Don’t look now, but Sponsored Apps are coming to Google Play


google play sponsored apps gif

Google Play’s search results have long been clean of advertisements with Google looking to ranking algorithms, editor-curated lists and other standard practices to let the best apps naturally bubble to the top. But developers will soon be able to pay for their app to be featured above all the rest.

Google has announced Sponsored Apps for Google Play. It sounds just like you’d imagine: you search for, say, “recipe app,” and a “sponsored” app will be the first result before taking you to the rest of the pack. It’s just like the ads you see across Twitter, Facebook and Google Search itself.

Google says they’re doing this to help developers get their apps to more eyes, which would in turn help them make more money. Their 2014 payout of over $7 billion to app developers who run ads is used as incentive.

This isn’t open to anyone and everyone just yet. Google is working with a limited, select group of partners to trial the program in the early going. If all goes well we imagine it will be opened up to anyone willing to dish out the coin needed for prime advertising real estate.

There’s sure to be a good deal of backlash within the community about the move, but if Google wants to make Google Play a more viable platform for developers to make income then they have to start allowing developers to get the most eyes they can on their app. It’s hard to do that with millions of other apps to compete with, so this is sure to be the most lucrative and effective route to that goal.

[via Google]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. go on girl, get that money!

  2. FAIL

  3. as long as they don’t try to shove the sponsor app/games down your throat i am cool with it.

    1. seems thats the direction they are goin though =

      1. no, i am talking like the “in-game ads” method where the ad takes up the whole screen or you have to watch a video or something. a small link i can deal with.

        1. oh oh!! duh. yeah, I get games like that some times and quickly uninstall it. Dont want to see 30 second commercials every 5 minutes in order to play a game. I learned to deal with it on the TV Streaming apps I have like Comedy Central, Fox etc tho.

          1. @disqus_ySX0UtPmGb:disqus stated the same feelings as me. I trust the apps that get the “stamp of approval” from Google with the blue symbol next to the apps.

          2. That’s video ads for long videos. Video ada for YouTube videos can go do one (adblock and third party YouTube apps FTW).

            Game ads should be free demos and/or ads for the DEMOS, displayed as a menu option for such games (and possibly on loading screens).

  4. I guess the Play Store has officially jumped the shark today… this is terrible news and I hope someone makes an Xposed module to rid us of this form of pollution.

    1. I’m not sure I have a big problem with this. Usually when I’m firing up the PlayStore app I’m searching for a specific app I read about elsewhere. I dunno how this new move would hamper that for me.

      1. Three or four ‘Suggested’ apps show up before, making you waste precious seconds multiple times eventually leading to an elongated Play Store visit.

        For the general consumer, they download a crap app instead of the most relevant to their initial search.

        1. Well that’s my other question, if you’re not considered part of the “general” android user crowd how would this seriously hamper your search for a specific app?

          Without playing around with these changes it still appears to me as a MINOR nuisance. The strong emotional reaction this is change is creating is still puzzling me.

          1. Eventually, Google Play will be targeted even more at casual, freemium users. The investment for premium content would be even higher, meaning that premium content could all but disappear from Android (at least at Google Play).

            To be honest, I really wish a “proper” app shop would come out, with congruent search and genres, and featuring only completely free or premium apps (or free apps with ONLY premium mode iap unlocks).

          2. Yeah it’s just not going to be a major problem. If there’s a specific app you’re searching for that does indeed exist in the store this wont prevent me from getting to it.

      2. Google wouldnt be doing this if it made them no money. Developers wont be paying for search rankings if it had no effect. All in all Google feel it will make a difference, they will be telling developers it will make a difference and developers will ultimately pay them the money. In your case it might not make a difference but you may be in the minority otherwise the whole system will just collapse because developers wont pay the money.

      3. The average user may not understand the difference and/or is only casually searching for things. This may increasead clocks and downloads, promoting freemium junk apps, while encouraging Google to do the same with more and more parts of Google Play.

        1. That’s why it’s really not a concern.

    2. I know, right? Moronic developers trying to make more money for the apps that they provide to you for the cost of a candy bar or a beer. Shame on them!

      1. This is very flawed logic. These “sponsored” listings don’t say anything about the quality or worth of these apps – they are merely ads. I pay for quality apps and have zero problems with developers making money – but to clutter up an app with sponsored app placements is hurting the users experience.

        This scheme only allows crap to float to the top of the search listing.

        1. Like I said, I don’t know how this hampers someone’s search for an app they have in mind or browsing through categories. A minor nuisance at worst.

          1. At the very least, it will clutter the search listing. Anything that hurts the user experience needs to be avoided, especially when it doesn’t benefit the user. Making money from someone clicking on a sponsored placement when they thought it was simply an app ranked highest in relevancy is a terrible business practice and shows a lack of respect for the user.

          2. I really shouldn’t comment on this until I play with this new change, then I can give ya a more informed opinion.

          3. If you aren’t using an ad blocker on your phone or browser, you can get an idea of how it’ll work by simply doing a google search. I would hate the idea of searching for something and getting results based on paid placement rather than popularity, rating or relevancy.

          4. It’s the start of a while sh1t-slide into how Facebook devolved everyone’s newsfeed into the current ad-infested time-vampire, with no actual posts by your friends or family, and which no one actually reads anymore.

            Google has realised that, as the front page of Google play isn’t getting any interest from users, then they need to make the already anaemic internal search just as irrelevant, too.

            I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the future, actual app pages will be buried under ads for rival ones, too. Imagine searching for a top, premium game, clicking the link, and then having to scroll down past “sponsored similar apps” before you can find the app you were looking for?

          5. If things get way too crowded there will be enough noise created for force the hand of these folks to change things.

      2. Are you being serious??? Some people act like devs are some sort of god. They make plenty of money. They get very greedy. I paid 5 dollars for Launcher Pro. Guess what? Yeah, you know that story. Ads are getting out of control.

        1. Although I can’t comment on Launcher Pro, and although I agree that some devs or publishers don’t understand pricing structures for mobile properly (either too expensive for premium, charging for features that should be free, or “pay-to-win” freemium), there ARE those who are not so greedy/ignorant to correct pricing.

          Also, some of the dev companies out there are more akin to startups or part-time companies. They are comprised of small teams (possibly freelance, part time, full time, or a mix of all three), which produces apps in between making software for business clients (debugging, wiring simple scripts or programmes for businesses, etc). Some companies are comprised of just one person at home.

      3. Listen hear dummy….this is not app developers being paid for ad clicks…this about developers having to pay to have their apps listed above the rest. The more developers who do this the more money Google scrapes off the top and as a result crap apps by developers who pay more can be pushed to the top. To rub salt into the wounds….with all the copied apps in the store a developer can come up with a great new app (never done before) and become popular and hit the top of the charts….then 3 weeks later the 100’s of copycats come along, out spend the developer by paying Google to rank their app higher and suddenly the developer who took a risk and developed something new is bag in the poor house…..yeah this is great news.

        1. Guy, why the need to devolve to name calling? How old are you?

  5. Odd… I seem to be in the minority here. This is GREAT news. It’s going to open Google Play as a more viable place to put app development hours in because you can now advertise it to the consumers. I also look forward to app developers being able to say in their own advertisements outside of Google Play, “Find it on Google Play. Search ‘AppX'” and they can pay for sponsorship and it be the first result. I *HATE* searching for an app if Google doesn’t rank the app very high…

    1. It depends on how the do it. It shouldn’t be to expensive otherwise you would only see ads from big companies. I don’t really mind if the works the same way the do with Gmail

      1. If it is NOT too expensive then everyone will do it which means the net effect of everyone paying it is the same as if no one pays for it…except that Google rakes in the money and developers are out billions (accumulatvie speaking). If it IS too expensive then only rich developers will do it leaving the poor developers wondering if it is all worth it. Some in between may decide to sacrifice app quality leaving some development/testing funds for paying Google so their app can be found easier in the Google Play store. Considering how app quality is already higher in the Apple Appstore I don’t see how this is anything good for Android…it is just a money grab by Google because the freemium model (which they promoted as being good) is not making Google enough money. Apple who prefers paid apps take their cut from the initial sale and users no longer have to bother about in app purchases to make an app useable.

        All up…I don’t think is a good turn of events.

    2. Here’s the problem: Whenever someone pays to have their listing show up on top of everyone else’s, it says nothing to the relevance or quality of those apps.

      You can clearly see this in search results on already – paid placements are NOT the best results based on your search. Do you want to now have irrelevant, low-quality apps show up on your search results? I don’t.

      1. So what if it doesn’t say anything for the quality or relevance of the app? No one is implying it does, it can be a way for smaller developers(depending on price) to get their app noticed that would otherwise fall to the bottom. In the end the user makes the decision whether to install an app or not, that hasn’t changed.

        1. “So what if it doesn’t say anything for the quality or relevance of the app?”

          As a user, I want to see apps that are relevant – not apps that have paid placements. Developers can find other ways to promote their apps – like blogs or YouTube channels that do app reviews. You don’t have to advertise to get your app noticed – and advertising tends to have the opposite effect. Do you want a famous or infamous app?

          1. Okay, and google wants to make more money and I’m sure developers wanted another way to be noticed. Advertisements in a STORE is not a new thing. Google is an advertisement company, you can expect every aspect of a service they provide to eventually incorporate ads into it. It will probably be implemented the same way they started placing ads in the Gmail app, it’s very obviously labeled as an advertisement and very easily ignored. This is really nothing to get fired up about.

          2. There are ads in the gmail app? Good thing most people use third party apps for gmail, then, isn’t it?

        2. Except smaller devs WON’T be able to succeed with this. Bigger and/or richer companies will inevitably pay more money to have one, or more apps permanently at the top. Want a great, premium racing game? Expect to see “Need for Speed” at the top, permanently.

          I foresee the “Similar Apps” sections also getting this treatment, so that the same lineup of boring, but established freemium games and apps stay at the front/top of the list for years to come (as freemium games, although “updated”, are rarely replaced with a sequel).

  6. I don’t really see this as a big deal. One advertisement at the top of something related to a subject I searched seems rather small. Especially if it is being done the way it is being shown in the pic/video in the article.

    I kinda hope that they are slowing going to a more monitored play store. I think they are going to have to start going the route of manually approving/denying apps into the store and this could be a way to help fund that effort. (one could hope I suppose)

  7. I am with Don on this one… As long as it doesn’t get pushy I am cool with it…

  8. Although I usually hate ads that you can’t disable and creep their way up everywhere, this actually looks like the perfect place to display them. You search for recipe apps and you’re shown an ad about a recipe app? Why not, as long as it clearly displays the fact it’s sponsored, and it still lets you access the other ones…

  9. Could be a good thing. Devs may get more paying customers and rid us of the freemium model more.

    1. I don’t feel freemiums are leaving anytime soon…..way too much cash to be made

  10. May Be This Will Be Popular Very Soon…!!

  11. Don’t like the sound of this at all

  12. So, Google is not making enough on their percentage of the app sales? Now they want to double dip? I really hate the state of business now a days.

  13. Yeah, because the solution to the poor search capabilities of the Play Store (amazing when you consider Google’s core business) is to allow developers to pay for a place at the top of the listing?

    I really, really despair of Google sometimes.

  14. I plan to ignore these ad results just like I do in Google searches.

    1. And I will do the same as I have been….”show me the money”

  15. So you’re going to double dip pretty much. Not only are you making money off having the developer on there, and then a cut for the sales, NOW you want them to pay to be noticed.

    Only the big developers and companies that have the money will benefit from this, smaller developers with no bank roll will be even further alienated.

    Bad move Google, relevance and reviews is the most important ranking in an app store, hell even popularity gets better results. Manufacturers are already paying for Google Services to be on their device, the dependency of the Play Store for the device does not justify ads. Greedy Google.

  16. Anyone who thinks this is a good idea has rocks in their head. The author does not get it…he says that it will allow developers to be more profitable as they can ensure more eyes on their apps.
    How is this so. So if every develop all pay the same amount then they are all back to square one in ther search ranking except they are all worse off as they have all had to fork out money for no change…except Google who manages to scoop in all the money despite no change. This is of course an extreme case but it demonstrates that if you want to make money (and that is why apps are developed) then you better be ready to pay up.

    What this will actually do is further cement iOS into the primary development platform and Android to be an after thought because small app developers who currently hope that popularity of their app (you know..the best apps out there) will result in the top searches will no longer believe this. They know it is now related to who pays the overlord the most money…and of course they probably don’t even know if what they pay makes a difference because the richer app developers will simply out spend them.

    Google supposedly purchased Android to ensure they were not cut out of the smartphone market….but now they have majority market share the abuse is slowing setting in. They are trying their best to ring every cent out of the market. Android OEMs are making next to no profit and now they want to screw the developers too…nice one.

  17. Now to wait for ways that will disable this.

    1. Easy, just do what most of us do; search for apps via Google web search and/or by visiting sites like this (for new apps and games), and then click on the links to arrive at Google Play.

      Google Play isn’t really a place to surf around and search for new apps. The main page is an advert for freemium tat, semi-pornographic books and overpriced, old films.

      1. It’s what I do already anyways, so I guess I won’t need some ad blocking apps.

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