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Google Will Let Mobile Games Stream in Search So That Mobile Game Makers Will Buy Search Ads

App streaming comes to Google's cornerstone, search ads.

King / Candy Crush Saga

The quixotic push inside Google to make the mobile Web indistinguishable from mobile apps continues apace.

Here’s the latest turn: Google will let you try out a mobile game right inside the search results page, before downloading it. And Google will let game developers pay for the privilege. It’s part of Google’s ongoing effort to squeeze more ad revenue from mobile and its business cornerstone, search.

The feature is coming in the “next few weeks,” per Google, but the search giant is announcing it on Monday because it’s day one of the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Curious mobile users can click on a button directly within search to test out a game. They have ten minutes to toy around before downloading. (It’ll look like this gif here.)

For developers, the trick offers a new avenue — paid search — for recruiting new users. Most money for gamers is made inside the app, so some developers may be reluctant to move away from direct downloads. But, in theory, the streaming method lets them grab devoted game players who have tried out the game, like it, and will stick around and buy stuff therein.

For Google, it’s another way to nab the ample flow of app promotional dollars — a flow that Facebook has largely cornered. Over the past year, Google has rolled out a stream of mobile app advertising tools as the company has prioritized ways to fortify its central business. It added ads to the Play store so developers could pay to get noticed there. In November, Google started testing app streaming in organic search results with a handful of apps; it brought the feature to ads within apps a month later.

Now, developers can promote their apps with streaming inside search, too.

Google’s share of app advertising is rising steadily, although Facebook is still out in front, according to industry sources. (The companies don’t help with much disclosure on this.)

App streaming is a technically impressive feat and getting more attention inside Google. But it’s still unclear if the rest of the mobile world will pick it up. Google’s tests are just with a handful of apps for now. And it’s just on Android. It’s unlikely Apple will be as enthusiastic about these experiments as Google is.

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