Google's bringing sponsored app placements to the Play Store

Google is about to allow software companies to promote their apps on the Android Play Store, a space that was previously off-limits for advertising. That means alongside regular search results, you'll soon see apps from companies with the biggest marketing budgets. The search giant has pitched it as a way to "provide consumers new ways to discover apps that they otherwise might have missed" while letting vendors raise the profile of apps that'd normally get buried. As the WSJ put it, however, the new tactic is also a way for Google to sell more advertising in the face of slowing sales.

The feature will launch to a "limited set of users... from a pilot group of advertisers" in order to gauge feedback from the ads. Promoted apps will be clearly labeled as such, just as they are in regular search results. So far, Google Play's apps search has only used algorithms and human intervention, so the changes could have a substantial impact on results.

Google may have decided to monetize Play with ads since Facebook now vacuums in a large amount of ad revenue for apps from the likes of King -- which spent almost $400 million marketing Candy Crush Saga and other games. Google took in around $10 billion in revenue from Play last year, and paid nearly $7 billion of that to developers.