Google has recently announced it’s plans to incorporate a “Facebook-style” feed into it’s search engine homepage.
In December 2017 Google started a trial for a simple version of this feature on it’s smartphone app. The feature saw a change from the famously tidy and blank search bar home page to a news feed that resembled those seen on Facebook.
The move comes as a response from the company to remain competitive in a time where users are increasingly turning to Facebook or Twitter as new ways to access content.
Mattia Littunen, a senior research analyst at Enders Analysis explains how:
“Facebook’s news feed is one of its main rivals. It is competing with other ways of accessing content.”
The addition of this feature will make it possible for users to see content they may be interested in before they search.
To avoid the so-called “filter bubble effect” where people only follow content aligned with their pre-existing point of view, Google’s feed will include stories from a variety of publishers. In addition, when available, the feed will allow you to fact check.
The ability to fact check comes as a response to the company’s past history of having allowed fake news stories to run in their sites. Ben Gomes, who runs search at google, has said that the company has implemented a variety of changes to prevent similar misinformation from spreading in the feed.
“Google has a strong incentive to make search as useful as possible” – Mattia Littunen.
However, the company will be competing with social media sites’ news feeds which have the added benefit of interaction, real-time conversations, and content endorsement by friends.
The Google Feed’s competitiveness is directly derived from the company’s long term project of anticipating and prioritising user needs. As a result, whilst Facebook and other social site feeds prioritise the newest updates, Google’s feed will take a different approach.
Google will prioritise what it thinks is most relevant to the user, regardless of the time of publication. This means that Google may take an article which was published a year ago and re market it to a user that missed the story, but which Google believes will be interested in the topic.
Image source: Phone Arena
Additionally, when users search for a topic, the new update will allow them to “follow” subjects in order for regular updates to appear on their feed. Conversely, the ability to opt out of topics will also be available by choosing “done with this story”.
Users will also be able to tell google that they don’t want to see more articles written by particular publishers. There is also some talk about making it a possibility to follow certain publishers.
For digital marketers, this development will mean an entire new platform for ads in the form of sponsored content. Search ads have proven to be more lucrative than Facebook ads, and as google is a business based on selling advertising it is a sure thing that the feed, which gives them new contact points with consumers, will bring new options for advertisers.