As AI fatigue sets in, the world waits for Apple’s pronouncements on AI

Google I/O 2024, the flagship event for all things new and upcoming for Google, returned last month and with it brought (yet) more AI developments.

Starting in the U.S., Google has now rolled out AI-generated overviews to its search results, designed to offer multi-step reasoning for complex questions and queries.

Unsurprisingly, AI dominated headlines as the search engine giant unveiled advancements in AI models, generative media tools, workspace integrations and most notably, its plan to incorporate generative AI directly into Google Search. As we said before, “when Google talks search, everyone, including the IBA team, listens” and that we have – but like many pioneering technology waves, there are always teething problems.

Just as AI fatigue sets in and we’re wondering whether Generative AI has bottomed out yet in the trough of disillusion, we all perked up when, despite Google claiming that people have already used AI Overviews billions of times through Search Labs, its AI feature suggested users put glue on their pizza or that they eat rocks. The company has had to manually disable various search results, but in true internet-culture, Google has simply become a meme for its crazy AI answers!

Next off is the late arriving Apple who might surprise us all next week with a different take on AI at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2024. Its annual event is well known for unveiling new software capabilities such as M-series Apple Silicon chips, next-generation Macs, and most recently, the advent of Apple Vision Pro. After already pushing ahead with its hardware announcements back in April, next week’s event is anticipated to focus on software – and its promising big developments when it comes to AI and an approach that is maybe not following the pack…  

So, as we wait to see where Apple’s AI Roadmap is going, let’s refresh on our key takeaways from Google’s AI changes – and stay primed for more updates after Apple’s announcements starting June 10th (I know we will)!

When Google talks Search, everyone, including the IBA team, listens.

That’s exactly why we were glued to the interview Bloomberg conducted with Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Even more intriguing was the fact the interview was focused on its AI roadmap for the future. AI and Search are two topics we are very passionate about in the B2B space right now.

Google missed the Gen-AI Large Language Model boat, caught unawares by the initial popularity of OpenAI’s ChatGPT and then problems with its Bard chatbot, now rebranded as Gemini. But we’re not here for the chatbots. Our focus is on some of the other nuggets of information around how Google views AI in other areas, particularly in Search.

You can watch the whole video here – or skip below for our top B2B marketing takeaways!

A rare insight into Google search for B2B marketers

It’s so rare for Google to openly publish changes to its algorithm and search approach, let alone discuss them in person! As we know, SEO and PR are very much intertwined, as high-quality content marketing is a force multiplier for domain authority, key search phrases, and lead-gen.

So, here’s a quick listicle of the key clues on the future of AI and Search for B2B marketing campaigns.

1. Search quality must not be impaired

There is a real threat around how the influx of AI-generated has and will impact search results, and whether it will be penalized vs organically generated content.

Pichai summarized: “Anytime there’s a transition, you get an explosion of new content, and AI is going to do that. So for us, we view this as the challenge, and I actually think there’ll be people who will struggle to do that, right? So doing that well is what will define a high-quality product, and I think it’s gonna be the heart of what makes Search successful.”

Quality is key in this quote. Much like white-hat SEO and its ethical and sustainable techniques to drive website traffic, improve brand reputation, and ensure a better user experience – it seems like quality will be the defining factor in positively ranking in an AI-diluted web future.

This doesn’t involve jamming content with keywords to the point where it makes no sense. Instead, PR professionals will have better luck with carefully crafted copy that ties a B2B organization to keywords with core industry or market theme links.

2. Links are here to stay for source authority

Although there will be more chatbot style AI-generated answers in search results, Pichai stressed that links to websites will still form a key component of search results. Source credibility is incredibly important for information consumption online, and a supporting link can make or break whether we accept information from our searches.

Pichai states: “People often come to Google right away to see whether something they saw somewhere else actually happened. It’s a common pattern we see. We are making progress, but it’s gonna be an ongoing journey, right?”

Links and link building will remain a crucial element in delivering comprehensive and authoritative search outcomes. So, it follows that earned media placements in high domain authority outlets will still be a key differentiator to rank highly in organic Search. Especially as we know this type of content will not be penalized as AI-generated or ad copy!

3. Can we use videos to prompt Search?

Aside from this interview, Google is running its biggest event of the year Google I/O this week – and there have been some other interesting announcements. Google Search announced an update featuring new AI-powered Overview and video search capabilities, set to debut initially in the U.S.

Part of this will involve visual search querying through uploaded videos and images. While we’re used to consuming video media, this could be an interesting twist on searches going from text to other forms of multimedia queries. It is the medium of the moment for B2B marketing and PR campaigns remember!

P.S. On a tangential note, Google is also set to enter the video 3D conferencing market with its Project Starline, aided by HP. It promises to use cameras and a custom designed screen to make it feel as if people are talking in the same room. Will this be the final push to elevate the true “video” call – not just square blobs on audio only? We can hope!

Jamie Kightley is Head of Client Services at IBA International

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