What TikTok's AI Chatbot Means for Search and Discovery

The potential impact of TikTok's new AI chatbot for creators and marketers.

Today’s Edition

  • TikTok experiments with an AI chatbot to enhance search and discovery

  • TikTok continues its expansion to bigger screens with new partnerships

  • Twitch rival Kick introduces first advertising solution and explores streamer-brand collaboration program

TikTok Experiments With An AI Chatbot Tako to Enhance Search and Discovery

Source: Watchful

TikTok is currently experimenting with an AI chatbot named Tako in the Philippines. The chatbot appears above the TikTok profile icon on videos, allowing users to tap it and initiate a chat where they can ask questions and engage in conversations. Tako serves users with a list of suggested videos, including a thumbnail, the video name, the creator, the topic, and a link to watch it. Unlike Snapchat's My AI, which is more conversational, Tako's primary focus is on search and discovery within TikTok, according to a statement by TikTok.

What it Means for Creators, Marketers, and TikTok

TikTok already delivers highly personalized content and recommendations to users based on their viewing habits and engagement patterns. Tako will further enhance the personalized experience by utilizing first-party data from user inputs. This benefits everyday users who can find a vast, infinite amount of personalized content.

New Discovery Touchpoints for Creators

Creators whose videos align with popular prompts may experience increased discovery and reach. This allows smaller creators to grow their audiences through a new touchpoint. If Tako becomes a common way for users to find content, some creators may shift their content strategy to optimize their chances of being discovered through the chatbot. Creators must increasingly have a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy across platforms like TikTok to be discovered. The continued emergence of chatbots will also make it necessary to have a chatbot optimization strategy for discovery.

A Research Tool for Marketers

Tako provides exciting opportunities for marketers as a valuable research tool for TikTok. Instead of spending significant time scrolling through the platform to identify emerging creators and trends, marketers can efficiently find them by using prompts. For instance, I have been dedicating a lot of time to researching the influencer marketing strategies of competitors for the brands I work with. This process usually takes hours, but with Tako, I can potentially expedite and streamline the research by asking questions that surface examples of sponsored content from specific brands and quickly accessing relevant links.

New Avenue for Advertising on TikTok

Tako could become a new avenue for advertising on TikTok, similar to My AI. TikTok could introduce ads within its chatbot, expanding its Search Ads format. This offering generated excitement for brands looking to reach Gen Z audiences as they leverage social media for their search needs, but reports of its effectiveness have been mixed. Incorporating ad placements in Tako could make TikTok's offering even stronger, especially if brands can target based on specific keywords and topics.

Generative AI-Powered Search Experiences Gain Traction

The experimental launch of Tako aligns with the growing trend of generative AI-powered search experiences. The popularity of ChatGPT, as well as Google and Microsoft updating their search engines with more AI capabilities, demonstrates that this approach is quickly becoming a preferred way to search and find information.

Expect TikTok to Proceed Cautiously with Tako in the US

The integration of generative AI with social media is an exciting development, but it raises many potential issues. TikTok, for example, is already under scrutiny for concerns related to data, privacy, mental health, and misinformation. Adding a chatbot to the platform only exacerbates these concerns. TikTok is well aware of this, as evidenced by the disclaimers users must agree to before using Tako, such as not sharing personal information and not using it for medical, legal, or financial advice. By deciding to test it in the Philippines instead of the United States, where it continues to face pressure from lawmakers, the company is showing a more cautious approach to incorporating generative AI into its platform in certain regions.

TikTok Continues its Expansion to Bigger Screens with New Partnerships

TikTok has signed new deals to bring its videos to bigger screens. Through a partnership with the airport TV network ReachTV, travelers at 90 commercial airports can watch thousands of curated travel and lifestyle videos from top creators across the platform. These videos will air in three-minute blocks and will be refreshed every hour. Additionally, TikTok and movie theater ad seller ScreenVision are partnering for TikTok on the Big Screen, a new advertising solution allowing brands to insert themselves into 60-second segments featuring curated TikTok content that airs during movie pre-shows.

These aim to expand the reach of TikTok’s entertaining videos to everyday experiences, from taking a vacation to seeing the newest summer blockbuster. This builds on existing partnerships and initiatives that distribute TikTok content in places beyond mobile devices, such as restaurants, retail stores, salons, healthcare offices, and luxury cars. Making TikTok accessible in more places gives viewers the ability to consume videos in different environments, allows creators to be discovered in new ways, and enables advertisers to reach audiences like Gen Z when they aren’t on their phones — bringing more dollars in for TikTok’s advertising business. During this year's TikTok Creative Partner Day, the platform shared that repurposing TikTok content across non-TikTok platforms, such as TV commercials, drives strong ad performance.

The battle for bigger screens has been a key area of competition between TikTok and YouTube. YouTube has also been expanding its presence on beyond mobile, with recent moves like developing a Shorts experience for TV and securing the rights to NFL Sunday Ticket.

YouTube to Discontinue Stories, but Expands Access to Community Posts

Source: YouTube

YouTube will be discontinuing Stories on June 26th, citing Community Posts and Shorts as viable alternatives. Community Posts, a text-based feature, has many of the same capabilities as Stories and more. According to YouTube, Community Posts also receive more comments and likes on average than Stories. In advance of the announcement, YouTube expanded access to Community Posts to all creators and added new features like Image Polls, Quizzes, stickers, and filters.

Community Posts can help creators reach a wider audience, engage with their followers more deeply, and interact with them outside of video uploads. They can use the feature to share behind-the-scenes content, solicit feedback from their subscribers, promote upcoming and existing videos, and more.

YouTube has joined LinkedIn and Twitter, which have removed their Stories features, demonstrating that the once must-have content format isn't a fit for every platform. On a greater level, YouTube's move highlights the push and pull of platforms launching new features and removing existing ones. There have also been examples of them consolidating features, such as Pinterest, which recently unified its Pins and Idea Pins into a single format, creating a more streamlined user experience for creators.

Twitch Rival Kick Introduces First Advertising Solution and Explores Streamer-Brand Collaboration Program

Kick, an emerging live streaming platform, has introduced a banner ad on its homepage as its first advertising solution. The ad is currently occupied by Alfa Romeo, an Italian car brand. This advertising solution is significant because it marks the beginning of Kick's exploration of new revenue streams.

Kick has gained popularity among streamers as a Twitch alternative due to its 95% to 5% creator-friendly subscription revenue split and relaxed moderation rules. With such a favorable split for creators, generating revenue is key, even though Kick likely has a significant amount of cash to access due to its co-founders also being owners of the online casino, Stake. Kick is also exploring Kick Konnect, a program to connect its top streamers with brands for sponsored live streams.

Whether through ad placements or brand collaborations, Kick will encounter significant challenges in attracting larger brands, given the controversy surrounding the platform and its creators, which ranges from hate speech to sexual content. Household brands may not flock to Kick anytime soon, but brands with an appetite for risk that want to reach the 18 to 34 male demographic might be enticed to look into advertising on Kick. With a rise in watch time to 51.8 million hours in April from 12.8 million hours in January, and more Twitch streamers moving over to Kick, Kick is worth keeping an eye on.

What I’m Reading

  • What the surgeon general’s advisory says about social media for Kids (Washington Post)

  • The 20 Most Influential Creators Right Now (Rolling Stone)

  • The Biore-gun Violence TikTok Controversy - 4 Questions Our Industry Should Be Asking (AdAge)

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