Google recently announced that over the next few weeks, Google Play ads will begin to appear in the search results on Google Play. Google shared a gif on how it would look in practice, which looks a lot like how Google delivers sponsored results in web search. For now, this is being released to a "limited set of users... from a pilot group of advertisers".
This is big news for mobile app marketers and reaction is mixed.
Is this another avenue for the best monetizing apps (currently games) to buy up inventory and the "rich get richer" - resulting in an even worse discovery experience for mobile users? Or does this open up a brand new channel for publishers to reach their target audience in a new cost-effective way? First - from Google's perspective, some of the ad spend that has flowed through Facebook and mobile ad networks can/will now flow through Google. Why wouldn't Google do this?
One potential drawback could be that a promoted app could then impact the organic search results.
When users download a promoted app, the spike will surely result in a higher ranking in organic search results. Resulting in more downloads. Is the real value of sponsored search results in Google Play in the opportunity to spike an app's organic search ranking?
What about the impact to publishers not named King and Supercell?
With more than 100 billion monthly searches on Google Play - sponsored search represents a huge opportunity for app publishers. Overall - Google Play ads and sponsored search appears to be a very positive development for publishers. The current model for advertising is inventory-based, without any real keyword targeting outside of the category of the app the ad appears in. The likes of King (Candy Crush) and Super Cell (Clash of Clans) eat up a lot of available mobile ad network inventory. That means - a messaging app competes for mobile app ad inventory with Candy Crush in unrelated apps. With keyword targeting on Google Play, a messaging app could target a wide range of feature-based keywords and phrases where it just wouldn't make sense for an app like Candy Crush to bid at the same rates. Like web search, and organic results in the Apple App Store and Google Play, relevance matters and will increase in significance. This will be a space we watch closely and plan to share our findings and experiences. In fact - now is a good time to sign up for our blog!