Google is testing a new feature that will allow celebrities and other notable figures to answer users’ search queries directly in the form of “selfie” videos posted in the Google Search results. The company says this program is initially being piloted on mobile with a handful of people for now, including Priyanka Chopra, Will Ferrell, Tracee Ellis Ross, Gina Rodriguez, Kenan Thompson, Allison Williams, Nick Jonas, Mark Wahlberg, James Franco, Seth MacFarlane, Jonathan Yeo and Dominique Ansel.
Of course, the celebs aren’t answering users’ queries in real-time. Instead, Google has had them pre-record their videos in response to what it already knows are some of fans’ most-asked questions typed into the Google search box.
The videos provide answers to questions like “Can Will Ferrell really play the drums?” or “How many languages does Priyanka Chopra speak?” or “Can Tracee Ellis Ross sing?,” for example.
When users search for one of these queries, the video answers will appear at the top of the search results, above Google’s standard set of blue links.
After watching the first video, the carousel automatically switches to the next one in the celeb’s series of Q&A’s, or you can can choose to swipe through them yourself.
This isn’t the first time Google has opened up its search results to celebrities.
In March, the company announced that more organizations and celebs could take advantage of the “Posts on Google” feature. Initially an experiment during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Posts on Google lets individuals post Twitter-like status updates right on Google’s search results pages. This year, Google expanded the feature to organizations like museums, sports teams and leagues, and people and firms associated with movie-making, later followed by local businesses.
Using Posts on Google, people could share images, videos, and GIFs, in addition to text.
With this launch, Google was trying to make its search engine itself a more social product, instead of only relying on the Twitter search results it aggregates to pull in these sort of shorter answers.
The new celeb video Q&A feature seems to take that idea a step further, turning previously run-of-the-mill search results into something that feels like it would be more at home on a mobile social app, like Instagram.
While Google has historically updated its search results to return answers and information beyond the world of text-based web pages, these celeb videos have a tinge of social envy to them, on Google’s part. The company has never figured out how to build a successful social platform of its own, having instead brought us creations like the overly engineered Google+, and various social app failures, like group chat app Spaces.
Given it can’t seem to build a real social platform, it’s now trying to make Google Search itself feel more social, it seems.
The feature may also increase users’ time on site using Google, which could impact the company’s bottom line.
The video results are appearing in mobile search results, and in the Android Google app. The iOS Google app is rolling out the videos over the course of the day, Google tells us.
[updated 1:20 pm et with rollout details]