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Google Unveils AI-Powered Search with Conversational Summaries, Raising Web Traffic and Ad Revenue Concerns

Updated: May 23

Google introduces AI-powered search engine with conversational summaries. Concerns arise about the potential impact on web traffic and advertising revenue. AI overviews expected to be available to 1 billion people worldwide by the end of the year.

This move is expected to enhance the search experience for millions of users, but it also raises concerns about the potential impact on web traffic and advertising revenue.

The new AI-powered search engine will feature conversational summaries generated by Google's advanced AI technology at the top of the search results page. These summaries will appear when the AI determines that they are the quickest and most effective way to answer a user's query, particularly for complex subjects or brainstorming sessions. However, for simpler searches like store recommendations or weather forecasts, users will still see traditional website links and ads.

Google has been testing AI overviews with a select group of users for the past year and is now rolling out this feature to a wider audience in the United States. By the end of the year, it is expected to be available to approximately 1 billion people worldwide.

In addition to the AI-powered search engine, Google also showcased advancements in other AI technologies at its annual developers conference. These include Gemini, a more sophisticated analysis tool, and "Astra," a nascent AI assistant that can understand, explain, and remember information shown through a smartphone's camera lens.

The integration of AI into Google's search engine marks a significant change for the company and has the potential to revolutionise web surfing habits. While it promises to deliver more accurate and helpful search results, there are concerns about the impact on the internet ecosystem, particularly for digital advertising.

Google's search engine generates a substantial portion of its revenue through ads tied to search results. If the AI overviews reduce the number of clicks on website links, it could negatively affect ad revenue. Website publishers, including media outlets and smaller businesses, may also suffer if the AI summaries provide enough information to discourage users from clicking on their links.

According to Marc McCollum, chief innovation officer at Raptive, a company that helps website publishers monetise their content, about 25% of traffic could be affected by the de-emphasis on website links. This could result in billions of dollars in lost ad revenue.

Despite these concerns, Google believes that the AI overviews will actually encourage users to conduct more searches. Liz Reid, who oversees Google's search operations, stated that during testing, users were more inclined to click on website links even after viewing the AI summaries. Google aims to continue innovating on the AI overview feature to ensure the most useful traffic is directed to websites.

The increased use of AI technology in search engines has also raised legal questions regarding copyright infringement. Companies like Google and OpenAI have faced allegations of using copyrighted material to train their AI models. The introduction of AI overviews in Google's search engine could potentially lead to lawsuits if website publishers believe their content is being unfairly used for Google's commercial gain.

Despite the risks, industry experts see this as a significant development in the field of search. Jim Yu, executive chairman of BrightEdge, a company that helps websites improve their search rankings, describes it as the next chapter in search, with Google fine-tuning search quality, traffic flow, and monetisation.

While Google's announcement has generated excitement among developers and tech enthusiasts, it has also attracted attention from protesters. Demonstrators outside the conference venue expressed concerns about Google's involvement in providing AI technology to the Israeli government, alleging its use in the ongoing Gaza conflict. Google has refuted these claims.

  • Google introduces AI-powered search engine with conversational summaries

  • Concerns arise about the potential impact on web traffic and advertising revenue

  • AI overviews expected to be available to 1 billion people worldwide by the end of the year

Source: AP NEWS

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