As Google Pushes Deeper Into AI, Publishers Face Fresh Challenges

Google pushes deeper into AI

If artificial intelligence can digest the web and provide a summary on demand, you may never have to read another news section. Google’s generative AI-powered search has been rolling out since May, when industry experts questioned the tech giant’s future in supplying customers with information after OpenAI’s ChatGPT’s growth.

Three paragraphs on Nobel Prize in Literature recipient Jon Fosse are found by searching “Who is Jon Fosse?” Wikipedia, NPR, The New York Times, and other websites have Fosse content links in drop-down buttons and to the right of the summary.

Four major publishers told us on condition of anonymity to avoid complicating negotiations with Google that the still-evolving product, now available in the US, India, and Japan, has raised concerns as they try to figure out their place in a world where AI could dominate how users find and pay for information.

Google says it studies the financial model of generative AI applications and gets feedback from publishers and others on pay. Publishers can only restrict SGE crawling of their summaries or links with the new tool if they disappear from Google search.

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Google’s SGE: A New Tool for Summarizing Search Results

SGE will “definitely decrease publishers’ organic traffic, and they’re going to have to think about a different way to measure the value of that content, if not click-through rate,” said Forrester Research Senior Analyst. However, he believes SGE links will maintain publishers’ reputations.

“The new AI section is a black box for us,” remarked a publisher executive. The algorithm underlying it and how to ensure our participation are unknown.

Google says publishers don’t need to do anything to appear in searches. It has traditionally used a bot to crawl and index publishers’ content for search results. Google crawls the web to index content for search.

Publishers worry about SGE because Google is crawling their content for free to develop summaries that visitors may read instead of clicking on their links. Google still needs to make it obvious how they can restrict SGE.

A publisher said Google’s new search function is “even more threatening to us and our business than a crawler that is crawling our business illegally.” Google did not address that assessment.

According to exclusive data from AI content detector, websites ban AI use when given the option if it doesn’t affect search. The New York Times and Washington Post are among 27.4% of prominent websites restricting ChatGPT’s bot since Aug. 7. This compares to 6% banning Google-Extended since Sept. 28.


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