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Google could lose Gen Z to TikTok and Instagram someday — here's why

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(Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • TikTok and Instagram are threatening to dethrone Google Search as the go-to search engine among Gen Z users.
  • Nearly 40% of this demographic are searching through TikTok and Instagram instead of Google Search.
  • The search giant is shaking up its core services in order to stay ahead of the competition.

Google is at risk of losing Gen Z to close rivals TikTok and Instagram in the future, as younger users are turning to social apps for online searches. That is why the search giant is now shaking things up to keep pace with the competition.

Prabhakar Raghavan, a Google senior vice president, revealed during the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference that almost 40% of Gen Z prefers using social apps like TikTok and Instagram for online queries instead of Google Search and Maps (via TechCrunch (opens in new tab)). These apps have become the go-to platforms for many younger users when searching for places to dine, for example, according to Raghavan.

His remark was based on internal Google research. Raghavan, who oversees its Knowledge & Information group, has admitted that TikTok's bite-sized video format is dramatically changing the internet search landscape.

"We keep learning, over and over again, that new internet users don’t have the expectations and the mindset that we have become accustomed to," Raghavan said at the event. He added that younger users are making queries in an entirely different way.

Raghavan said Google is beefing up Search with new capabilities in order to win back young eyeballs again. For example, the Mountain View-based company was reportedly negotiating with ByteDance and Meta (opens in new tab) to index TikTok videos and Instagram Reels within search.

Google also recently introduced the Maps Live View feature, which allows users to see their surroundings by panning the camera on their Android phones over an area. The experience is made more intuitive with virtual hints on the screen like arrows or text.

TikTok has already proven to be a serious threat to YouTube, surpassing Google's video-sharing platform in terms of average viewership last year. 

The new research findings signal the ByteDance-owned platform's potential to eat into Search and Maps as well, if the tech giant doesn't keep up. Otherwise, Google's new improvements for Maps and Search are in danger of going to waste.

Jay Bonggolto
Jay Bonggolto

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.