While advertising still forms the bulk of Google's revenue, the company continuously experiments with different ways of serving ads to ensure people keep spending. Even after it realized that full-screen "interstitial" placements were turning smartphone users away, the search giant still believes mobile ads are the future, so it's followed through with its intention to bring sponsored listings to the Play Store.
Announced in February, Google's Search Ads provide Android users with "new ways to discover apps that they otherwise might have missed." Developers get the chance to put their creations front and center on the Play Store in almost the exact same way you'd see ads when you perform a normal Google search. The only difference is that sponsored apps can be listed with a description or call to action, giving them a slight edge over their ranked counterparts.
While Google has done more to balance algorithms with human curation, vendors are finding it increasingly hard to raise the profile of apps that quickly get buried. Search Ads level the playing field somewhat, but may also encourage bigger app studios to outspend smaller rivals to dominate search results. In fact, Booking.com and European app maker Nordeus are already on board, and are pleased to report that Google's new placements have worked well for them.
So, when you next pull out your phone and begin scouring the Play Store for new apps or games, know that the keywords you search for will be seized upon by developers looking to get their app noticed. However, you won't be able to miss them -- they'll be the ones with the yellow "Ad" sign next to the icon.