Here’s an interesting one – Google is piloting a new initiative which will display videos of various celebrities answering commonly Googled questions about them, within search results.
As you can see, when you conduct a relevant search on Google (either within the app or on mobile web), you’ll get an option to view a video response from the celebrity in question, which expands out to a full-screen, vertical video when tapped.
It’s an interesting initiative, not only because it will no doubt inspire more people to check through and see what responses they can find from their favorite stars, but also because it utilizes vertical format, which many (many) video creators are vehemently against.
But no matter how you might feel about vertical format, the research suggests that consumers simply don't turn their phones to view video - a MOVR Mobile Overview Report from December 2014 found that smartphone users hold their phones vertically about 94% of the time, and consume all types of content in this way.
The initiative could also open the door to more innovative search formats. While its only major celebrities now (Google plans to expand the feature to ‘lesser known’ celebrities in coming months), it could also become a new way to display relevant business information and data. Imagine searching for information on what Facebook looks for when hiring and seeing a selfie-style video from their head of HR to provide an explanation.
Google’s introduced new tools along similar, context-adding lines this year, including ‘Google My Business’ posts, small, micro-blogs that can appear alongside relevant search results.
With the addition of video options, Google could be looking to create their own online hubs for businesses, with similar features to social profiles, which may provide even more value, given its position as the dominant platform for online search.
But Google is coming under more pressure on the search front – Facebook now facilitates more than 2 billion searches per day, while other social platforms, notably Pinterest, are also rising as discovery tools.
Google hasn’t been able to crack social itself, with their best hope, Google+, largely flaming out. Maybe, with new additions like this, Google can add social elements within their flagship functionality, which could lessen the impact of social search.
Of course, that’s pure speculation, there’s nothing to suggest Google’s looking any further than adding a fun, new addition to popular searches, just in time for the holidays. But still, it’s interesting to note the implications for search habits, and how Google could, theoretically, use such trends in future endeavors.
The new Google celebrity selfie videos are currently being piloted on mobile in the US.