Google is experimenting with a tool that could eventually let any public figure, brand or organization post their content directly into the company's search engine. Dubbed "Google Posts", Google first started using the new format for search results earlier in 2016 to allow US presidential candidates to post their views and rebuttals right into its search engine in real-time.
The company calls the tool an "experimental new podium on Google" that is currently limited to the 2016 US presidential candidates on its dedicated website. "In the future, we plan to make it available to other prominent figures and organizations. If you're interested, please join the waitlist."
The expansion seems to have already begun as the company has extended the features to a select group of small businesses and could offer them to big brands, celebrities and other public figures soon.
The company's foray into the commercial realm was first noticed by search expert Mike Blumenthal who was searching "engagement rings Buffalo" when he came across a dedicated stream of "card" posts for local seller Andrew Jewellers.
Described as a "new way to hear directly from candidates themselves, in real-time – right in Google Search results", Google's cards show up as a curated Twitter feed-like stream of ads that can be swiped, clicked or tapped on to expand for more information. Clicking on one of the cards opens up a full-screen presentation of the same content which you can share directly on social media from the search engine. However, you cannot like or comment on any of the posts.
For presidential candidates, the feature also allows them to post their stances on specific political issues such as gun control, abortion, immigration and foreign policy.
"This experimental feature helps voters make more informed choices, and levels the playing field for candidates to share ideas and positions on issues they may not have had a chance to address during the debate," Google said in a blog post in January. "By publishing long-form text, photos and videos throughout the debate, campaigns can now give extended responses, answer questions they didn't get a chance to on stage, and rebut their opponents."
Google is not charging businesses for the privilege, yet. Besides being an influential tool for political campaigns, the experiment could work well for businesses looking to attract attention and prove to be a valuable revenue stream for Google should it decide to start charging for the service.
"This is an experimental search feature we are testing, but it is not tied to Google+," a spokesperson told Business Insider. "We are currently experimenting with presidential candidates and just started with some SMBs for a select pilot period."