Google boss addresses concerns of AI replacing advertising staff post layoffs

Google officially clarified that it has no plans to replace its advertising sales staff with AI.

Philipp Schindler, Google’s senior vice president and chief business officer, emphasized that recent organizational restructures were geared towards enhancing the efficiency of its services.

Additionally, he highlighted that the ongoing development of new AI solutions is to enable its customers to grow and deliver a return on their investments at scale.

What Google is saying. Speaking at the Alphabet 2023 Q4 earnings call, Schindler said:

  • “I want to be clear, when we restructure, there’s always an opportunity to be more efficient and smarter in how we service and grow our customers.”
  • “We’re not restructuring because AI is taking away roles that’s important here. But we see significant opportunities here with our AI-powered solution to actually deliver incredible ROI at scale, and that’s why we’re doing some of those adjustments.”
  • “So I look at sales force intensity as a stronger focus going forward.”

Why we care. Advertisers have expressed concerns about communication issues with Google staff, fearing it could worsen if AI replaces human channels. Google, however, denied any intention of replacing human communication channels with advertisers using AI.

Mass lay offs. Google made headlines by laying off 12,000 employees last year, a surprising move considering the company’s record-breaking profits. Adding to this, Google recently announced plans to cut hundreds more roles, specifically within its advertising sales division, earlier this month. The mass layoff have proved costly for Google, with the company confirming it had spent $2.1 billion on severance and other expenses just last year alone.

AI takeover rumours. The mass lay offs sparked speculation about the potential replacement of staff with AI – particularly within Google’s Global Customer Solutions team (GCS), responsible for serving every customer from large international companies to small businesses. Contrary to these speculations, Schindler confirmed that GCS is, in fact, Google’s fastest-growing channel, and so Google is actually making adjustments to ensure more resources can be allocated to “dynamically deliver the right treatment for every customer.”

New AI offerings. Google previously discussed with Search Engine Land how it is testing new AI capabilities to provide advertisers with more support. Specifically, it has tested new features in the Ads Help Center to assist customers in self-resolving issues more efficiently. Importantly, these AI-driven features are not meant to replace staff; instead, they are designed to provide additional support.

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Deep dive. Read our full report on Google’s Q4 2023 earnings for more information.

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About the author

Nicola Agius

Nicola Agius is Paid Media Editor of Search Engine Land after joining in 2023. She covers paid media, retail media and more. Prior to this, she was SEO Director at Jungle Creations (2020-2023), overseeing the company’s editorial strategy for multiple websites. She has over 15 years of experience in journalism and has previously worked at OK! Magazine (2010-2014), Mail Online (2014-2015), Mirror (2015-2017), Digital Spy (2017-2018) and The Sun (2018-2020). She also previously teamed up with SEO agency Blue Array to co-author Amazon bestselling book Mastering In-House SEO.

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