TikTok parent company launches ad-free search engine in China

ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, has launched an ad-free search engine in China: Wukong. This puts it in competition with market leader Baidu from Tencent and challengers Microsoft Bing and Quark from Alibaba.

It is the second attempt by ByteDance to set up a search engine, reports South China Morning Post. Baidu makes extensive use of advertisements in search results and has therefore received a lot of criticism. Alibaba Quark does not.

ByteDance seems to want to make money by placing results from its own services, such as the Chinese TikTok variant Douyin, prominently in the search results. If the search engine becomes popular, those services will receive more traffic from search results. Many search engines use this mechanism. For example, Google often prefers its own services and therefore encounters problems with governments.

According to Chinese media, Wukong has been in the Apple App Store and the various Chinese download stores for Android since this week. It is a silent release; the company has not said anything more about it.