What To Expect In 2024

Initially, the Google Search Generative Experience (SGE) experiment in Labs was expected to “end” in December 2023. But with the latest redesign of the Google Labs website, many have noticed that the end date for SGE has disappeared.

What does this mean for Google SGE and the future of generative AI in search? Here’s what we know about Google SGE and what we can expect with generative AI in search for 2024.

Screenshot from Google, December 2023

Consumers Want AI-Powered Search

According to a survey of 2,205 adults in the United States, the AI-powered product that people are most interested in is search.

Also included in the list of AI products are AI-powered smart assistants, shopping recommendations, and ads. (Feb 2023)

most wanted ai powered features search ads study statistics 2023Screenshot from Statista, December 2023

Over 25% Of Users Trust AI-Powered Search Results, Brand Recommendations, And Ads

The same survey revealed the level of trust that US adults have in AI-powered search regarding unbiased search results, recommended brands, and ad relevancy.

Also worth noting is that almost a third of AI-powered search users believe the results are factual.

trust in ai powered search ads study statistics 2023Screenshot from Statista, December 2023

29% Of Adults Would Switch To AI-Powered Search

Regarding the adoption of AI-powered search, 40% of millennials are willing to make the switch to an experience like Google SGE.

ai-powered search adoption rate study statistics 2023Screenshot from Statista, December 2023

Google’s Biggest Priority: The Evolution Of Search With AI

During the Q2 earnings call in July, Google CEO Sundar Pichai described the evolution of search with generative AI as one of Google’s top priorities.

This quarter saw our next major evolution with the launch of the Search Generative Experience, or SGE, which uses the power of generative AI to make Search even more natural and intuitive. User feedback has been very positive so far.

SGE answers questions and provides new paths for search users to follow.

It can better answer the queries people come to us with today while also unlocking entirely new types of questions that Search can answer.

For example, we found that generative AI can connect the dots for people as they explore a topic or project, helping them weigh multiple factors and personal preferences before making a purchase or booking a trip.

We see this new experience as another jumping-off point for exploring the web, enabling users to go deeper to learn about a topic. I’m proud of the engineering excellence underlying our progress.

Google aims to continue increasing the speed of AI responses in search.

Since the May launch, we’ve boosted serving efficiency, reducing the time it takes to generate AI snapshots by half. We’ll deliver even faster responses over time.

We’re engaging with the broader ecosystem and will continue to prioritize approaches that send valuable traffic and support a healthy, open web.

Unsurprisingly, Google is testing new ad placements.

Ads will continue to play an important role in this new Search experience. Many of these new queries are inherently commercial in nature. We have more than 20 years of experience serving ads relevant to users’ commercial queries, and SGE enhances our ability to do this even better.

We are testing and evolving placements and formats and giving advertisers tools to take advantage of generative AI.

During the most recent earnings call in October, Pichai offered more updates to SGE.

We’ve learned a lot from people trying it, and we’ve added new capabilities, like incorporating videos and images into responses and generating imagery. We’ve also made it easier to understand and debug generated code.

Direct user feedback has been positive, with strong growth in adoption.

In August, we opened up availability to India and Japan, with more countries and languages to come.

Google is prioritizing approaches that continue to drove organic search traffic to websites.

As we add features and expand into new markets, we’re engaging with the broader ecosystem and will continue to prioritize approaches that add value for our users, send valuable traffic to publishers, and support a healthy, open Internet.

With generative AI applied to Search, we can serve a wider range of information needs and answer new types of questions, including those that benefit from multiple perspectives.

We are surfacing more links with SGE, and linking to a wider range of sources on the results page, creating new opportunities for content to be discovered.

As confirmed by the earlier survey, the response to ads in AI-powered search is positive.

Of course, ads will continue to play an important role in this new Search experience. People are finding ads helpful here, as they provide useful options to take action and connect with businesses.

Advertisers can expect native ad formats to fit into SGE responses.

We’ll experiment with new formats native to SGE that use generative AI to create relevant, high-quality ads, customized to every step of the search journey.

Google considers Bard a complimentary product for SGE users to boost productivity and connect users to their Google Docs and Gmail.

The second area we are focused on is boosting creativity and productivity. Bard is particularly helpful here; it’s a direct interface to a conversational LLM, and we think of it as an early experiment and complementary experience to Google Search.

Over 20% Of People Use Generative AI Regularly

McKinsey & Company’s State of AI report from August offered a breakdown of generative AI use at work and outside of work by industry based on a global survey with 1,684 participants.

generative AI tools at work by industry study statistics 2023Screenshot from McKinsey & Company, December 2023

Google To Maintain Lead In Search With Massive Dataset

In October, Baron Insights shared an analysis of generative AI applications, noting that Google would maintain its lead in search with the “largest set of consumer data” of any of its competitors.

However, we believe Alphabet will maintain its leadership role due to its dataset advantage derived from having over 90% of broad search queries, interactions with an estimated four billion consumers globally, and scaled and highly specific infrastructure to provide search-like results.

Alphabet’s dataset advantage also reaches well beyond search into domains such as maps, images, videos, audio, home devices, mobile phones, travel, and retail.

Google Search Generative Experience, a GenAI agent in beta, is already demonstrating how Alphabet can substantially improve search results through GenAI. At the same time, competitors are still trying to catch up to Google’s traditional search capabilities.

google sge desktop product viewersScreenshot from Google, December 2023

Experiments With Gemini Increase SGE Performance

When Google introduced Gemini, a new family of large language models (LLMs), it revealed all of the ways Gemini was being utilized in Google products.

This included experiments with Gemini for SGE that boosted the speed of its responses and the inclusion of Gemini Pro in SGE’s companion, Bard.

Google SGE And Generative AI In Search: What To Expect In 2024Screenshot from Google, December 2023

Over One-Third Of SGE Results Include Local Packs

An analysis of Google SGE by BrightEdge revealed the impact of SGE on local SEO.

google sge local packsScreenshot from BrightEdge, December 2023

It also summarized the top content formats presented in SGE responses.

google sge content formatsScreenshot from BrightEdge, December 2023

For AI-shopping assistance, SGE offers Product Viewers for apparel and general products.

google sge product viewersScreenshot from BrightEdge, December 2023

Gemini Will Help Google AI Compete With GPT-4

A recent Schwab Equity Ratings Report offers insight into how Google AI stacks up to its competition.

Although the first iteration of Gemini offers a notable step up in inferencing capabilities, we believe it is still inferior to OpenAI’s GPT-4, which we view as the highest bar in the industry. Gemini will help power Bard and Search Generative Experience (not widely accessible yet) as well as Google Ads, customer cloud models/APIs, other apps, and the Chrome browser. We note that Gemini runs on internally designed TPUs, but we see future upgrades/iterations also leveraging the most advanced GPUs. Although we believe GOOGL may still be a step behind MSFT/OpenAI, AI advancements are moving incredibly fast, and we think future Gemini upgrades will allow GOOGL to keep up with the competition and be a major AI beneficiary.

google sge local pack best restaurants phoenixScreenshot from Google, December 2023

SGE Included As One Of Google DeepMind’s Top AI Advances

In a recap of groundbreaking AI advances in 2023, Google DeepMind highlighted the role of LLMs in elevating search.

LLMs are being employed not only to organize information more effectively but also to provide a more conversational and interactive model for users interacting with search engines. This transformation elevates the role of search engines beyond simply retrieving information. The advanced capabilities now include synthesizing data, generating creative content, and building upon previous searches. Despite these advancements, the primary purpose of connecting users with the web content they are looking for remains a core function.

DeepMind also included SGE’s companion, Bard, and its latest updates, plus a sneak peek into what’s in store for 2024: Google Bard Advanced.

In six out of eight benchmarks, Gemini Pro outperformed GPT-3.5, including in MMLU, one of the key standards for measuring large AI models, and GSM8K, which measures grade school math reasoning. Gemini Ultra will come to Bard early next year through Bard Advanced, a new cutting-edge AI experience.

Google SGE And Generative AI In Search: What To Expect In 2024Screenshot from Google, December 2023

Concerns Over Copyright, Loss Of Organic Search Traffic Rise

Concerns mount over the ways Google SGE infringes on copyright, as analyzed by the Atlantic (via WSJ), News/Media Alliance, Tom’s Hardware, and others in publishing.

Both offer instances where content from publishers is utilized to generate a response in SGE that requires no further research.

In addition, SGE’s potential effect on the traffic websites rely on from organic search has led to a class action complaint filed against Google, filed in mid-December.

google sge example mobileScreenshot from Google, December 2023

Verdict: Google SGE Is Here To Stay

Ultimately, the growing demand for generative AI tools and AI-powered search, combined with the clear monetization potential via Google Ads, outweighs complaints about copyright and traffic.

Therefore, it is safe to assume that SGE will be a part of Google search results, much like featured snippets and other SERP features that continue to push organic listings further down the page. This makes the number one spot in organic search a crucial asset.

Marketing Strategies For Google SGE And Generative AI Search

How can marketers adapt to Google SGE and generative AI search experiences from Bing and other search engines?

  • Expect a shift towards more long-tail and conversational keywords.
  • Learn from AI search assistants like Perplexity: ask questions and observe how the questions are transformed into search queries.
  • Monitor keywords for changes in intent and consider question-based and conversational phrases in your strategy.
  • Aim for a diversity of content types to improve visibility.
  • Create “Helpful Content” that satisfies E-E-A-T.
  • Use proper markup schema on text, image, and video content to ensure it appears in relevant AI responses.
  • Always include citations/links to original sources.
  • Diversify your traffic to prepare for a potential loss of organic search traffic with zero-click answers.
  • Monitor your analytics and the evolution of SERPs for your website’s top search terms.

Most importantly, experiment with Google SGE and AI in search.

Test AI-powered search engines and assistants with your brand name, your products, and your customer’s top questions. See where it takes you and optimize your presence online accordingly.

Google SGE And Generative AI In Search: What To Expect In 2024Screenshot from Google, December 2023

Featured image: Tada Images/Shutterstock

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