TikTok is paying creators to up its search game

TikTok is leaning in even more to its app being used like a search engine.

Creators making money on the platform will now be paid based in part on how well their content meets what other users are searching for. TikTok calls this metric “search value,” and it’s one of four core elements in determining creator payouts. TikTok announced the change as part of its new monetization program, called Creator Rewards.

“With these insights, creators can source inspiration for their content, tailor their creative strategies to meet audience interests, and create content that people want to see more of,” the company said in a blog post.

“Succession outfits,” as in what the characters of the HBO mega-hit TV show might wear.
Screenshot: Mia Sato / The Verge

The insights tool essentially lays out ideas for videos a creator could make, based on both personalized and general data. On my account, for example, TikTok flagged “Succession outfits” as a recommended topic for me to make content about. Also listed: “Herman Miller Chair,” “Fairy Grunge Room Ideas,” and “strawberry muffins.” Switching over to the more general trending tab and filtering to the “tourism” category, TikTok lists “Grand Oasis Cancun,” “budpest things to do,” and “backpacking essentials,” among other topics.

One way to read this is that it’s a case of TikTok incentivizing creators to make videos that satisfy business needs. If I search “best vacuum repair shop nyc” and there aren’t relevant videos that the platform can serve up, that’s a problem for TikTok — I’d probably leave the app and search for that on Google Maps or Yelp.

This explicit emphasis on search query-related content also signals that the platform is more seriously thinking of itself as a search engine. An Adobe report from January found that two in five people in the US use TikTok for that purpose, and one in 10 Gen Z users were more likely to use TikTok than Google. Executives at Google have warned that Search could be losing ground to TikTok.

Along with search value, the revamped creator monetization program uses originality, play duration, and audience engagement to determine how much creators earn. The program replaced the original $1 billion creator fund with a new focus on videos longer than one minute.

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By asm3a