Google Is Expanding A.I. Feature Availability in Search

Liz Reid, head of Google Search:

People have already used AI Overviews billions of times through our experiment in Search Labs. They like that they can get both a quick overview of a topic and links to learn more. We’ve found that with AI Overviews, people use Search more, and are more satisfied with their results.

So today, AI Overviews will begin rolling out to everyone in the U.S., with more countries coming soon. That means that this week, hundreds of millions of users will have access to AI Overviews, and we expect to bring them to over a billion people by the end of the year.

Given the sliding quality of Google’s results, it seems quite bold for the company to be confident users worldwide will trust its generated answers. I am curious to try it when it is eventually released in Canada.

I know what you must be thinking: if Google is going to generate results without users clicking around much, how will it sell ad space? It is a fair question, reader.

Gerrit De Vynck and Cat Zakrzewski, Washington Post:

Google has largely avoided AI answers for the moneymaking searches that host ads, said Andy Taylor, vice president of research at internet marketing firm Tinuiti.

When it does show an AI answer on “commercial” searches, it shows up below the row of advertisements. That could force websites to buy ads just to maintain their position at the top of search results.

This is just one source speaking to the Post. I could not find any corroborating evidence or a study to support this, even on Tinuiti’s website. But I did notice — halfway through Google’s promo video — a query for “kid friendly places to eat in dallas” was answered with an ad for Hopdoddy Burger Bar before any clever A.I. stuff was shown.

Obviously, the biggest worry for many websites dependent on Google traffic is what will happen to referrals if Google will simply summarize the results of pages instead of linking to them. I have mixed feelings about this. There are many websites which game search results and overwhelm queries with their own summaries. I would like to say “good riddance”, but I also know these pages did not come out of nowhere. They are a product of trying to improve website rankings on Google for all searches, and to increase ad and affiliate revenue from people who have clicked through. Neither one is a laudable goal in its own right. Yet anyone who has paid attention to the media industry for more than a minute can kind of understand these desperate attempts to grab attention and money.

Google built entire industries, from recipe bloggers to search optimization experts. What happens when it blows it all up?

Good thing home pages are back.