Future Tech China: Douyin’s Video Search Strategies

Douyin is massively increasing investment in video search capabilities. What will this accomplish, and for whom?

  1. For brands: It builds up more content angles.

  2. For creators: It increases the potential for a creator’s content to be found.

  3. For Douyin: It increases ad revenue by opening up search ads.

What’s interesting is that Douyin, as a short video platform, was originally built precisely on not having to search for anything. The app famously incorporated intuitive swipe functionality into its highly personalized feed so users wouldn’t have to search for content manually, allowing its algorithm to command the full attention of viewers.

But as the primary form of content moves from text to video (looking at you, large media publications), the search process is evolving as well. Baidu still rules in China when it comes to text search, yet brands and users alike clearly prefer mobile platforms over websites, leaving most content inaccessible via Baidu search. And Douyin, in its vast wisdom, is seizing the opportunity.

Last week, Douyin founder and Bytedance China CEO Kelly Zhang shared her hope for the platform to become an “encyclopedia of human civilization” and revealed that Douyin’s video search feature now has 550 million monthly active users (MAUs) — an announcement that succeeded in generating media attention and boosting its profile.

But the number of MAUs for Douyin search, while enormous, is not terribly significant. Douyin already has more than 600 million daily active users, so if most of them just try to do a video search within a one-month period, they would be counted in the MAU total. By way of comparison, Instagram search is notoriously poor, but users may still feel compelled to engage with it on occasion.

Instagram’s negligence in the search department may also be partly responsible for its inability to dethrone YouTube’s dominance on educational and general “how-to” content. The ability to engineer algorithms and properly categorize content so that it can be found are things YouTube learned from its parent Google and understandably took advantage of. Continue to read the full article here