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Google I/O 2023: A New Google Search Experience
In this series of articles on Google I/O 2023, we cover how Google is unleashing the power of artificial intelligence. In this article, we talk about how Google is transforming Search to rival Bing
Google has announced major updates to its core Search product at its annual I/O conference. The company claims that Google Search can now take on more complicated commands, understand them faster, and uncover new viewpoints and insights to get things done easily.
In this article, we shall be talking about the upgrades being made to Google Search, their impact, and will it be enough to rival Bing Chat.
Google has introduced a new feature called AI Snapshot for its users. When you enter a query in Google Search, you will now see an AI-powered snapshot of key information to consider, with links to get more information. For example, if you search for "best laptop for gaming", you will see a snapshot of factors such as performance, battery life, display quality, and price, along with links to product reviews and online stores.
In addition to the AI Snapshot, users will also see suggested next steps and the ability to ask follow-up questions. When you tap on these questions, you will be taken to a conversational mode where you can ask more questions related to the topic. For example, if you ask "How much RAM do I need for gaming?", you will get a chatbot-style response that explains the importance of RAM and gives you some recommendations.
AI Support for Shopping
To make shopping faster and easier, Google Search will now show a snapshot of noteworthy factors to consider before buying a product whenever you search for a product. Users will also see product descriptions that include relevant, up-to-date reviews, ratings, prices and product images.
This new generative AI shopping experience is built on Google's Shopping Graph, which has more than 35 billion product listings — making it the world's most comprehensive dataset of constantly-changing products, sellers, brands, reviews and inventory out there. In fact, every hour, more than 1.8 billion listings are refreshed in Google's Shopping Graph to give people fresh, reliable results.
Google has also announced that with the new AI-powered Google Search experience, Search ads will continue to appear in dedicated ad slots. The company says that it will continue to uphold its commitment to ads transparency and making sure ads are distinguishable from organic search results.
How is Google's Approach Different from Bing?
Google's new generative AI features for Search are clearly aimed at competing with Microsoft's Bing, which has recently gained popularity with its GPT-powered chatbot feature.
Conversational vs Responsible
Bing's chatbot feature allows users to interact with GPT-4 directly on the search engine. Users can ask Bing anything they want and get a conversational response that often includes humour, opinions, and references to pop culture. For example, if you ask Bing "Who is your favourite superhero?", it might reply "I like Spider-Man because he is funny and relatable."
The benefit of communicating in a conversational manner, is that you get the users to relate and develop a liking for the chatbot. However, being conversational comes at the cost of often being controversial and ignorant.
Google's approach to generative AI for Search is considerably more mature than Bing. Google does not use an anthropomorphised persona for its AI responses and avoids topics that might be deemed controversial, such as politics and medical or financial advice. Google has taken a more responsible approach when it comes to generative AI for Search. This however, comes at the cost of being labelled as ‘boring’ when compared with other conversational chatbots.
Immersive vs Integrated
When you select the ‘chat’ option on Bing Search, it creates a drop-down page that cuts off the search results and takes you into an immersive chat experience.
A major drawback with this is that users only get to see the references being offered by the chatbot. In order to see the search results, the users have to scroll down which takes them out of the chat interface, thus cutting them out of the chat experience. It is also a major drawback for advertisers and other companies whose revenue depends upon showing up in search results.
Google realised this issue and created a new more ‘integrated experience’ for its generative Search. With the new Google Search, you can interact with the chatbot while still seeing the updated search results based on your query in the same pane as that of the AI snapshot.
While this is a less immersive chat experience for the user, it is more transparent, thus incentivising the advertisers to continue advertising on Google. Keeping advertiser interest alive will be the key challenge for Google with generative Search and an integrated search experience is the right direction to take.
Analysis & Conclusion
Google's recent updates to its core Search product, announced at the I/O conference, demonstrate the company's efforts to enhance user experience and compete with Bing Chat. The introduction of AI Snapshot provides users with key information and links, streamlining the search process. Additionally, the conversational mode allows for follow-up questions and further engagement. Google has also incorporated AI support for shopping, leveraging its vast Shopping Graph dataset to provide comprehensive product information and reviews.
Compared to Bing, Google takes a more responsible approach to generative AI for Search. While Bing's chatbot feature offers conversational interactions, it often sacrifices accuracy and can be controversial. In contrast, Google avoids controversial topics and does not use an anthropomorphised persona, prioritising a more mature and responsible approach.
Google's decision to create an integrated experience, where users can interact with the chatbot while simultaneously viewing updated search results, sets it apart from Bing's immersive chat interface. This integration benefits advertisers and companies dependent on search visibility, ensuring transparency and maintaining their interest.
Going forward, Google will face the challenge of balancing advertiser engagement with user experience in generative Search. By adopting an integrated search experience, Google aims to strike the right balance and position itself as a reliable and transparent platform for both users and advertisers.
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