Why I’d Rather Use TikTok Than Google Search’s AI Overviews     – CNET

Why I’d Rather Use TikTok Than Google Search’s AI Overviews – CNET

Google’s AI Overviews are coming for Search in a big way. But it isn’t reinventing the wheel.

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AI Overviews were one of many, many AI announcements Google made at its annual developers conference Google I/O this week. Between updates to Google’s Gemini AI line-up, introducing Project Astra and Donald Glover showing off a new AI video generator, Google dropped the news that its search engine is going to be getting major AI-powered updates, starting with US users this week. 

example of what AI Overviews looks like in Google Search

This is what AI Overviews look like during a Google search query.

Screenshot by Peter Butler

AI Overviews are the AI-generated summaries, including text, images and sometimes videos, that appear at the top of a Google search page when you enter a query. Google will reference sources it deems authoritative and trustworthy — and those sources are still listed below — but the top answer box is all AI-generated. It’s a significant change that will affect how every user interacts with Google Search, to put it mildly.

I’m not going to go into all the potential ramifications of this; experts smarter than me have been theorizing those for years. But while Google was showcasing the newly revamped AI Overviews during the keynote, I couldn’t help but feel like everything it was highlighting as the ultimate user-friendly design is exactly why I like using TikTok for search.

In the keynote, Google’s head of Search Liz Reid showed an example of AI Overviews helping you find the right anniversary dinner spot in Dallas. She talked about how new multistep reasoning lets you enter longer, more specific queries. And in the AI-generated results, you can see restaurants organized by their ambiance. You can also see that some of the top results compiled are TikTok videos, which raises the question: Why wouldn’t I just go to TikTok first?

A 2024 report from Adobe found that people are doing just that. Over 40% of Americans use TikTok as a search engine, particularly for younger folks like Gen Z (64%) and millennials (49%).

TikTok video results on search page

Using TikTok has a search engine has become more popular.

Screenshot by Katelyn Chedraoui

As one such Gen Z-er, it makes more sense to me to search on TikTok. When I’m interested in buying a new makeup product, I want to see a video of someone who looks like me using it. When I’m planning a trip, I want to figure out what the must-visit spots are from both locals and travel influencers. Google, even with AI Overviews, can’t give me that level of detail and personal connection.

I’m not entirely sure why TikTok feels like the more obvious choice, because as search engines, they face the same issues. I still have to sort through results for reliable information, wade through ads and translate that research into action. But there’s a convenience to TikTok that’s hard to ignore, even with Google’s AI updates. And maybe there’s something in my lizard brain that still abides by the “see it to believe it” motto, even in the age of AI-generated images and videos. 

As Google rolls out AI Overviews to US users this week, it will be interesting to see how it’s received — especially since as of now, there’s no obvious way to disable the feature. But for me, I think there are more cases when TikTok will be more helpful, convenient and personal than Google Search with AI.


Katelyn Chedraoui

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