Google to experiment with ads that appear in its AI chatbot in Search

AI chatbots have only just been put into consumers’ hands, but tech giants are rushing to monetize them. For instance, shortly after Bing Chat’s arrival, Microsoft began slipping ads into the experience. Today, Google says it will do something similar, detailing its plans for running Search and Shopping ads inside its conversational AI experience in Search, via the recently announced Search Generative Experience (SGE) in the U.S.

At the company’s I/O developer event earlier this month, Google showed how ads could run above and below this new experience. For instance, if you were searching for a new bike on Google using the generative AI feature, you may get information about what factors to consider when buying and then matching products that fit your interests. You could then ask a follow-up question or be guided to other suggested next steps. In this experience, Search ads would continue to appear in dedicated ad slots throughout the page.

SGE experience showing ads above and below the conversational AI. Image Credits: Google

With the changes announced today at Google’s Marketing Live event for advertisers, the company says it will also soon begin to experiment with ads that are “directly integrated” within the AI-powered snapshot and conversational mode. Available in the coming months, these ads will appear alongside relevant queries.

Google offers the example of someone searching for “outdoor activities to do in Maui,” which they then refine further to ask about “activities for kids” and “surfing.” After doing so, the consumer may be shown a fully customized ad for a travel brand that’s promoting surfing lessons for kids in that location. These ads that accompany the AI chatbot’s responses will still be clearly labeled as “Sponsored” results, using bold, black text, Google notes.

Ads inside the conversational AI experience. Image Credits: Google

Despite this labeling, some ads could be mistaken for AI chatbot responses. For instance, in a query for hiking backpacks, where Google’s AI already makes specific product recommendations, the “Sponsored” results may appear in the same list. (See below image).

Ads in the conversational AI as well as below. Image Credits: Google

The company says it will also experiment with new ad formats that will be native to SGE and that use generative AI to create high-quality, customized ads.

“This is a really beautiful moment,” said Vidhya Srinivasan, VP and GM of Search Ads and Ads on Google Experiences, at the event. “Because, at this point, we have a deeper understanding of what the user is really looking for. And then we have the opportunity to delight them in something that is just highly relevant,” she added.

Google’s plans were announced today alongside other marketing initiatives involving AI, including the use of generative AI to adapt Search ads to users’ queries. That means Google will use content from a website’s landing page to create new headlines that better match users’ Search queries.

Plus, Google said it will bring generative AI to Performance Max — Google’s goal-based campaigns that let advertisers leverage all their Google Ads inventory in a single campaign to reach customers across YouTube, Display, Search, Discover, Gmail, and Maps. After advertisers provide Google with their website, Google AI will learn about the brand and populate the campaign with text and other relevant assets, even suggesting images.

Performance Max generating images via AI. Image Credits: Google

This capability will also be available through the new conversational experience in Google Ads, where advertisers feed Google AI a landing page, and it summarizes the page, generating relevant keywords, headlines, descriptions, images, and other assets for the ad campaign.