Google is reportedly planning to make the Search Generative Experience (SGE), its generative AI-powered search tool, exclusive to paid-tier. According to a report by the Financial Times, Google is considering charging for generative AI features for Search, including the experimental AI-powered search service.

According to the report, Google’s traditional search service will remain free to use, and the generative AI search experience will be added to its premium subscription services, which already offer access to Gemini Advanced and AI-powered tools for services like Gmail and Docs. However, it is likely that the company will run ads in search results, irrespective of the subscription.

In a statement to the Financial Times, Google said, “With our generative AI experiments in Search, we’ve already served billions of queries, and we’re seeing positive Search query growth in all of our major markets. We’re continuing to rapidly improve the product to serve new user needs.” However,  the company added that there are currently no new announcements from their side.

Additionally, the company stated that they are ““not working on or considering” to make the Search ad-free and that it would “continue to build new premium capabilities and services to enhance our subscription offerings across Google”.

Google launched the AI-powered SGE in August last year and it has since remained available to users as an opt-in experiment in Google’s Search Lab. Once enabled, SGE provides relevant information upfront on the search page, instead of showing links of multiple websites that may have information related to search queries and keywords. It generates an AI-powered overview of key information along with relevant links that point to the source of information.

Google Search Generative Experience

The report states that this kind of Search experience that includes an AI-powered overview, costs more to Google as generative AI consumes a lot more computing resources. Additionally, many online publishers who depend on Google for traffic on their websites have shown concern as they expect fewer visitors due to information being presented directly on the search result. Making SGE exclusive to the paid-tier might solve both of these issues for Google.

First Published: Apr 04 2024 | 12:10 PM IST

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