There is more to TikTok and Instagram than trendy dance videos and freaky challenges. Many Gen Z-ers are now using these apps as their primary search and discovery platforms, and the trend is worrying none other than search engine giant, Google. At a recent tech conference, Google senior vice president Prabhakar Raghavan revealed that around 40 per cent of young Americans—aged between 18 and 24—preferred TikTok and Instagram over Google Maps or its search option while scouting for a restaurant. A December 2021 study by American firm Cloudflare had also shown this shift; it found that Google had been dethroned by TikTok as the most popular domain of 2021.
Tech experts say the high audio-visual and immersive engagement of TikTok and Instagram make them more preferred by the younger generation, compared with the more textual information provided by a Google search. A short video below 30 seconds is more appealing to them than reading an entire blog post.
Like any other search algorithm, TikTok and Instagram are collecting data to tailor user experience. They are also generating a personalised page for the users through which they feed them content—anything from restaurants and fashion trends to beauty products and news—without even an actual keyword-based search.
Google is now trying to counter the popularity of TikTok and Instagram with more immersive ads and better AI optimisation.