Google starts testing generative AI in search, ads included

Dive Brief:

  • Google is testing generative artificial intelligence (AI) in search, heralding big changes to the platform’s user experience, e-commerce features and advertising, per a blog post. The announcement was also shared at the Google I/O developer conference.  
  • AI is meant to take some of the “heavy lifting” out of search, answering not only the initial user query in detail but also offering follow-up suggestions and links while preserving context from question to question. Google said that ads will appear in dedicated slots in AI-generated responses, similar to how they surface in conventional search today. 
  • On the shopping front, Google’s AI-powered search draws on a Google Shopping Graph with over 35 billion product listings to present recent reviews, ratings, prices and product images that can inform purchasing decisions. Google is pushing to keep pace with competitors that have gotten an early lead with generative AI but whose search products are not as widely adopted. 

Dive Insight:

The race to transform search using generative AI is kicking into high gear. While Google’s implementation of the technology is not surprising — and has basically been a given since February — more formal tests demonstrate that the tech giant is moving quickly to address the competitive threat posed by rivals that were early to jump on the trend. Google’s announcement comes a week after Microsoft shifted AI-powered Bing from limited to open preview, welcoming more consumers into the fold. 

Google’s early experiments with generative AI in search, dubbed the Search Generative Experience (SGE), are part of a new Search Labs program. Those interested in trying out the features and providing feedback can join a waitlist, with access opening in the coming weeks. The initial run will be in the U.S. and in English only. 

SGE is just one of several bits

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