Apps & Software

TikTok is Paying Creators to Up its Search Game

TikTok is paying creators to up its search gameTikTok is increasingly embracing the idea of its app being utilized as a search engine.

The new monetization program, Creator Rewards, introduced by TikTok, will now compensate creators based on the relevance of their content to users’ search queries. This metric, known as search value, is one of four key factors influencing creator payouts on the platform.

The metric for optimizing content on TikTok is akin to search engine optimization (SEO) in the digital world. In SEO, one strategy involves conducting keyword research to create content that matches what users are searching for, primarily on Google. Similarly, on TikTok, the measure of success lies in whether creators are sharing content that aligns with popular topics being searched within the app. To assist creators in this endeavor, TikTok promotes the use of a tool called Creator Search Insights to explore trending searches.

According to a blog post by the company, creators can utilize these perspectives to find inspiration for their content, customize their creative approaches based on audience preferences, and produce content that resonates with viewers.

The insights feature provides creators with suggestions for video content based on a mix of individual preferences and broader data. For instance, on my profile, TikTok suggested that I create videos about Succession outfits. Other recommendations included Herman Miller Chair, Fairy Grunge Room Ideas, and strawberry muffins. When exploring the trending section under the tourism category, popular topics like Grand Oasis Cancun, Budapest attractions, and backpacking essentials were highlighted by TikTok.

An interpretation of this situation suggests that TikTok is encouraging content creators to produce videos that cater to commercial requirements. For instance, if I look for the top vacuum repair shop in New York City and find no suitable videos on the platform, it poses a challenge for TikTok. In such a scenario, I might exit the app and resort to using Google Maps or Yelp instead.

The strong focus on search query-related material indicates that the platform is increasingly positioning itself as a search engine. A report by Adobe in January revealed that 40% of individuals in the US utilize TikTok for this purpose, with 10% of Gen Z users favoring TikTok over Google. Google executives have cautioned that Search may be facing competition from TikTok.

The updated creator monetization program now factors in originality, playtime, and audience interaction in addition to search value when calculating creators’ earnings. This new approach has replaced the previous $1 billion creator fund and shifted the emphasis towards videos that exceed one minute in length.

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