Google starts testing ads in AI overviews

Ads are coming to AI Overviews, Google announced today at Google Marketing Live 2024.

What’s new. Google is testing the inclusion of Search and Shopping ads inside the AI Overviews boxes that can appear atop search results for complex queries.

How it works. When an ad is deemed relevant to both the search query and the AI Overviews, it will surface within that overview in a “sponsored” section.

No action is required from advertisers – existing Search, Performance Max and Shopping campaigns can be automatically eligible.

Why we care. This could make advertisers happy as their ads could be enhanced, but this could also result in less click-throughs to a brand’s site. This could be the start of traffic dropping off as Google provides the information consumers want right on the SERP. 

The big picture. This update represents one of Google’s first steps toward monetizing its AI investments across consumer products like Search.

Early user testing found people find the AI Overviews helpful and are visiting a more diverse array of websites through the links provided, Google said.

What they’re saying. “We’ll remain focused on sending valuable traffic to publishers and creators,” Google stated, suggesting a balanced approach between AI content and external web sources.

Between the lines. Slotting ads into AI overviews is new territory for Google, and comes at a time when AI is both expensive and a potential threat to its lucrative core Search ad business model.

Intrusiveness. Any overly disruptive or intrusive ad placements within AI-generated Overviews could undermine their perceived utility and objectiveness.