Google is not about blue links, says ex-CEO Eric Schmidt

Calling AI 'underhyped,' Eric Schmidt believes Google will be able to monetize AI answers and improve advertising.

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“Google is not about blue links. It’s about organizing the world’s information,” according to former executive chairman and CEO of Google Eric Schmidt, speaking earlier today on CNBC.

Schmidt was asked about the “blue link economy,” and all the brands and businesses that have benefited from Google Search. But Google is changing. In the new world, AI will provide answers, not a list of websites for people to click on and find the answer for themselves.

Put another way. People want answers, not links.

  • “Of course, Google is not about blue links. It’s like saying that Disney is about black-and-white hand-drawn cartoons. Disney’s purpose is to entertain, while Google’s is to make information accessible. Blue links were just the best way to do it before generative AI,” according to former Googler Frederick Vallaeys, CEO at Optmyzr.
  • “Linking to sites is a 30-year-old solution. Maybe we are at the start of a new one. … If you aren’t a primary source of info, valuable insight, or products/services, your days of getting substantial traffic from search engines are numbered,” according to Rob Woods, senior director, SEO at EssilorLuxottica.

Why we care. While Schmidt is no longer in a leadership role at Google, he knows better than most what Google is likely to look like in the next few years. Meanwhile, current Google CEO Sundar Pichai has indicated search as we’ve known will substantively change within the next decade – including most recently when he said it is evolving toward Search Generative Experience.

AI and advertising. Schmidt believes Google will be able to monetize AI answers and AI will improve advertising:

  • “What better tool than the arrival of AI to do that better? Do you think you can monetize that? You betcha. Much of the early work that I did when I was there was using early versions of advertising AI to make the advertising more effective. Unless you think advertising is going to go away, which I don’t think, AI makes it more powerful, not less powerful.”

AI underhyped. Also of note, the arrival of a non-human form of intelligence is almost here. Schmidt thinks AI is actually “underhyped”:

  • “It’s coming, it’s here, it’s about to happen. It happens in stages. … We used to say 20 years. Now within five,” Schmidt said.

The interview. You can watch the full interview here.

About the author

Danny Goodwin
Danny Goodwin has been Managing Editor of Search Engine Land & Search Marketing Expo - SMX since 2022. He joined Search Engine Land in 2022 as Senior Editor. In addition to reporting on the latest search marketing news, he manages Search Engine Land’s SME (Subject Matter Expert) program. He also helps program U.S. SMX events.

Goodwin has been editing and writing about the latest developments and trends in search and digital marketing since 2007. He previously was Executive Editor of Search Engine Journal (from 2017 to 2022), managing editor of Momentology (from 2014-2016) and editor of Search Engine Watch (from 2007 to 2014). He has spoken at many major search conferences and virtual events, and has been sourced for his expertise by a wide range of publications and podcasts.

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