by sonja thorsvik

The Search Engine Wars: Google’s Power Play

Recess is over children, time for Mamma Bear to take back over. She didn’t leave us, she was just hibernating.

Just two days have passed since the annual Google I/O developer conference, and the internet is abuzz with excitement.

The global tech community has been going wild over ChatGPT (and rightly so, it’s truly impressive) and its integration into Bing Search. Up until now, Google has remained completely quiet and this left many wondering if Google, the leading search engine, was on the verge of obsolescence. But, as it turns out, silence can indeed be golden.

Google wasn’t lagging in the race; they were merely biding their time. As they observed the unfolding AI landscape, they were quietly developing their own AI language model, dubbed PaLM 2. This move is a direct counter to Microsoft’s partnership with OpenAI and the integration of GPT into Bing.

PaLM 2 isn’t a single product but a family of products — with different versions that will be deployed in consumer to enterprise settings. The system is available in four sizes: Gecko, Otter, Bison, and Unicorn, from smallest to largest use cases. So when we use the new search version on our phones, the smallest Gecko will be in use. And then imagine huge companies needing endless data will use the Unicorn version. It’s just a size game.

There’s a version of PaLM trained on health data (Med-PaLM 2), and another version for cybersecurity (Sec-PaLM 2). Basically, these are programs that have specifically been ‘trained’ in their respective fields so that they are more robust and focused on just that industry.

Quick Glance:

Microsoft > Search Engine Bing >  GPT-4 language model

Google > Search Engine Google Search > soon to be powered by PaLM 2 language model

While they had over 100 new crazy coming soon announcements like their $1,800 foldable phone, AI integration into Gmail where it can write responses emails for you, Sheets where you can build out those boring tables now using a prompt, in Slides, it can add in AI-generated artwork at the click of a button, and a pretty cool new immersive map view, and how Bard is also integrating apps like Kayak, OpenTable, and Khan Academy prompting head-on collision plugins with both Bing and ChatGPT – today we will just focus on the Search aspect.

The almighty Search

Google’s new search is called ‘Search Generative Experience’, also known as SGE, which uses the PaLM 2 language model (and they are also already working on their next model called Gemini).

In a meticulously orchestrated move, Google’s recent announcements appear to have been carefully timed and executed. After poring over their blog posts, tuning into the keynote speech, and watching their YouTube series, it’s evident that the tech giant has conducted a branding masterclass – a harmonious symphony if you will. This stands in stark contrast to the somewhat chaotic and disjointed rollout of Bing’s new search capabilities. However, it’s worth noting that pioneers often face the harshest criticism, and Bing was no exception in this case.

Vice President & GM of Search at Google, Elizabeth Reid says “With new breakthroughs in generative AI, we’re again reimagining what a search engine can do. With this powerful new technology, we can unlock entirely new types of questions you never thought Search could answer, and transform the way information is organized, to help you sort through and make sense of what’s out there.”

For those not as glued to their screens watching these developments unfold in real time as some of us, it’s crucial to emphasize a key distinction we’ve previously discussed – this isn’t merely Artificial Intelligence, but rather Generative Intelligence, or SGE. The technology goes beyond simply providing answers to queries like traditional search engines. Instead, it emulates the human mind’s creative processes, generating information and insights in a more sophisticated and nuanced manner.

It will work like this

Example: I’m currently trying to plan a vacation to Greece so I go to Google and search “best beaches in Greece” to see what it says. Up comes some facts about Greece, sponsored websites, travel companies and hotel rooms, and then all the articles with headlines of “top 30 beaches or best white sand beaches” because of course – SEO.

And I think OK – I am now mentally prepared to spend the next 5 hours going down the rabbit hole of search engine land figuring out what I should do there and keep entering in new searches like: “best hotels” or “Mediterranean diet” or “how far is Santorini from Athens” right….

And here of course I will interject that you could alternatively go to ChatGPT and enter in: ‘You are a travel expert. Create a 6-day travel itinerary in Greece. Include quiet beaches and 5-star restaurants for a solo traveler. Make it a table format.’

This will give you what you need – a whole itinerary with said beaches and restaurants in a table format, but it doesn’t (yet) show you pretty pictures, testimonials or websites to explore further. You would then still need to go and search all of these places to make sure you actually want to go there, does the food look any good, and are the restaurants still open even? And Yes- you can do similar things on Bing.

But now!

With Google’s new SGE  think of it like a dashboard where you have literally the entire internet at your fingertips and you DON’T need to keep starting over every time you want to search for something. You could type into the new search bar “What’s more fun to do in Greece solo, island hopping or staying in Santorini to destress and eat olives?” That’s about 5 different things I want to know all at once.

Then it will proceed to scour the interwebs and produce for you an answer combining everything it knows. It’s rationalizing. At the end of the response, it then has an area for you to keep going, aka not start from scratch (and this is where some of the Generative AI takes place), with a button that says “Ask A Follow Up” and other prompts providing questions for you that it thinks would be relevant that you should ask like – ‘how many days do I need to spend in Santorini?” or “what to pack for a trip to Greece” Watch this demo you’ll see what I mean:

It is also going to change the way we shop

“With generative AI in Search, we can help you understand the full picture when you’re shopping, making even the most considered and complex purchase decisions faster and much easier,” says their blog post.

An example is: ‘What is a good foldable bike for a 5-mile commute in the city” and it will then generate for you everything you need to know taking in ‘considerations’ you might not have thought of yet such as traffic, accidents, bike pathways, etc – or you do have those questions but before you had to search for them one at a time – see what I mean?! This sounds oddly like my AI Takeover podcast discussion on the ways in which our machines will do things for you – from (wait for it) the man who helped invent Google Maps… (listen to it here).

They go on to say “When searching for a product, you’ll get a snapshot of noteworthy factors to consider and products that fit the bill. You’ll also get product descriptions that include relevant, up-to-date reviews, ratings, prices, and product images.

That’s because 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 our Shopping Graph to give people fresh, reliable results” – this is probably to compete with Amazon, where 66% of people start their shopping experience first. 

The search war is on! Google is still blind-sindling dominant in search accounting for 85% of searches while Bing is just at 8%. And this was the whole reason it was such an ENORMOUS deal that ChatGPT got integrated into Bing. They wanted a bigger slice of the search pie. 

What will it mean for Advertising & Marketing

Since now the information will be pulled from sites (like mine and yours) into its ‘conversation’ most likely we will see a decline in website traffic. I’m hoping somewhere soon they will announce a type of tracking in their Analytics, something like under ‘Page Views’ perhaps where it could capture if one of my articles was shown in that generated conversation. Here too, I stress that this is why it is IMPERATIVE that you have a website with a blog – because now, the battle is on and you better come prepared to play. It has to pull its information from somewhere after all.

Whilst they have assured that Google Ads will still be shown, they are now in fact going to be BELOW the conversation prompt. Did you hear me? BELOW. Do you remember when they were taken away from the right-hand side? That was so that everything would play nice on mobile.

And also, if people won’t be clicking on your website as much what does this do for AdSense now?

I will be following this closely as it seems this is a MAJOR deal and also too, if ads are seen less it hurts their revenue and relationships – and I know they don’t want that.

Not everyone likes this path

I must mention here too that the ‘Godfather Of AI’ 75-year-old Geoffrey Hinton who has made significant contributions to the development of artificial intelligence for the past 10 years at Google, has left the technology giant to warn the world of the “existential risk” posed by AI systems to humans. “In particular, he warned of the potential for AI technology to be manipulated by malevolent actors — such as authoritarian leaders — to use AI for harm. If a system attained the ability to create its own “sub-goals,” for example’ it might independently decide to start pursuing power for itself. This outcome would be “a nightmare scenario,” he said.

On the positive side of that, and perhaps even to address it head on Google is placing heavy importance to help humans be able to identify AI-generated material specifically with images. We all know how disastrous fake images already are. They are combating this by including Watermarks on the images and embedding metadata into each. I think this is a good idea.

Wrap it up

In conclusion, Google’s unveiling of the PaLM 2 language model and the Search Generative Experience (SGE) marks a turning point in the ongoing search engine war. The tech giant has demonstrated its ability to not only keep pace with competitors but also to innovate and create a truly immersive and dynamic search experience. Google’s new search capabilities have the potential to revolutionize not only the way we access information but also how we shop and interact with the internet in general.

This is a critical moment for advertisers and marketers, as the new search landscape may impact website traffic and the visibility of ads. It’s essential for businesses to adapt and ensure they remain relevant in this evolving digital environment. The integration of generative AI in search engines brings with it a new set of challenges, but also the potential for exciting opportunities.

While we must remain vigilant about the ethical implications of AI and heed the warnings of experts like Geoffrey Hinton, it’s crucial that we continue to explore the ways AI can enhance our lives and the world around us. With Google’s latest advancements, it’s clear that the future of search is here, and it promises to be more intelligent, interactive, and engaging than ever before.

Impatiently awaiting its release,


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I started my own entrepreneurial career in 2012 scaling up from $0 a year to over $100,000 each and every year. I firmly and wholeheartedly believe there are ways for all of us self-employed entrepreneurs to reach six-figures and beyond and I'm unapologetically here to show you how I do it so you can make your next best move. Let's go.

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