Google is testing a feature that appears to exclusively serve short video content from TikTok and Instagram in mobile search results.
First spotted by SEO specialist Brian Freiesleben, the feature pulls up a deck called Short Videos in response to some queries from mobile users. Google already serves a deck of aggregated video search results for mobile and desktop users–something that’s gotten it accused of favoring content from its own subsidiary, YouTube–but this feature has a narrower scrape. It only pulls from Instagram and TikTok, TechCrunch confirmed.
Like Freiesleben, TechCrunch was able to trigger the feature by searching for the Green Bay Packers. The Short Videos carousel appeared below Google’s standard top-of-results info box giving a brief description of the team.
Noticed Google pulling in Instagram and TikTok videos into this “short videos” carousel this morning. pic.twitter.com/iDr3C8OEAE
— Brian Freiesleben (@type_SEO) December 27, 2020
TechCrunch also reports that this carousel seems related to another video test Google ran in August. That one added a Short Videos carousel to Google Discover, the personalized, mobile-only feed that serves users content related to their interests. The difference between the August test and this one is placement (personalized feed versus broad search results) and source of content: Google Discover’s Short Videos carousel serves content from platforms including Indian TikTok competitor Trell, YouTube, and Tangi, Google’s 60-second DIY/how-to video service.
Worth noting: despite being mobile-only, Short Videos does not take users who click on the TikTok/Instagram videos to TikTok or Instagram’s apps, even if they’re installed on users’ phones. It directs them to the browser versions of those platforms instead.
Google told TechCrunch this feature is being piloted with some users on mobile devices, but didn’t give any more details. It’s not clear if Google has a partnership with Instagram or TikTok to only serve their content, nor do we know if content from other platforms will be added in the future.