TikTok is testing an AI chatbot in select markets. Called Tako, the AI-powered tool is meant to help TikTok users with search and discovery.
Why we care. Google has acknowledged that TikTok is a threat. So we’re watching closely as TikTok makes moves to improve search on its platform, as well as testing search ads.
What it looks like. Here’s how TechCrunch described it:
“It will appear on the right-hand side of the TikTok interface, above the user’s profile and other buttons for likes, comments and bookmarks. When tapped, users can ask Tako various questions about the video using natural language queries or discover new content by asking for recommendations.”
Here’s a screenshot:
What TikTok is saying. TikTok confirmed the AI chatbot is being tested with select users in the Philippines, via Twitter:
- “We’re in the early stages of exploring chatbot tools with a limited test of Tako with select users in the Philippines. Tako is an AI-powered tool to help with search and discovery on TikTok. Tako is powered by a third-party chat assistant and is designed to help make it easier to discover entertaining and inspiring content on TikTok. No current plans for this beyond these early tests, but we’re excited to hear your feedback!”
Google’s TikTok threat. Google revealed a surprising stat last year: that 40% of young people go to TikTok or Instagram (not Google Maps of Search) when searching for a place to eat lunch. That was according to Google Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan, citing internal research of U.S. users between the ages of 18 and 24. He also noted these newer Internet users search differently.
TikTok is not a search engine like Google, which crawls the entire web. TikTok is basically an internal search engine – like YouTube, which is often called the second biggest search engine. And this new AI chatbot, if rolled out globally, could let TikTok users discover content via chat rather than typing in a search box.