Will Google Start Charging Its Users For The Searches?

Google, one of the most used search engines worldwide, has decided to revamp its business model. It has decided to bring its cash cow unit, “Google Searches,” behind the paywall. They plan to launch a “premium version” of its search feature that will include certain AI-powered tools, such as the Gemini AI assistant, in Gmail and Google Docs. 

Google Search has always been a free service, thanks to the revenue generated from advertising campaigns. In fact, these campaigns have been the main source of Google’s income, contributing over 50% of its total revenue, which amounted to a staggering $175 billion. Even with the introduction of a premium search feature, these ads will still be visible on the screens of those who subscribe.  

Some industry observers believe that Google’s decision to introduce a premium search feature is a response to the success of ChatGpt, a generative AI that debuted in November 2022. ChatGpt has quickly gained popularity due to its ability to provide quick and accurate answers, making the traditional search process less necessary. This shift could potentially disrupt the current model of browsing various links and blogs, which often feature lucrative advertisements.

In response to Chatgpt, Google also launched its generative AI, which is capable of generating more detailed answers and providing links to its users for further information and advertisements. But, Google has been slow to integrate its generative AI into its main search engine. 

However, Google will continue its free search engine feature and charge for its search-generative experience only if you choose to subscribe to it. The company further said that they are “not working on or considering” an ad-free search experience but would “continue to build new premium capabilities and services to enhance our subscription offerings across Google.”

“For years, we’ve been reinventing search to help people access information in the way that’s most natural to them,” said Google. “With our generative AI experiments in Search, we’ve already served billions of queries, and we’re seeing positive Search query growth in all of our major markets. We’re continuing to improve the product to serve new user needs rapidly.”

These steps of Google have raised concerns for advertisers and publishers that if Google’s AI is able to answer queries without requiring clicks to external sites, it could reduce the ad revenue driven by website traffic. However, this is news in transition, and we have yet to see what happens next. 

Leave a Reply