The End of Search as We Know It

Get ready for a major shakeup in how you search for information online. Google has launched a new AI-powered search format called “AI Overview” that could drastically change how we find and access information.

Traditional unsponsored listings in Google’s new “AI Overview” search function are displaced for Gemini-generated answers, packaged in a conversational tone but dominate almost the entire first page of a search query. That squeezes non-sponsored links out of user sight.

Google Search becomes an “answers engine” with a conversational response crafted by chatbot Gemini. This is a huge change and Australia is one of only a few countries in the world that doesn’t have it at the moment. An ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) interim report due in September on the Australian search market and contentious negotiations around the Federal Government’s Media Bargaining Code might have something to do with it. 

Goodbye Blue Links, Hello AI Narratives

Forget long lists of websites. AI Overview uses Google’s AI engine, Gemini, to generate conversational summaries directly on the search results page. This means you might see an answer to your question written by AI, pushing traditional websites further down the page.

Less Traffic for Publishers, More Power for Google

This new format could be a nightmare for publishers. Early analysis suggests a 40-45% drop in referral traffic for websites, meaning fewer people visiting them from search results. This translates to a potential loss of revenue for publishers who rely on online advertising.

Is Google a Publisher Now?

With AI Overview creating content, the question arises: is Google now a publisher? Traditionally, platforms like Google haven’t been held responsible for content users post. But if Google’s AI is making recommendations and summaries, it might be liable for accuracy, just like a publisher. This could have legal ramifications, especially if the AI generates false or misleading information.

Australia on Hold

Interestingly, this new format hasn’t launched in Australia yet. This could be due to the upcoming report by the ACCC on search engine competition, or tensions between Google and the Australian government.

The Future of Search

Experts are divided on the long-term impact of AI Overview. Some worry it could lead to a decline in the quality and diversity of information available online. Others see it as a natural progression in search technology. One thing’s for sure: the way we search for information is about to change dramatically.

Here are some lingering questions

  • Accuracy – How reliable is AI-generated information, especially on complex topics?
  • Publisher Revenue – How can publishers adapt to this new landscape and continue generating income?
  • SEO Impact – Will SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategies need a complete overhaul?

What does this mean for you?

Be aware that you might see AI-generated summaries on your search results page soon. It’s important to be critical of this information and double-check facts with reliable sources. Already the new AI Overview rollout is copping heat for its responses, including recommending glue be added to keep the cheese on a pizza base and eating rocks for nutrition! Stay tuned for further developments as this new technology unfolds.

About the author

*Craig is Marketing Director at Cor Comms. He has more than 30 years experience as a brand and marketing professional working in Australia and the UK.