The Marketplace Boom   //   February 28, 2024

TikTok Shop listings are surfacing on Google Shopping

TikTok Shop is starting to look to other platforms to help grow its business.

In recent weeks, sponsored TikTok Shop listings began to pop up in Google Shopping – in particular with results for beauty and skincare products currently sold on TikTok Shop. Through Google searches for trendy beauty products like “nail art” and “dior lip oil dupe”, some results now feature links to smaller sellers on TikTok Shop, in addition to products from more well-known brands like E.l.f, Tower 28 and Rhode. A spokesperson from TikTok confirmed the company’s Google Shopping ads, but declined to comment on specifics, saying the marketing team is constantly testing new promotional strategies.

It’s still early days for TikTok Shop, as the program officially rolled out in the U.S. last fall. But the company has been forthcoming about its plans to grow TikTok Shop in the coming years. And the latest Google ad rankings show the company wants to bring outside traffic from third-party channels to its e-commerce platform — including through search ads. 

Juozas Kaziukėnas, founder and CEO of retail data analytics firm Marketplace Pulse, said he has also noticed TikTok Shop listings appearing in Google’s Shopping tab recently. “Google remains the most popular search engine for shopping,” Kaziukėnas said, although some data suggests Amazon has overtaken the top spot, “And TikTok capturing some of that is not surprising.” 

Kaziukėnas said the way products currently sell on TikTok Shop largely revolves around the content created on the platform to promote the products. “However, it’s not an alternative or replacement for search-based shopping,” Kaziukėnas said.

As a well-established search engine with a major advertising component, Kaziukėnas said Google Shopping’s results also allow people to compare similar styles, features and prices across retailers. “This is not TikTok’s strength,” he added. “TikTok Shop is for impulse buying when you are flipping through videos on the app, and one of them interests you enough for you to buy the product it is featuring.”

Since TikTok Shop is still relatively new, it’s too soon to tell whether the company’s long term plans include heavily investing in advertising on third-party platforms. Mike Ryan, head of e-commerce insights at Smarter Ecommerce, said thus far “the data is scarce,” so there hasn’t been enough activity to measure TikTok Shop’s ads success yet. 

According to Smarter Ecommerce tracking, Ryan said, “I couldn’t detect the [TikTok Shop] ads until mid-December,” or the week of December 11. “I would describe the presence as ephemeral, or very niche right now.” That also explains why results appear selectively, he said, and appear to show up for certain product categories such as cosmetics and skincare.

Google SEO is typically seen as a bottom-of-the-funnel channel to capture customers. However, Ryan said these new ads signal the company’s ambitions to promote its e-commerce operation on other platforms. “It doesn’t totally surprise,” Ryan said of TikTok Shop infiltrating Google results, adding that Shopify will soon be advertising on Google and Meta to promote its sellers’ sites. “I do get a little bit worried, because all these deep-pocketed platforms can potentially take traffic away from typical search-focused advertisers,” Ryan said.   

Still, Kaziukėnas doesn’t think TikTok Shop will rely on search-based shopping as a major customer acquisition channel, “and thus their ads on Google shopping are not going to be key drivers.” 

“TikTok Shop is a shopping experience self-contained inside of the TikTok app and driven by content, rather than search,” he said.