At the Google I/O 2023 developers conference earlier this month, Google made some big announcements, ranging from new mobile hardware to productivity tools, but most noticeably, AI enhancements to search.
After being caught napping in 2022 when ChatGPT hit the market, Google wasn’t shy in its messaging in their promo video, leading with: ‘For over a decade AI has been behind the evolution in search’. On a recent earnings call, Google mentioned ‘AI’ over 50 times.
@amigoscode The year of AI #ai #artificialintelligence #coding #google #sundarpichai #foryoupage ♬ original sound – AmigosCode
This a telling statement. It’s likely AI Search will shape the narrative that Google is the big dog when it comes to AI. But at what cost?
The Innovator’s Dilemma
Harvard Professor, Clayton Christensen, explains in his book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, how successful companies can fail in the face of disruptive innovation.
Having absolutely dominated the search category for over 20 years, and with 80% of the company’s revenue coming from search ads, does leaning into conversational chat-bot style search run the risk of undermining a US$180 billion business model that is Google Search?
The Search Generative Experience Experiment
Google conducts hundreds of thousands of experiments each year in search to make the user experience better and ad model optimised. Their latest experiment is Search Generative Experience (SGE) which is available to some users in the US. SGE appears to return a richer and more immersive results page, combining conversational responses and links to further information.
Monetising these results will ultimately reveal if the experiment is a winner, and Shopping Ads appear to play a critical role:
Google has stated with SGE, Search ads will continue to appear in dedicated ad slots throughout the page and advertisers will still have the opportunity to reach potential customers along their search journeys.
So what does this mean for the future of search?
Like always, both consumers and marketing strategists will need to adapt. Will people feel comfortable with one great AI-generated answer, or will they prefer the old fashion 10 blue links + ads? Will every type of search need a chat-bot style result? User behaviour in Google searches will dictate how and where ads are displayed.
Businesses that rely solely on search as a means of reaching their customers may need to rethink their marketing strategies as we start to see even fewer clicks through to websites from search.
Building your brand is still critical
The old saying that the role of great marketing is to generate memories and not clicks has never been more important.
We can rely on performance marketing alone for growth. Brands need to take a considered approach to digital activities and invest time and resources in creating meaningful experiences that resonate with their intended audience, create lasting value and generate memories – be salient.
Impact for Juicebox
SEM and SEO have been around for a considerable amount of time now, and digital strategists have evolved with them along the way. Every algorithm update, new ad quality score factor or new advertising feature release means we need to up-skill and adapt. The same will apply to SGE. We’ll monitor, we’ll research, we’ll adopt. Just like we did with GA4 (RIP Universal Analytics).
There is speculation from some quarters that the AI explosion is the biggest disruptive force since the internet. There’s no denying it. Search as we know it will change forever.
Having the right mix of short-term (performance-based) and long-term (brand-building) marketing strategies will help offset any negative impact from a loss of visibility in search.
Ensuring every touchpoint in your digital ecosystem creates a meaningful experience for your customers and will differentiate your brand from the rest.
Brace for AI’s Impact on Search with Juicebox
Witness AI’s disruptive influence on search with Juicebox, your strategic digital agency. As AI reshapes the digital landscape, your brand’s search presence faces transformation. A balanced approach combining short-term performance and long-term brand strategies will mitigate search visibility challenges. Elevate your brand through meaningful touchpoints, setting it apart from the competition. Juicebox, as an expert in conversion rate optimisation and digital marketing, will guide you to navigate this new paradigm and emerge stronger. Connect with us to embrace change and elevate your brand’s future.