Gen Z Prefers TikTok and YouTube Over Google for Searches, Study Finds

Key Takeaways:
  • Gen Z prefers TikTok and YouTube for searches, not Google.
  • They like the real, varied information on social media.
  • Google is creating new AI tools to win back Gen Z.

Google, long the go-to for online searches, is seeing a notable shift in popularity among younger users, with many in Generation Z choosing social media platforms like TikTok and YouTube over the traditional search engine.

According to recent studies, only 46% of Gen Z, defined as individuals aged 18 to 24, start their searches on Google. This marks a significant change in preferred search methods, especially when compared to the 58% of millennials, those aged 25 to 39, who still begin their search inquiries on Google.

Interestingly, 21% of Gen Z users are now turning to TikTok to initiate their searches, while another 5% start on YouTube, as reported by Axios. This trend underlines a broader movement towards social media platforms as viable sources of information.

Fred Cook, director of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Center for Public Relations, points out the benefits of this shift. “You get more information in smaller chunks from different sources,” he explains, highlighting how social media can efficiently deliver varied perspectives and concise information.

Users often find content on platforms like TikTok to be more authentic, frequently validated by community interactions in the comments section where personal experiences and additional context are shared. This aspect of social media search is highly valued by those who seek more than just facts — they want insights from real people.

Furthermore, the approach to searching varies depending on the intent. One respondent mentioned using Google for quick answers and news updates, but turning to social media for inspiration and personal stories, suggesting a strategic use of different platforms based on specific needs.

Despite these trends, Google remains the dominant search engine globally. To maintain its position and appeal to younger audiences, Google is investing in new technologies. Among these innovations is the AI tool known as the Search Generative Experience, which integrates search results with ratings and comments through artificial intelligence. This tool is proving popular with Gen Z, indicating that Google may well reclaim its appeal with this pivotal demographic.

Amaya Simon
Amaya Simon
Amaya Simon is a seasoned programmer specializing in smart devices, AI, and machine learning. With a Master's in Computer Science and a decade of experience, she writes to demystify complex tech. Outside work, she's a robot-building, origami-loving mom.


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