Google May Introduce Paid AI Search: Report

According to a recent Financial Times report, Google is considering charging for access to search results that utilize generative artificial intelligence tools. This potential move marks a departure for Google, which has traditionally funded its search product through advertisements since 2000.

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While Google has previously charged for AI enhancements, such as the “AI Premium” tier in Google One subscriptions, this would be the first time they charge for search engine access itself. The proposed plan suggests that the standard search engine would remain free, with subscribers to a paid AI search tier still encountering ads alongside their AI-powered results.

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The decision to explore paid AI search options comes as the cost of running AI-powered search queries reportedly increases significantly compared to standard keyword searches. Google engineers are working on the necessary backend technology for such a service, though a final decision has not been made.

Despite the potential benefits of AI-enhanced search, including improved search accuracy, there are uncertainties about market demand. Microsoft’s investment in generative AI features for Bing has not significantly impacted Google’s dominance, and Google’s experimental “Search Generative Experience” has seen limited uptake.

Furthermore, Google faces challenges related to AI-generated content, including efforts to combat spammy or low-quality content in search results. Last month, Google announced efforts to address these issues, including shutting down certain features of its AI model after concerns about the accuracy of generated content.

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