grown increasingly popular in the early months of 2023. According to Affiverse, political friction caused American politicians to call for a total ban on TikTok in the United States. If this happens, the market of 94+ million users will implode and collapse, which will, in turn, entail devastating consequences for affiliate marketers working with the US.

Recurring to what was said before, most countries are not yet planning to shut down the platform, but it is worth keeping your eye on the ball and resorting to the diversification of traffic to solve potential problems or avoid them.

Currently, TikTok is actively developing its search engine for better results and advertising options. For an affiliate marketer, it may mean that there are more ways to earn money: new audiences and updated search features will work wonders on an already-refined approach.

Let the Battle Begin

Have you heard a rumor that TikTok wants to take down Google and Microsoft? Now you have, but let us get things straight and clarify the complex part of the story.

In a nutshell, TikTok is about to launch its own search ad platform. Advertisers will parse keywords and phrases to eventually work with them in the way they see fit.

If we examine the beta testing results, we notice that publishers increase their conversions by using search advertising: they literally collect semantics and use the highest-frequency queries in the headlines, thus raising their ads to the top. That's the secret of offer sales.

Search results and recommendations with keywords on TikTok
Search results and recommendations with keywords on TikTok

Even David Herrmann, president of Herrmann Digital, had something to say about the ad advertising campaign launch on TikTok:

Herrmann also remarks that once the system works for a wider audience, advertisers will be able to use the ad search terms that have increased conversion rates intending to employ them in future campaigns.

Although TikTok representatives claim that the company does not yet possess enough capacity to fully launch the system, it will not afflict search engine developments. In fact, the function has not yet been introduced because of an insufficient test base in certain regions.

Alas, no one has announced when the base will grow big enough or when the users gain access to the feature. Still, looking back at TikTok's tendencies, it's safe to say that the implementation process will not last longer than two years: the platform is expanding rapidly, and the users get even more engaged.

Another study, this time by Performance Marketing World, also notes that TikTok is close to launching a search platform. What's more interesting, the experts dwell on the idea that TikTok may become Google's and Bing's competitor. Despite enormous risks in the search business, analysts see a direct threat to the search engine giants.

What do Google representatives think about that? Well, Prabhakar Raghavan, Senior Vice President at Google, sees the problem at its core, at the basic level of the user request, saying, "...almost 40% of young people when they are looking for a place for lunch, they don't go to Google Maps or such. They go to TikTok or Instagram."

What does this even mean? Well, it means that TikTok's search engine release can hit Google even harder than Bing. In 2023, this process is a question of perfect timing and a hunter mindset.


In 2023, TikTok is a synonym for success and uproar. Some people speak about the app bans on government gadgets, and others grow wary because of user privacy violations. Despite its clearly scandalous nature, TikTok remains one of the most popular platforms in the world.

However, these outstanding achievements are not enough for the company: soon, it is going to implement search advertising for an average user. In the long run, it may even become a serious competitor to Google and Bing, even though the outcome is impossible to predict. Overall, it's only a matter of time. So, to keep your revenue safe, diversify your traffic sources, and no global digital cataclysms will strike you hard.

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