TikTok Tests AI-Powered Search Results with ‘Search Highlights’ Feature

TikTok is testing a more advanced search results page, incorporating generative AI into the mix. This new feature, named “search highlights,” introduces snippets of AI-generated content at the top of some search results pages. Clicking on these snippets opens a new page with the complete response. During tests, AI-generated results were found for queries like recipes or topics such as “best laptops 2024.” A page explaining the results indicates that the material is generated using ChatGPT, and TikTok displays this content “when [the algorithm] finds them relevant to your search.” However, the feature is currently limited, as not all queries yield AI-generated answers.

The AI search results page on TikTok specifies that the content is sourced from ChatGPT, and the algorithm shows these answers when they are pertinent to a search. This feature is named “AI Smart Search.”

Additionally, there is a similar feature called “search highlights” that is not labeled as AI-generated. These also appear at the top of search results, but it is unclear where the information originates, whether it is summarizing videos or sourced from elsewhere. TikTok has not yet responded to requests for comment regarding these features.

TikTok has progressively enhanced its in-app search capabilities. Last fall, TikTok began testing the inclusion of Google Search results in its in-app results page, essentially acting as a link back to Google. TikTok has also experimented with adding links to Wikipedia, IMDb, and other websites directly in the app’s search results.

TikTok is aiming to leverage the habits of its users, particularly younger ones, who often use the app as a search engine to look up restaurant or product recommendations instead of using platforms like Google Search. Similar to Google, TikTok now appears to be emphasizing AI-generated results by placing them above content from creators.

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