Google Expands Paid Search Into A New, Obvious Place

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Google announced the launch of paid search results on Google Play, which will help app makers get their products discovered and help Google add another revenue source.

Google is only making the offering available to a limited set of users at first (from a pilot group of advertisers). This will happen over the course of the coming weeks.

"App discovery plays a critical role in driving your continued success, and over the past year Google has provided best practices to enhance app discovery and engagement, as well as app promotion tools to get the most out of search and display advertising for developers," says Google Play product management director Michael Siliski. "We are always looking for new ways to help you get your apps in front of potential new users. That’s why, in the next few weeks, we will begin piloting sponsored search results on Google Play, bringing our unique expertise in search ads to the store."

It probably has something to do with that revenue thing too. Google will make money on the ads while continuing to make money on app sales.

Paid search in Google Play is not something I've ever given much thought to, but thinking about it now, it's actually really surprising that Google is just now getting the ball rolling on this. Google Play hosts a reported 1.72 million apps.

As Miguel Helft at Forbes writes in an interview with Google's Sundar Pichai:

Search advertising has been the most profitable big business in the history of the Internet, generating billions in annual revenue and income for Google. After applying it to Web search, Google expanded it to queries made on YouTube. Pichai said that by using the same model on Google Play, the company will capitalize on the app store’s growing momentum.

"With more than 100 billion searches every month on Google.com, we’ve seen how search ads shown next to organic search results on Google.com can significantly improve content discovery for users and advertisers, both large and small," he adds. "Search ads on Google Play will enable developers to drive more awareness of their apps and provide consumers new ways to discover apps that they otherwise might have missed."

According to Marketing Land paid media reporter Ginny Marvin, Google's pilot test will only include app marketers, who are currently using AdWords, but their campaigns won't be tied together on the front end. The ability to buy Google Play apps in AdWords may come later, she says.

The company says it will be sharing more about the expansion of the new Google Play paid results in the coming months as it analyzes feedback and the results of the initial phase.

Ryan Whitwam at Android Police writes, "In the early days of Android, developers had to be serious nerds to pay the platform any real attention. After all, the real money was on iOS...Developers will probably be happy to have better promotional tools in the Play Store, but things are going well already."

Google says Google Play reaches over a billion people in over 190 countries. They've paid $7 billion to developers (compared to a reported $10 billion annually paid by Apple to iOS developers).

Kevin Tofel, who covers mobile for GigaOm, says Google's paid search results will probably be more appealing to those who offer paid apps, but adds that even those with free apps "might be willing to splurge on ads for their software and work toward in-app purchases for revenues."

He also makes the point that smaller developers with limited funds will be at a disadvantage to larger ones with bigger bankrolls.

Ultimately, however, Google's news should prove huge for the Android developer ecosystem over time. Think about what paid search has done for business discovery over the years, and apply it to mobile apps. For niche apps, it could be game-changing.

Google isn't giving numbers on how many searches the Play Store gets, which is unfortunate, because it would surely be nice to know for all parties involved.

Image via Google

Chris Crum

Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.