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Google introduces Discover: 800 million users, and an increasing source of traffic for publishers

Google commemorated its 20th anniversary with a surprisingly low-key “Future of Search” event in San Francisco.

The search giant shared a first look at the “next chapter of Search”, and how they are working to make information more accessible and useful for people everywhere.

One of the fundamental shifts they emphasized on was the shift from queries to providing a queryless way to get to information.

“We can surface relevant information related to your interests, even when you don’t have a specific query in mind,” said Ben Gomes, VP of Search, News and Assistant.

Last year, Google introduced the “feed” to serve content even when the user is not searching, “making it easier than ever to discover, explore and stay connected to what matters to you—even when you don’t have a query in mind.”

It’s grown dramatically over the past year: more than 800 million people use the feed each month. Google also revealed that the feed is an increasing source of traffic for publishers.

Now the company has launched a major update to this experience, including a new name, a fresh look, and a brand-new set of features.

“Since launching the feed, we’ve made it our goal to help you uncover fresh and interesting content about things that matter to you,” said Karen Corby, Group Product Manager, Search. “Now, we’re giving the feed a name that reflects this mission: Discover. With this new name comes a fresh design that makes exploring your interests easier than ever.”

Discover is unique because it’s one step ahead: it helps you come across the things you haven’t even started looking for.

Google says that 1 in 8 queries in a given month are repeats — a user returning to search on a topic they care about. With that in mind, it’s going to start highlighting these topics for users before they even start their search.

“Discover is unique because it’s one step ahead,” said Karen. “It helps you come across the things you haven’t even started looking for.”

New topic headers explain why users are seeing a particular card in Discover, and whenever a topic catches their eye, they can dive deeper to explore more on that topic. If they want a certain topic to show up more or less, there’s a slider to adjust accordingly.

Discover will also be more personalized. In addition to allowing users more customization options for the content featured in the Discover tab, it will no longer take the age of the content into account, as long as it’s relevant.

“For example,” Google explained in a blog post, “when you’re planning your next trip, Discover might show an article with the best places to eat or sights to see. Suddenly, a travel article published three months ago is timely for you. This can also be useful as you’re taking up a new hobby or going deeper on a long-time interest.

Using the Topic Layer in the Knowledge Graph, Discover can predict your level of expertise on a topic and help you further develop those interests. If you’re learning to play guitar, for example, you might see beginner content about learning chords. If you’re already a skilled musician, you may see a video on more advanced techniques.”

When it comes to news, we believe it’s important that everyone has access to the same information. Discover uses the same technology as Full Coverage in Google News to bring you a variety of perspectives on the latest news.

Google shed some more light on how this process worked, saying this is now possible because of advancements in AI, improving their ability to understand language in ways that weren’t possible when Google first started.

“We’ve now reached the point where neural networks can help us take a major leap forward from understanding words to understanding concepts,” said Ben Gomes. “Neural embeddings, an approach developed in the field of neural networks, allow us to transform words to fuzzier representations of the underlying concepts, and then match the concepts in the query with the concepts in the document. We call this technique neural matching.”

“AI can have much more profound effects. Whether it’s predicting areas that might be affected in a flood, or helping you identify the best job opportunities for you, AI can dramatically improve our ability to make information more accessible and useful.”

Discover will be rolling out over the next few weeks in the Google app, and is also coming to google.com on all mobile browsers.

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