Franchise Lead Generation Search Results Get an AI Facelift

By: Michael Alston for Franchise Insights

May 22, 2024 – “AI Overviews” have arrived for Google search results, after months of testing. Announced at Google’s I/O conference May 14, the experience will become available for most searchers over the next few months. The impact on Google’s $200 billion advertising is unknown, but presumably they would have thoroughly tested the impact on paid search revenues.

The impact of AI is only one of the challenges to franchise lead generation from Google Search in a January 2024 article. The others – search exclusivity with Apple, legal and regulatory issues, and Google’s privacy initiatives – are yet to unfold, though the blocking of cookies by the ubiquitous Chrome browser has now been delayed indefinitely.

On the competitive AI front, Bing (Microsoft) now offers Copilot searches, and a new class of “answer engine” competitors like have emerged. We will share first impressions of these three generative search experiences, and make a guess about what the impact on franchise lead generation will be. Our focus in this article is more on the layout and appearance of links and advertising, not the content of the AI answers.

Google remains the top search engine, and its Chrome is the most popular browser, with over 65% market share. Google’s YouTube offering not only serves as the second most popular search engine, but also the world’s largest streaming service at over 2 billion users, more than ten times that of Netflix, the world’s largest paid service. With over 20 billion users (10X Netflix) YouTube is the world’s largest streaming platform AND the second most used search engine.

Below is a side-by-side comparison of iPhone Chrome browser screenshots from Google, Bing (Copilot), and from left to right, for the search “what are the best franchises to own”


Google, for this search on May 20, 2024, placed three paid search results before offering the “AI Overview” (highlighted with yellow caret). The organic results are many screens below (four screens, below “People Also Ask” answers).  No ads or sources are immediately apparent in the Copilot view, which appears in more of a popup window.

Perplexity shows its sources up top, which is a nod to the content drivers of its AI answers, but no ads are seen – this new feature is reportedly coming in July as “related questions” at the bottom of the AI answers. 

One day later, on May 21, 2024, Google began inserting paid search ads into the AI Overview results for the same search phrase. At the Google Marketing Live conference on that day, Google’s Chief Business Officer Philipp Schindler claimed that their testing showed “higher quality clicks” and “more time on site” from AI Overview searches with longer queries. Schindler reported that “the volume of searches with five or more words grew 1.5X” faster than shorter queries for the same time period as the previous year.  The same search as above for “what are the best franchises to own” yielded the below, with a single paid ad inserted. The paid ad clicks to an explanatory page, and clicking the “Visit” button takes the searcher to a paid landing page.


Google’s first quarter financial results showed advertising revenue up 17% (though slowing) with cost-per-click rising 13%, despite all the chatter about AI competitors. There are rumors of discussions by Apple with other AI and search partners, but we will learn more June 10 at Apple’s annual developer conference. 

If you haven’t seen or compared these experiences, it is worth spending some time exploring, especially if you generate significant leads from Google Search. 

What will be the impact on franchise lead generation? It seems that there will be less space for ads that are likely to be more expensive – and competing for potentially fewer clicks, at least in any one place. That may be an oversimplification, but it seems that the biggest near-term threat is Google’s impact on its own results as it evolves the consumer search experience with the capabilities of AI.

FranchiseVentures is the leading franchise lead-generation platform for potential franchisees to thousands of growing franchise systems in the United States and Canada. Its franchise lead generation brands include, Franchise Solutions, Franchise Gator, Franchise Opportunities, Franchise For Sale, and, and together they provide the largest aggregation of prospective franchise buyers in the U.S.

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Published on Tuesday, May 21st, 2024.

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