I opened Google today and saw something new: Trending Stories by Pocket.
Pocket is a popular “save-for-later service” that allows users to save stories from the web to read on their devices offline at a later time. I use the service frequently, and indeed clicking the ? icon displays this message:
The best of the web, curated by over 25 milllion people.
You are seeing these recommendations because you have the Pocket Extension installed in Chrome.
Jeff John Roberts at Fortune first reported the feature:
Google and its rival Facebook have transformed into giant media companies in recent years, working with news and video companies as part strategy to encourage consumers to stay on their platforms.
Now, a new feature from read-it-later service Pocket causes Google’s home page to show three trending news stories on its home page—right under its iconic search bar—as well as three “trending topics.” As noted below, it’s unclear if Google is involved in the feature, or if it is solely a Pocket initiative.
The change to Google’s homepage began to appear this week, though it does not appear to have been rolled out to many users. I discovered it when I opened a new tab in my Chrome browser, but colleagues at Fortune have yet to see something similar.
It has since become clear that Pocket is behind the feature; not Google. The feature also appears to be rolling out to more users, based on a quick search for “Google Pocket” on Twitter:
— Nikhil Jois (@nikhiljoisr) October 29, 2016
— Ana Milicevic (@aexm) October 29, 2016
— Simon Kemp (@eskimon) October 29, 2016
It will be interesting to see if Google allows this add-on to remain as it becomes available to more people. I see it as a mutually beneficial relationship. As Roberts notes, huge tech companies like Facebook and Google are increasingly becoming media companies to increase dwell time on their platforms. And what better way to drive more traffic to Pocket’s platform than to take up real estate on the most popular website in the world?
I suspect that data linked to this initiative will emerge in the coming months and demonstrate its success (or lack thereof). Whatever happens, it’s a fascinating convergence of tech companies to make our time on the web a singular experience.