Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai delivers the keynote address at the Google I/O developer conference at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, California on May 10, 2023.
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Google For a long time, users have been able to add the term “Reddit” to their search queries to find useful resources on specific topics.
When thousands of Reddit forums went dark earlier this month, that tactic lost its effectiveness. Many pages in search results were suddenly inaccessible or useless because moderators on some of the most popular forums made their pages private as part of a widespread protest over Reddit’s decision to start charging developers for accessing their pages. data.
It’s a problem that Google executives say is at least partially solved with a new feature called perspectives which was released on Monday. The Insights tab, available now on the mobile web and Google app in the US, promises to showcase discussion boards and videos from social media platforms like TikTok, YouTube, Reddit, and Quora.
At a general meeting earlier this month, Prabhakar Raghavan, the senior vice president in charge of Google search, told employees that the company was working on ways for search to display useful resources in results without requiring users to add “Reddit” to your searches. . Raghavan acknowledged that users had grown frustrated with the experience.
“Many of you may be wondering how we have a search team that is iterating and building all these new things, and yet somehow users are still not entirely happy,” Raghavan said. “We need to make users happy.”
Raghavan was responding to an employee comment about negative user feedback due to too many ads and irrelevant results. “What can we do to improve the user experience on the core product that made Google a household name?” the employee asked, according to audio of the meeting obtained by CNBC.
Google is in the process of trying to revamp search to keep up with its rivals and take advantage of the latest advances in generative artificial intelligence, which involves providing more sophisticated and conversational responses to text-based queries.
At its annual developer conference in May, the company said it was experimenting with an effort called the Generative Search Experience. which is not yet available to everyone, showing deeper results powered by generative AI. Google also released a ChatGPT competitor called Bard earlier this year. Bard remains detached from the search and is still in experimental mode.
Prabhakar Raghavan of Google Inc. speaks during the company’s Cloud Next ’18 event in San Francisco, California on July 24, 2018.
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Another question from employees at the company-wide meeting was whether Google can more easily show “authentic discussions” since the “Reddit blackout” was making it harder to find such content.
CEO Sundar Pichai chimed in to say that users don’t want “blue links” as much as they want “more comprehensive answers.” That’s why they add the name of forum sites like Reddit to their searches, he said.
HJ Kim, vice president of search engineering, told the meeting that users have been asking for more content from sites like Reddit. He said the Insights tab is a feature the company has been working on in response, but it can do a better job.
“Over the last two years, search in general has developed these large cross-functional teams to search for this type of content,” Kim said, referring to Reddit. “We could do a better job. We realize that. And in the last few years, we’ve actually developed quite a bit.”
Raghavan said Google would determine what is “getting the best traction.”
“But the idea is that for these questions, where there are multiple opinions, instead of adding things, you actually go in and get the answer right away and we’re actually seeing some good early engagement on that,” Raghavan said.
He added that while the company spends a lot of time on AI, it’s not the only answer to the problem.
“Generative AI is one aspect, but it will not completely solve this problem; I want to be clear,” he said. “We actually have teams running experiments,” with Perspectives as an example.
“We have to keep up and do a better job of addressing these new and emerging needs,” he said.
Lara Levin, a Google spokeswoman, told CNBC in a statement that search “meets the vast majority of user needs, and we’re always improving search to meet the changing needs of each of our users.”
“Features like the Insights filter are part of how we make sure people continue to find the most useful information on Google from a wide range of sources and formats,” Levin said.
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