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Google mulls paid AI Google Search subscriptions as it expands SGE

Google trials AI-generated overviews in the UK while considering subscription tiers for advanced AI capabilities.

by moneylab

Google is reportedly weighing the idea of shifting some AI-powered search capabilities behind a paywall, according to reports from the Financial Times. While the company denied considering an ad-free search experience, a spokesperson acknowledged that “new premium capabilities and subscription offerings” are on the table.

The potential move comes as Google navigates the delicate balance of integrating generative AI into its flagship search engine. Last year, the company launched its Search Generative Experience (SGE), which provides AI-generated insights alongside traditional search results and advertisements.

Early customer feedback on SGE has been positive, but the shift from the traditional results format could impact how users interact with ads, affecting Google’s primary revenue stream, according to the report.

The resource-intensive nature of AI technology also presents cost challenges if it’s implemented broadly across Google’s massive user base. Offering AI-enhanced search as a premium, subscription-based service emerges as a viable option for the company to cover costs.

Google already offers a “Google One AI Premium” plan that integrates its Gemini chatbot into products like Gmail, Docs, and Meet. The company including SGE functionality under its umbrella may be a possibility, the report speculates.

Festive offer

SGE trials in the UK underway

Google’s exploration of premium AI search options comes as the company begins trialing AI-generated search overviews in the UK. Following successful tests in the US last year, a small portion of logged-in UK users will now see AI-generated summaries atop some search results.

The tech giant emphasises that these AI overviews will complement, rather than replace, traditional search results and advertisements. Hema Budaraju, who leads Google’s generative AI efforts in search, in a BBC report, stressed the company’s commitment to driving traffic to creators and presenting a diverse range of sources.

While acknowledging the potential for inaccuracies and biases in AI systems, Google aims to prioritise information quality and accuracy in its AI-generated content. The company will monitor user feedback closely, iterating and improving the technology as issues arise.

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