The ad network has announced that some time in the next few weeks it will be running a pilot test of a new sponsored results feature. App developers will have the chance to pay to get their app promoted to the first place in the search results.
Google says the pilot will be shown to a limited number of users, who will begin to see adverts from a pilot group of advertisers which were already buying Google search ads for their apps.
You can see a couple examples in the GIF at right.
So is anyone surprised by the news? I'm not.
We might call Google a tech company, but in reality they get most of their revenue from selling adverts. And like any news publisher can tell you, one can only sell so many ads before running out of space.
Once that happens, the only way to boost revenue is to either charge more for ads (which often isn't possible) or to sell ad placement nestled among the content. In the case of a news site, this would be called native advertising. Google, on the other hand, is calling it sponsored search results.
Google has been selling the lead spots in its organic search results for years and years. The ads have always been marked as ads, but that doesn't change the fact that the first results you see went to the highest bidder.
So how long before Google expands this to include the other content it sells in Google Play? They also sell movies, music, and ebooks, and while that doesn't amount to a whole lot of revenue there's still some money to be made there.
Do you suppose authors and publishers would be interested?