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Thought ads on the Google Play Store couldn't get worse? Think again.

Search bar ads take priority over your recent search queries.

Published onMay 8, 2023

Google Play Store January 2023
Joe Hindy / Android Authority
  • Google is now offering ads and limited-time events in the Play Store search bar.
  • The ads and suggestions appear above your recent search queries, though.

Google’s main business is selling advertisements across its various platforms and services, and ads are a staple on the Play Store too. Now, it looks like the company is stepping up its ad game on the Play Store in a rather disappointing way.

9to5Google reports that Google is now displaying ads in the Play Store’s search bar. You’d ordinarily see your four most recent search queries in the search bar, but Google is adding up to three “limited-time events as well as sponsored suggestions.”

We can somewhat understand Google’s desire for search bar ads, even if the Play Store already contains loads of ad spots. What’s incredibly disappointing though is that these search bar ads actually appear above your recent search queries, suggesting that ads are more important to Google than a basic user experience feature. Check out our screenshot below.

Google Play Store search bar ads suggestions
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about suggestions in the search bar, as Google previously tested this feature in November 2022. The company claimed at the time that these weren’t paid ads but were organic content discovery spots instead. However, several screenshots from users online indeed show suggestions labeled as ads, contradicting Google’s earlier assertion.

For what it’s worth, the search bar ads are only visible to one of the Team AA members right now (as per the screenshot above). This suggests that Google is slowly rolling it out.

Nevertheless, we hope Google shifts the ads below recent searches at the very least as the current solution is inconvenient.

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