Are you up to date on changes from TikTok? Wondering which TikTok updates are important to marketers and business owners?
In this article, we explore TikTok changes that affect your marketing.
#1: TikTok Search Ads Toggle
TikTok has introduced a new Search Ads Toggle feature that gives brands the ability to serve ads alongside organic search results for relevant user queries. When enabled, the toggle leverages existing In-Feed ad creative to automatically generate search ads that appear among organic results on the TikTok search results page, labeled as “Sponsored” content. Their position varies based on relevancy to the user's query and intent. The toggle is on by default for new In-Feed campaigns, but brands can opt out during campaign creation or turn it off mid-flight if desired.
Our Take: TikTok's new search ads toggle has been in beta testing for over a year and is now rolling out more widely. However, the results so far have been modest—search hasn't been a major driver for expert Max Finn’s campaigns.
Having ads appear during discovery and higher intent searches can provide some lift in engagement and performance, but overall it hasn't been a game changer yet, though that could evolve as TikTok becomes a more popular search destination, especially with younger users.
#2: Paid Ad-Free TikTok Subscriptions
Code found in the latest version of the TikTok app indicates the platform is testing an ad-free subscription option for users. The discovered code shows TikTok prompting users to agree to an ad-free plan priced at $4.99 per month in the US, acknowledging data collection practices. Alternatively, users can continue seeing ads on TikTok for free, allowing their data to be used for targeted ads per TikTok's terms of service.
Our Take: Free ad-supported platforms like Google and Facebook have provided tremendous value to users. However, TikTok's usage patterns align more with YouTube, where an ad-free premium tier has seen some success.
Still, TikTok can't simply replace lost ad revenue with subscriptions—conversion rates are never what they expect and it’s unclear how many TikTok users would actually pay to avoid ads, especially given economic conditions. This could lead to unsustainably high subscription prices over time.
Overall, moving existing platforms to paid models rarely succeeds; it's better suited for new offerings. Instead, TikTok could use subscriptions to offer exclusive content and evolve into a media property akin to Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. But attempting to convert their current massive ad-supported user base to paid subscriptions presents major challenges.
#3: TikTok Attribution Analytics
TikTok is launching a new Attribution Analytics feature within TikTok Ads Manager to help advertisers better measure campaign results and understand user behavior. It includes a first-party measurement solution to provide insight into the awareness-discovery-action customer journey on TikTok.
The first capability being released is Performance Comparison, which visualizes conversions across different attribution windows. This allows advertisers to analyze events, click-through and view-through conversions, and cost per acquisition across various attribution strategies. The goal is to help determine the optimal attribution settings to apply for future measurement and strategy.
Our Take: Since TikTok is often a discovery platform, accurately tracking view-through attribution is challenging—many users see ads but don't immediately convert. This results in discrepancies between TikTok's broad reach and detectable conversions.
TikTok's initial attribution analytics release allows advertisers to compare conversion events across different click-through and view-through attribution windows. This helps determine optimal settings for capturing conversions that may happen later. TikTok is also incorporating more third-party partners like No Commerce for post-purchase surveys to collect first-party data on purchase journeys. Studies show a significant portion of conversions users attribute to TikTok are missing from standard last-click models.
Overall, the speakers emphasize using TikTok's attribution tools along with third-party solutions to blend data for a more accurate picture of TikTok ad effectiveness. This is increasingly important as some demographics now search TikTok before Google, underscoring the need to better understand the platform's influence in the purchase journey.
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#4: TikTok Search Results
TikTok has partnered with Wikipedia to bring informative content directly into the app. According to TikTok spokesperson Zachary Kizer, the feature displays Wikipedia information amidst video results when users scroll through the in-app search. Launching a few months ago, it shows a snippet of the Wikipedia entry with links to different sections, taking users directly to the full Wikipedia page when clicked.
Additionally, a new feature being tested by TikTok adds a link to search Google directly from the TikTok search results page, as spotted by app researcher Radu Oncescu. Screenshots show TikTok search results now include an option to “Search on Google” for the same query. TikTok also displays a popup stating it does not take responsibility for or endorse Google search results. While Google declined to comment, TikTok confirmed to Business Insider it is testing the feature in select markets.
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#5: TikTok Creative Assistant
TikTok has launched a new AI-powered Creative Assistant tool available in TikTok Creative Center. It is designed as a virtual collaborator to help brands and creators through the TikTok creative process.
Drawing on TikTok's creative knowledge base, it can guide users on best practices, analyze top-performing ads, brainstorm video ideas, write scripts, and refine content. The goal is to spark creativity by integrating an intelligent assistant within the Creative Center that conversates and ideates alongside users.
For those new to the platform, it provides onboarding advice. For experienced creators, it leverages data insights to showcase inspirational content. Overall, Creative Assistant aims to boost productivity and innovation when developing TikTok campaigns and videos.
#6: TikTok Direct Post
TikTok has introduced Direct Post, which allows users to post video content straight from third-party platforms to TikTok with one click. It builds on existing Share to TikTok integrations by enabling setting captions, audience, and more before directly publishing to TikTok from within the third-party platform.
Direct Post also enables scheduling long-form videos via social media management tools after connecting accounts. Partners must be vetted through an audit process and granted access to TikTok's Content Posting API before activating the feature, which then permits seamless one-click posting to TikTok. Overall, Direct Post expands TikTok's capabilities for cross-platform posting, allowing users to publish content to TikTok without leaving third-party apps.
#7: TikTok Shop
TikTok has fully launched TikTok Shop in the US, enabling in-app shopping directly within the platform. The feature allows brands and creators to tag products in videos and livestreams that users can then purchase seamlessly without leaving TikTok.
Sellers can showcase products, take advantage of affiliate marketing opportunities, and leverage TikTok ad formats to promote their shop. TikTok manages fulfillment and checkout using third-party partners to ensure a smooth buying experience.
Overall, TikTok Shop aims to fuse community trends, creativity, and commerce—capitalizing on viral phenomena like #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt to create a native shopping culture. By providing tools for brands and creators to easily sell products directly to highly engaged users, TikTok is evolving into a commerce destination.
Our Take: This merger of social media and commerce has long been a goal across platforms. TikTok Shop enables businesses to tag and sell products directly from videos without users leaving the app, reducing friction. However, TikTok controls the data and takes a fee like Amazon.
TikTok is aggressively incentivizing sellers and buyers this holiday season via discounts and low ad costs. The speakers highlight TikTok simultaneously facilitating third-party sellers while also building its own marketplace competing with Amazon.
Overall, TikTok Shop aims to capitalize on viral product trends and train user behavior to shop seamlessly within the app. While the all-in-one convenience benefits small businesses, the speakers note platforms taking cuts and controlling data poses challenges as companies scale. But TikTok Shop represents a major evolution into commerce and further competition for entrenched players like Amazon.
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