In a world where artificial intelligence takes center stage, Google has launched its Search Generative Experience (SGE) that generates summaries using Generative AI in response to search queries, a move that has publishers on edge. This feature, designed to provide users with concise and informative search results, is causing apprehension among publishers who are grappling with their place in an evolving digital landscape where Generative AI could redefine how users access and pay for information.
SGE and its Availability
SGE, which was introduced by Google in May and is now available in the United States, India, and Japan, has sparked concerns among publishers. These concerns revolve around web traffic, the attribution of information in SGE summaries, and the accuracy of these summaries. Publishers are especially eager to be compensated for the content that Google and other Generative AI companies use to train their AI models, a point of contention in the world of artificial intelligence.
Google claims that the AI-generated summaries are curated from multiple web pages, with the links intended to serve as a starting point for users to explore further. This feature is described as an opt-in experiment that aims to improve based on user feedback and input from news publishers.
Google’s Extended Tools
The ability for publishers to opt-out of having their content crawled for Generative AI is seen as a positive step by some. Google introduced the Google-Extended tool, which gives publishers the option to prevent their content from being used to train AI models. However, this option does not cover SGE, which means that publishers must choose between potentially sacrificing traditional Google search visibility or having their content used in SGE summaries.
Publishers rely on Google search to secure advertisers and drive web traffic. SGE’s design has pushed traditional search links further down the page, potentially reducing traffic by up to 40%. There is also a concern that users might not click on additional links if the SGE summary fulfills their informational needs, which could further impact publishers.
Challenges for Publishers
While Google assures that publishers do not need to make significant changes to their current practices to appear in search results, publishers are apprehensive about their ability to adapt to the new SGE summaries, with many finding it challenging to understand the algorithm behind the feature.
The introduction of SGE by Google marks another juncture in the ongoing relationship between publishers and the tech giant. As AI becomes increasingly integral to the way people access information, publishers face a new set of challenges and uncertainties regarding their future role in the digital ecosystem.