Bulletins

Google rolls out infinite scrolling on mobile search results

Infinite scroll stands to benefit Google if users scroll through more search results and are therefore exposed to more ads.

A Google office.

Infinite scrolling is likely to surface more ads for mobile users.

Photo: John Nacion/Getty Images

This week Google began rolling out an infinite scroll feature "for most English searches on mobile in the U.S.," according to the company. Prior to the update, mobile users had to click a button to load a new page of results.


Google said in a press release announcing the decision: "While you can often find what you're looking for in the first few results, sometimes you want to keep looking. In fact, most people who want additional information tend to browse up to four pages of search results. With this update, people can now seamlessly do this, browsing through many different results, before needing to click the 'See more' button."

The company didn't provide an estimate for the full rollout of infinite scroll, or for when the feature might be offered outside the U.S.

Google users will likely be familiar with the infinite scroll experience from social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn all implement infinite scroll within their social feeds.

Critics of infinite scroll say it manipulates users into spending more time online. The inventor of the feature, Aza Raskin, claims he feels guilty about having created it. "If you don't give your brain time to catch up with your impulses, you just keep scrolling," Raskin told the BBC.

Infinite scroll stands to benefit Google if users scroll through more search results and are therefore exposed to more ads. One interesting aspect of the design change is that it reorients the positioning of advertising within search results: Rather than coming at the top and bottom of each page, the ads are placed throughout the infinite stream of search results. This could benefit Google by making it more difficult for users to differentiate between paid and organic search results.

Alphabet generated $50.4 billion in advertising revenue for the three months ended June 30, 2021. That constituted nearly 82% of total revenue for the quarter.

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