Google Acquires Apture: How Long until We See AdWords in Search Pop-up Boxes?

Google has just acquired search startup Apture for an undisclosed amount and will soon integrate its search pop-up boxes into Chrome. While some have said Siri threatens Google's search dominance, this acquisition could change search as we know it.  

Here's why: Apture lets you highlight any word or three-word phrase on a web page and opens a pop-up box that shows relevant news articles, content from Wikipedia, Google images and YouTube videos. Frequently highlighted words can be turned into clickable links, which also open a pop-up box with relevant content.

We're wondering how long it will take for Google to start integrating AdWords into those pop-up boxes, which would let them monetize essentially every word on a page -- and eventually nearly every web page out there.

For now, Apture only works on sites that have added the service  -- more than 1B so far according to the company -- and on Safari and Firefox with the Apture extension. Google previously offered an extension for Chrome, but has removed it from the Chrome store, considering that it will soon no longer be necessary.
Well-known sites that use Apture include ReadWriteWeb and Scientific American.

Google remains the search engine of choice with 65% of the search market, while Bing and Yahoo together have 30%, according to ComScore.

How will Bing, also-rans like Yahoo and new entrants compete with Google if Chrome's 200M users stop searching and start highlighting?
Would Google keep all the revenue from AdWords in Apture boxes -- or would it share with the publisher whose content was highlighted/searched?

And how will Google change the content that appears in the pop-up box? Will it favor its own content above others, as we've noticed with its regular search results? Will changes to the regular Google algorithm apply to the results for pop-up boxes? Will a word searched on Google and a highlighted word on a page bring up the exact same results?

LAUNCH contacted Apture co-founder Tristan Harris, but Google intercepted our email and provided us with the following response, which didn't answer any of our questions.

“We were impressed by the Apture team’s approach to enhancing the web browser experience, and we think their expertise will complement the Chrome team’s efforts in this area,” a Google spokesperson says.

Apture, which launched in 2008, raised $4.6M from Beau Vrolyk, Paul Maritz, Steve Taylor and Clearstone Venture Partners.

So just what do people search for when they use Apture on a publisher's site?
"The Apture analytics report tells us that the most commonly searched for phrase on RWW is "Justin Bieber" - so something must be working!! ;)," ReadWriteWeb's Marshall Kirkpatrick tells LAUNCH via email.


Once you install the browser extension, you can highlight one to three words and click "Learn More" to open search results, on any site.  

Hotspots feature automatically turns frequently highlighted words on a page into a click-able link, which then also opens a pop-up box with relevant content.


Tristan Harris, co-founder and CEO at Apture
Twitter: @tristanharris  

Twitter: @apture