Google has just announced an early-access program to a revolutionary new search experience powered by generative AI. This much-anticipated update to Google Search is designed to provide users with more information and context to their searches, specifically focusing on improving shopping search results. With this advanced technology, users can “understand a topic faster, uncover new viewpoints and insights, and get things done more easily” than ever before. As the world's leading search engine continues its mission of reinvention in response to Microsoft's chatGPT-enabled Bing, generative AI technology is set to revolutionize online shopping - making it easier and smarter than ever before. If there was any doubt as to the importance of this announcement, it was announced by Google CEO Sundar Pichai himself at Google A/I. The early preview program has been labeled Search Labs.
Leveraging the Google Shopping Graph
Searching for products can be a rigorous process, but Google's generative AI technology aims to address this problem. The AI-powered search results will provide Google shoppers with a rich overview of product information and buying options, delivering all the necessary information to enable informed shopping decisions. The new generative AI search results leverage the Google Shopping Graph, which boasts the world's largest collection of constantly-refreshed product listings, enabling shoppers to access important details such as product descriptions, reviews, ratings, prices, and images all in one place. Google is touting the new search results to help shoppers find products that meet their specific needs and preferences, even for the most intricate purchases. With over 1.8 billion listings refreshed every hour, Shoppers can be confident that Google shopping search results are up-to-date and dependable.
For example, a Google shopper might search for "best electric push mower for 1 acre". Google will combine traditional results with the aforementioned color block to house the generative AI results. After some commuting at Google's data centers, the results are presented to the shopper with several new attributes. These might include a list of factors corded or battery, battery life, or turning radius. There will also be links to related websites and some links to specific mowers. There also appear to be suggested follow-up questions "Why push mowers instead of self-propelled mowers."
What a shopping result looks like in Google's new AI-powered search
Free product listings and local inventory ads
Of course, there will be quick access to paid and organic shopping listings. Much of this appears to be very similar to the current free local listings and local inventory ads. These free and paid listings have been highly effective for Google and for shoppers, so apparently, Google felt little need for a change there.
None of what has been announced is particularly surprising. The new functionality is not unlike what Bing is offering with its ChatGPT search. That said, the early AI experiences offered by both search giants demonstrate that more and more questions will be answered on the search engine page itself instead of sending users so quickly to external websites. Optimizing presence on Google is even more crucial now for local businesses, particularly retailers. In some ways, these "zero-click" searches could level the playing field a bit for smaller retailers. If shoppers get all of the information they need for local purchases on Google itself, then the advantages provided to larger competitors by their more sophisticated are lessened. For retailers, at least, this could be the most significant impact of Google's generative AI search.