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News publishers sound the alarm over Google's new AI-powered search, warning of devastating impact

News publishers sound the alarm over Google's new AI-powered search, warning of devastating impact


Editor's note: A version of this article first appeared in the Reliable Sources newsletter. Subscribe here for our daily digest of the evolving media landscape.

New York CNN —

The AI ​​Doomsday Clock appears poised to strike midnight for publishers.

Google announced Tuesday that it will bring its powerful artificial intelligence model Gemini to its ubiquitous search engine, leveraging rapidly advancing technology to answer users' queries directly at the top of results pages. Google will do your Google searches for you, the company said. In other words, users will soon no longer need to click on links in search results to find the information they're looking for.

While it may sound convenient on the surface, for many news publishers already suffering from sharp declines in traffic, the revamped search experience could cause further declines in viewership and readers. and profits may dry up. Why spend your time clicking on links when Google is already scouring the internet and using AI to gather relevant information?

Executives said Google would handle the process. But, of course, much of that work is done in the form of articles and expertise written by humans and published on the internet through blogs and media, all built on an ad-supported foundation. .

Google's message was heard loud and clear. Within hours of Mountain View's announcement, the news industry began sounding alarm bells.

As Google advertises to further satisfy users' queries, this will have a devastating effect on our traffic and there will be even less incentive to click through to monetize our content, News / Media Alliance chief executive Daniel Coffey told me candidly.

Coffey, whose organization represents more than 2,000 news publishers and has taken a proactive stance on the use of journalism by AI developers, added: “What little traffic we get today will be further reduced, and with the dominant search engines consolidating their market power, we will once again have to live on their terms. This time, our A product that uses content as fuel and competes directly with our content. This is a perverse twist on innovation.

Google's announcement, which reporters have been anticipating and expressing concern about in both public and private forums in recent months, is yet another blow to an industry that has suffered a series of brutal blows, largely at the hands of big tech companies. Ready to give. The last few years. Additionally, OpenAI is reportedly set to launch its own AI-powered search engine.

Since ChatGPT debuted over a year ago, showing the public the potential power of AI and sparking an arms race with the likes of Google and Meta, publishers have been wondering how the technology will ultimately impact their businesses. I've been very worried about this. But given the rapid development of innovative technology, they had little time to plan their response.

Some newsrooms have carefully aligned themselves with tech giants, signing deals with OpenAI to license deep archives of their content. Others have taken completely different paths, such as the New York Times filing a scorched-earth lawsuit against his ChatGPT creator.

While publishers used to work hand in hand with Big Tech companies (remember those days?), that relationship has deteriorated significantly in recent years. Mark Zuckerbergmost has publicly turned his back on the news industry, deprioritizing news stories on his platform and cutting off other initiatives. His company used to defend. Although Google maintains good relationships with publishers, it has also faced severe criticism. Most recently, it criticized California for temporarily blocking some news organizations from search results in response to a bill that would force publishers to pay up.

On Tuesday, Google claimed that its AI changes would actually benefit news companies, perhaps anticipating the panic its announcement would cause. Google told me that it's showing more links with its AI Overview feature and will be able to send more traffic to web publishers by improving its search product.

Google said in its announcement that links included in AI summaries receive more clicks than if the page were displayed as a traditional web listing for that query. As we expand this experience, we remain focused on sending valuable traffic to publishers and creators.

However, given its track record with Silicon Valley publishers, it is unlikely that this statement will provide much reassurance to publishers. And there is already some skepticism about Google's claims.

Our initial analysis suggests that search traffic to content creators' websites will decrease significantly, directly impacting their ad revenue and, in turn, their livelihoods, thousands of creators and businesses. Mark McCallum, chief innovation officer at Raptive, a company that exclusively serves people, said in a paper. statement. This change could jeopardize the future of the open Internet.




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