Google is planning to introduce its artificial intelligence (AI)-powered search engine features, dubbed Search Generative Experience (SGE) behind a paywall, as per a report. Google added an AI chatbot to Search to create Snapshots — a brief explanation of the searched query, along with helpful links that might offer more information. While unveiling, the tech giant revealed its plans to allow ads to the Snapshot to bring in revenue. However, based on the report, it seems now Google is taking a different route.

The information comes from a Financial Times report, which cites unnamed sources familiar with the matter, and states that Google might charge a fee to allow access to its AI-powered Search. Since the company just recently expanded the testing of SGE by including users in the US who did not even sign up for the feature, this shift might not be immediate. But when the tech giant eventually releases the service to the public, users might have to pay for it.

The report did not mention if a particular revenue system was already decided for the service but speculated that it could be bundled with the recently introduced Gemini Advanced subscription for the most advanced version of its Gemini AI. On the other hand, it could be offered as a standalone service as well. The confusion is justified given Google has never charged the end-user any fee for using its core Search product.

It is believed that the reason behind this tiered segregation of AI features has to do with keeping the advertisers happy. As per the FT report, Google raked in a revenue of $175 billion (roughly Rs. 14 lakh crore) from Search, and more than half came from sales. If the tech giant incorporates SGE over its traditional search engine, it could significantly reduce advertiser spending since users will be less likely to click on a link to get information.

Another side of the equation is the website publishers who rely on traffic coming from Google Search rankings for revenue. SGE could also negatively affect them. The report highlights the structured premium tier is being planned as a solution to not lose out on the advertiser revenue, keeping publishers happy, but at the same time creating new revenue opportunities through its AI integration.

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