Google is bringing a personalised news feed to its search engine – both website and app versions. The move will see a Facebook-style feed implemented for users to browse through headlines and topical content based on their interests.
In reality, it’s more like Google Now squeezed into search than any kind of rival to Facebook’s social News Feed. But it’s a significant change that creates an infinite roll of space for more ads – and this could be the motivation, rather than a renewed effort to take on Facebook.
‘News Feed’ coming to Google Search
The prospect of a news feed in Google Search is interesting. As the name suggests, people go to Google to search; they’ve got something in mind and they turn to the search engine to help them find it. In other words, there’s an active search intent (unlike Facebook).
So could placing a News Feed below the search bar distract users by encouraging them to scroll rather than type? Well, Google has been testing this implementation in the US since December, so you have to imagine it’s not getting in the way of searches.
A rival to Facebook’s News Feed?
The popular talking point about Google’s “News Feed” is how the search giant wants to rival Facebook. We’re not sure this is case, though. Unless Google’s product team is delusional, there’s no way it’s going to compete with Facebook directly and the feed being implemented into Google Search doesn’t even look like it’s trying to.
This is pretty much Google Now and Google News being condensed into Google Search. For a start, there’s no social element involved with Google’s feed. Facebook revolves around content shared and engaged between its users and their friends – just like every other social network. Google’s feed, however, is based on the users own personal interests and no-one else’s.
There is one idea Google could pinch from Facebook, though.
How long before ads appear in Google’s feed?
This is the first question that popped into our head when we saw this news. Infinite vertical scrolling space for ads is a tempting prospect but they would have to be ads of a different nature. Any ads in Google’s feed would be seen pre-search, which would require a different approach to targeting. Perhaps Google would have to take the Facebook approach for these ads (interests, life events, etc.) or it could show ads based on users’ recent search histories. Either way, the search-ad dynamic would be different and there would need to be some targeting alternatives.
All speculations at this stage, of course. For now, we’ll have to settle for an ad-free news feed in Google Search.