App promotions could sneak into Play Store search recommendations

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They are not yet targeted ads


For many months, the Google Play Store has been limited to horizontally scrolling carousels in different tabs, labeled as Recommended for you. Perhaps due to the ever-growing need to make the most of the Play Store’s monetization potential, Google was spotted testing ads for certain apps that were placed directly in the Play Store’s search box.


When you open the Google Play Store and tap the search bar at the top to jump straight to an app, you typically see four recent searches below the bar. Tapping on any of those recent searches will reopen them for you. 9to5Google reports that ads for three different apps will replace these search history entries in version 33.0.17-21 of the app distribution platform. Search history appears as soon as you type the first character of your search query, followed by auto-completed suggestions.

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We don’t see ads in Play Store search on our devices yet, but Google might run an A/B test for them. Interestingly, the report says that the person never interacted with the promoted apps and that they are all games – Summoners War: Chronicles, Call of Duty Mobile Season 10, and Fishdom Solitaire. Call of Duty is a popular title that’s often promoted in the Suggested For You section of the Games tab on the Play Store, but its placement in search suggestions is new.

These ads might help people discover new apps, but they don’t seem to target individual users based on their browsing history. There is a small chance that an ad positioned this way will captivate a user who intends to search for a specific app. Perhaps optimizing their visibility to persist as the search query is entered will help these ads gain traction. If you’re looking for more organic app suggestions, we recommend checking out our picks for this year’s best apps on the Play Store.

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