Google’s latest earnings call gave us a little bit more of a glimpse of where Google is headed. Below I’ve included several quotes from the call. Here is a summary of the most important parts:
- Google is focused on SGE. There has been strong user feedback and adoption. Google is in the early stages of deployment.
- Bard and Assistant. Assistant with Bard was just introduced – a generative AI personal assistant. Sundar Pichai said Google has an opportunity to to evolve Search with Assistant over the next decade.
- Ads. Google is experimenting with new ad formats native to SGE.
- YouTube. A lot of growth is coming from YouTube.
- Gemini. Google will be releasing a series of models throughout 2024. Gemini will be available in various sizes and capabilities and used across all of Google’s products.
Google is focused on SGE
Here are a few quotes from Sundar Pichai on SGE. I’ve bolded the bits I found most interesting.
“Direct user feedback has been positive with strong growth in adoption.”
“We will continue to prioritize approaches that add value for our users, send valuable traffic to publishers, and support a healthy open internet.”
When asked whether Google expects return on their investment in SGE and Bard, Sundar Pichai said,
“Obviously we see AI as a foundational platform shift and are excited about the opportunities across our business. It starts with Search.
We’ve been pretty pleased with how the user feedback has been on SGE. We have been rolling it out to more users. Through it all we have been making sure the product works well and we are generating value for our ecosystem and that ads transition well.
When asked how far along SGE is: “We are still in very early days in terms of how much we have rolled it out, but we have definitely gotten it out to enough people both geographically and across user segments to know that the product is working well.
It improves the experience. But there are areas to improve which we are fine-tuning. Our True North here is getting the right user experience we want to and I’m pretty comfortable, seeing the trajectory.
We’ve always worked through these transitions, be it from desktop to mobile, or from now, mobile to an AI enhanced experience, it’s nothing new, and I feel very comfortable that as we go through it the strength of our teams both on the organic side as well as ads side to drive the right experience for users, including ads will pay dividends. And I think we’ll continue to make progress there.”
Marie’s thoughts: Google said in their last earnings call that they saw SGE as the future of search. They are continuing to change it and test it. While they call it an experiment, it seems to me that SGE will be an integral part of search eventually.
I expect that once SGE becomes powered by Gemini it will produce images and video. It should be able to provide an informational answer to most queries. This will most definitely impact many publishers.
It will be interesting to see how SGE represents real life businesses that currently get found via either Google Maps or eCommerce searches. The results we have seen so far show that businesses are not recommended in the same order as Google’s current organic results.
About Bard & Assistant
Bard is “a direct interface to a conversational LLM and we think of it as an early experiment and complimentary experience to Google Search.”
Assistant with Bard is coming soon: “A personal assistant powered by generative AI. It combines Bard’s generative and reasoning capabilities with assistant’s personalized help. You can interact with it through text, voice or images and in the coming months you’ll be able to opt in on Android and iOS mobile devices.”
“Bard can now integrate with Google apps and services, showing relevant information from workspace, maps, Youtube and Google Flights and Hotels.”
Sundar Pichai spoke about Search evolving with Assistant: “…the opportunity to evolve Search with Assistant over the next decade ahead.”
Also, regarding Bard: “…with AI, there will be many ways people get information but it also offers us an opportunity in Search and in Assistant to take it to the next level and answer use cases which we couldn’t have done before and expand a diverse set of needs where we are a resource. “
Marie’s thoughts: Although a lot of people are not fans of Bard, it continues to improve. Have you tried it recently? It is getting faster and more accurate. I strongly suspect that Bard will end up being the new face of search.
Once Bard is a part of Google Assistant, you can use it as an overlay on any Android phone or iPhone. It will allow you to have a conversation with an AI assistant about anything you see on your screen.
I recently purchased new Pixel earbuds. Once connected to Bard, if I want to know anything, I can tap my ear, ask a question and the answer is provided. In any language. Without me needing to look at a screen.
To some it’s a scary idea to think of Bard, which is so often prone to hallucinations, as our personal assistant, guide and brainstorming partner. The more I use Bard, the more helpful I am finding it to be. I would encourage you to try using it every day. If Google trusts Bard enough to connect it with Assistant, it has likely improved immensely!
I would especially encourage you to play around with the check responses with Google button. I am finding myself “searching” on Bard and then occasionally visiting the websites that are listed as having supporting information.
Ads are important, and changing
Google said they are going to experiment with “new formats native to SGE that use Generative AI to create relevant, high quality ads, customized to every step of the search journey.”
Regarding SGE: “ “It’s extremely important to us that in this new experience, advertisers still have the opportunity to reach potential customers along their search journeys.”
Marie’s thoughts: This is an exciting time to be working in Ads. I can picture Google eventually giving businesses the capability to do all sorts of things to use AI to create interactive ads.
I have heard some SEOs say that Google will not go live with SGE because it will cut their ad revenue. I expect we will seen more and more experiments with how ads are used in SGE.
YouTube is important to Google
A lot of the call was spent focusing on growth from YouTube. Dream Screen is a new feature to allow AI generated videos and backgrounds. Subscriptions like the NFL subscription are a big revenue source.
Marie’s thoughts: I’m paying attention to YT shorts as I think it makes sense that when the Perspectives Update to the Helpful Content system goes live we will see YT shorts in SGE. This would provide searchers with more than an informational answer, but rather a person sharing their experiences.
“On Gemini, obviously it’s an effort from our combined Google DeepMind team. I’m very excited about the progress there. As we’re working through getting the model ready, to me, more importantly we are just really laying the foundation for what I think of as the next generation series of models we’ll be launching throughout 2024.
The pace of innovation is extraordinarily impressive to see. We are creating it from the ground up to be multimodal, highly efficient with tool and API integrations and more importantly, laying the platform to enable future innovations as well.
We are developing Gemini in a way that is going to be available at various sizes and capabilities and we’ll be using it immediately across all our products internally as well as bringing it out to both developers and cloud customers through Vertex.
So, I view it as a journey and each generation is going to be better than the other and we are definitely investing and the early results are very promising.”
Marie’s thoughts: Google has said very little about Gemini. Personally, I think it will drastically change the internet. Because it knows more than just the text on the internet, it will have more accurate information and be less likely to hallucinate. Gemini is another reason I’m paying more attention to YouTube. I expect it will allow Google to surface videos that are directly relevant to user queries. Gemini should improve Bard’s accuracy significantly.
Final thoughts from Marie
While there wasn’t a whole lot new to be learned here, we know that Google continues to focus on SGE. I am very excited about Assistant with Bard. I can see this radically changing how people get their information and consume it. I am even more excited to eventually see a Gemini powered Bard.
I think it might be new news that Gemini is coming out in 2024. I have heard other sources claim we would see it in December of 2023. Google said that Gemini would be used across all of its products and be made available to businesses in different sizes and capabilities. When this happens, the use of AI may grow significantly.
Also, about the earnings…
I haven’t covered any of the financial details of this earnings call. After this call, Google shares fell 9.5%.
The drop is attributed to slower Cloud growth. Cloud being the platform
To the world, Google appears to be moving so slowly, especially when compared to OpenAI who has released several mind blowing products – ChatGPT, GPT-Vision, GPT-Voice, and more that have the potential to radically change lives. In comparison, Google keeps telling us they are moving forward “boldly and responsibly,” which might be interpreted as, “slowly.”
I think Google has been moving for two decades now towards building an AI assistant that much of the world will use as their source of information and guidance. The Panda filter in 2011 created a description of the helpful, reliable web Google was working towards. Today’s guidance on creating helpful content is quite similar. As AI advances, and as the many machine learning systems in play in Google’s ranking machine continue to learn, they are getting closer to having a web that is helpful and reliable enough to make a trustworthy AI assistant possible.
I believe that Gemini will speed up this journey. If Gemini truly does eclipse ChatGPT in capabilities, Bard + Gemini + a helpful, reliable web will cause significant change in how much of the world gets their information. Gemini + API integrations for businesses will open up a world of new ways for businesses to make money. ChatGPT plugins are a cool thing for businesses to play with but not something quite mainstream. I expect that when people start innovating and discovering what we can do with Google’s AI models and integrations, we will not be talking about disappointing Google Cloud numbers.