Joseph Arthur
Apr 7, 2024

Google reportedly planning to charge users for its AI-powered search

Incorporating Google’s AI-powered search features into its premium subscription model has emerged as the most likely route for a revenue model change-up, as the search giant attempts to offset some of the billions spent on generative AI innovation.

Google reportedly planning to charge users for its AI-powered search

Google is allegedly planning to charge users for its AI-enhanced search features to offset some of the costs associated with providing the services.

First reported by the Financial Times, the Alphabet-owned tech giant is still assessing its options, with incorporating the AI-powered search features into its premium subscription services having emerged as the most likely income stream.

The change would be a major revision of Google’s revenue model, marking the first time the company puts one of its core offerings behind a paywall.

Google’s premium subscription service already provides access to some AI tools not widely available, specifically its new Gemini AI assistant in Gmail and Docs.

The company confirmed to PMW its plans to add more benefits to its subscription offering in the near future.

A Google spokesperson told PMW: “For years, we’ve been reinventing Search to help people access information in the way that’s most natural to them. 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.

“We’re not working on or considering an ad-free search experience. As we've done many times before, we'll continue to build new premium capabilities and services to enhance our subscription offerings across Google. We don't have anything to announce right now.”

According to experts, the proposed change would force other players across the sector like Amazon, OpenAI and Microsoft to respond, likely offering some form of subscription model to offset AI investment costs too.

The cost associated with continued AI innovation is enormous, largely due to the expenses associated with training generative AI models like Gemini. Across players like Google, Meta, Amazon and Microsoft, experts expect each company to have topped over a billion dollars worth of investment in generative AI in the near future.

Most recently, Microsoft and OpenAI announced plans to invest $100bn into an AI-driven supercomputer data centre project called ‘Stargate’, per Reuters.

Performance Marketing World

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