Google is testing a new feature in Image Search lately, as spotted by Alex Chitu. It’s not clear exactly why this is showing up — or what plan Google might have for it — but the Mountain View company seems to be testing the addition of short, looping YouTube videos at the top of Google Image Search for some queries…
It’s currently appearing only for some fashion-related queries, Alex says, but none of us at 9to5Google have been able to reproduce the feature quite yet. The video has “no sound and you can’t stop or hide the video, which continues to play on repeat.” While we can’t confirm this, I’d assume that clicking on the YouTube snippet will also take you to the full YouTube video.
It’s not clear exactly why these results are showing up, but I personally agree with Chitu’s guess that this could be Google testing a new ad format. As long as these looping, silent videos (they’re essentially GIFs) aren’t too obtrusive, the only real downside is that they pull a bit of unnecessary bandwidth — especially if you’re mobile.
And if it’s not a new experimental ad format, it could just be Google thinking that those searching for images in some cases might be able to find what they want on YouTube. If you’re doing an image search for a “winter outfit,” you might just be looking for ideas for what to wear — in which case a silent, quick YouTube video result might actually be useful. We’ll see if this test continues.
Here’s a look at what the feature looks like: