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Generative AI could be a massive threat to search engines in the next two years

Image of Google search bar

Generative AI will pose a serious threat to search engines in just the next two years according to a forecast from the analyst firm Gartner. It said that search engine volume will fall by one quarter by 2026 due to the adoption of AI chatbots and other virtual agents.

With the shift to artificial intelligence away from traditional search engines, Gartner says that companies will have to adjust their marketing channels strategies. Alan Antin, Vice President Analyst at Gartner, said:

“Organic and paid search are vital channels for tech marketers seeking to reach awareness and demand generation goals. Generative AI (GenAI) solutions are becoming substitute answer engines, replacing user queries that previously may have been executed in traditional search engines. This will force companies to rethink their marketing channels strategy as GenAI becomes more embedded across all aspects of the enterprise.”

The analyst firm also said that search engine algorithms will favour quality content to help offset the growing amount of AI-generated content. In addition, it’s expected that watermarking will become more important as a means to highlight high-value content.

While Google will probably not be liking this prediction, it’s important to note that it and many of the other providers of search engines are the main providers of generative AI services; Google has Gemini and Microsoft has Copilot.

So while traditional search engine usage may decline in favour of AI, it will still be the likes of Google getting the traffic, however, it could mean that there will need to be some sort of replacement for sponsored links which Google relies on for revenue,

Gartner didn’t mention this in its forecast but the generative AI revolution also means smaller players could become significant competitors to Google in search. Most will know of Microsoft’s Copilot which is essentially ChatGPT with web access but there is also Perplexity, a startup that has attracted funding from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and NVIDIA.

Source: Gartner

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