Google’s AI-Infused Search Engine Will Have Ads

Google Ads is stepping into the generative AI arena. The company recently announced products that will incorporate generative AI into its advertising business, including copywriting tools and image generators.

One of the key revelations was about how ads will be integrated into its new generative-AI search engine, referred to as the Search Generative Experience, which is currently accessible via a waitlist. These ads will primarily appear above or below the generative text produced by the search engine, all marked with a “sponsored” tag. Presently, advertisers cannot opt in or out of the new search inventory, and the type of ads users see will be based on the specific search query, as stated by Dan Taylor, Google’s VP of global ads, during a press briefing.

Google’s “search and other” category brought in nearly $40 billion last quarter, and its search engine holds a 91% market share in the US, according to SimilarWeb. Google first announced its search engine’s generative-AI makeover during the company’s I/O conference earlier this month, following the emergence of its first real search competitor in decades: Microsoft and its ChatGPT-charged Bing.

At the moment, search ads within its conversational AI search engine are largely “experiments within an experiment,” Taylor said, referring to a new program called Search Labs, where Google is testing this technology.

Taylor compared AI’s impact on advertising to the shift to mobile advertising. The company is still testing what kinds of searches merit the “generative experience” and whether it would make sense to place an ad there.

As for how it might affect publishers? “We’ve got a long history of working with the ecosystem and publisher partners in particular to make sure that we’re driving traffic to publishers,” Taylor said. “For generative AI to be successful in the long run, it really does need to feed back into the ecosystem.”

In addition, the company also unveiled tools that have generative AI doing some of the creative work for digital campaigns—one generates images and churns out copy. It also introduced a voiceover generator and a tool that uses AI to upscale images and videos, improving resolution.

These capabilities aren’t exactly original ideas, but Google’s position as the world’s largest advertising platform could fundamentally change how advertisers and consumers interact with the company.

“It’s potentially transformative for their business,” Paul Verna, head of Insider Intelligence’s advertising and media practice, said. “But this is kind of risky, because it’s just not known to anyone what the ultimate impact of generative AI is going to be on how people search, how ads are served, how ads are targeted, and who the winners and losers might be.”