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Google experiments with surfacing TikTok and Instagram videos in search

You might not have to hunt for a favorite clip.
Google logo on an iPhone
Shiwa ID on Unsplash
Jon Fingas
Jon Fingas|@jonfingas|December 30, 2020 9:29 AM

It might soon be easier to track down a favorite social video without launching the relevant app. TechCrunch has confirmed reports from Brian Freiesleben, Search Engine Roundtable and others that Google is testing a search feature that highlights clips from Instagram and TikTok in a “Short Videos” carousel. Search for certain terms (such as “packers”) on your phone and you’ll see easy-to-tap thumbnails for a host or relevant videos that play in your browser.

Google told TC the pilot was an early, limited feature that won’t pop up for every search query. It’s available through either your browser or the Google search app on Android and iOS. The company didn’t say if or when the carousel would expand to more searches and users.

The internet giant has been indexing videos for years, but it has typically focused on dedicate (and often desktop-oriented) video sites like YouTube. This test caters expressly to the social media crowd.

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It’s not a surprising strategy. If you have a quick way to play a social video in your browser or search app, you’re more likely to stay on Google’s pages (and thus generate ad money) than leave for the Instagram or TikTok apps. Still, you might not complain if it saves time and surfaces videos you’d otherwise miss.

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Google experiments with surfacing TikTok and Instagram videos in search