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Google AI Overview – Harakiri?

Generative AI Overview is set to annihilate the web as knew it

Google is reinventing Google, its world-dominating search engine. They're adding AI Overview to everyone's search. Here's an Overview overview...

Simply put, you ask/type in a question, AI Overview's large language model taps into applicable websites and gives you the answer in seconds via a couple of paragraphs and a few links. Not dozens. Not hundreds. Not millions. A few. Removing the need to go to any of them.

To sugar-coat its impact on the entire worldwide web ecosystem, Google describes its top-of-the-page AI Overview search result as a "snapshot" that "provides helpful insights." The answer's just a taster! Surfers will use it as a starting point for further searches!

That's a laughable and I'm willing to bet demonstrably false assertion – given that the average human seeks maximum efficiency. In other words, they're lazy AF. Of course, that's not how Google spins it.

"Sometimes you want a quick answer, but you don’t have time to piece together all the information you need," Google Search supremo Liz Reid avers. "Search will do the work for you with AI Overviews."

Substitute "always" for "sometimes" in Ms. Reid's first sentence and there you have it: Google's answer to Perplexity and Chat GPT. Again, leaving pretty much the rest of the web out of the picture. But not all of it. At least not that Google wants to admit.

“We’ve found that with AI Overviews, people use Search more, and are more satisfied with their results," Ms. Reid reports, credibly. "People are visiting a greater diversity of websites for help with more complex questions," she adds, unconvincingly.

Hey Liz! Define "complex questions" and enumerate the percentage of Google Searches that qualify. Meanwhile, here's the kicker: "We see that the links included in AI Overviews get more clicks than if the page had appeared as a traditional web listing for that query.”

Now that is for sure. My most recent Google AI Overview searches yielded four highlighted links. Sometimes, two. Like this, in response to my query "how many results in an average google search"?

I've asked this before: how can Google survive without its enormous Google Search advertising revenue? Last year, Google helped 2.2m advertisers hit-up a billon Google users, generating $237.86b in annual ad revenue for Google parent Alphabet.

No doubt Google will charge a fortune for the new, coveted "authoritative" AI Overview links, aiming them at target audiences with frightening specificity. But I reckon that will still be small beer compared to their current ad revenue.

Is Google thinking Chat GPT's subscription model will replace lost Google Search ad revenue? Google's already selling Gemini Advanced, a $20 per month subscription plan for their most advanced AI chatbot.

Last month, Alphabet declined to disclose how many subs had ponied-up for the Chat GPT alternative. Their silence speaks volumes. But let's run some numbers...

Say Google convinces twenty percent of Google Search users (200m) to pay $20 a month/$240 per year for an AI app or apps. I make that $48b; a little less than 20 percent of Google's current global ad revenue. Which is sure to drop precipitously as surfers surf less. Won't it?

“I am comfortable and confident that we’ll be able to manage the monetization transition," Alphabet CEO Sundar PichaiIf tut-tutted. "It will play out over time.”

Fine. I'm not the guy to figure out how to make $20, never mind $200b. But what of all the bajillions of websites that generate traffic via Google links, that cash-in after capturing eyeballs?

If they're not already popular and/or paywalled (e.g. Reddit and The New York Times), I would not want to be in their digital shoes.

Which I am. But this site is a cause rather than a business, and thank you for playing. Anyway, it ain't just me saying the quiet part out loud: AI Overview is an existential threat to online publishing.

“Introducing [generative AI] into search and AI Overviews that directly synthesize and present information to the user risks discouraging users from clicking through to the original links," News Media Association CEO Owen Meredith told The Media Leader, "threatening the business model of those who invest in journalism and quality information.”

Low quality information too! Of which there is an infinite amount. Was? Hulk Hogan did to Gawker what Google is doing to... everyone else.

Regardless, the web ecosystem as we know and maybe even loved it is disappearing in a cloud of AI app dust. What replaces it is anyone's guess. Especially but not exclusively Google's.

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