A new search engine powered by artificial intelligence and natural language processing is offering an alternative to the list of web pages that make up the results of a typical online search.
Called Andy, the search engine combines the use of large language models – think OpenAI’s GPY-3 – and live web data to formulate answers to questions posed by searchers.
“We use AI and natural language processing to understand the intent of a question,” explained co-founder Angela Hoover.
“Andy will look at the top 10 to 20 results for any question,” she explained to TechNewsWorld. “Then, using the larger language model, it would produce a direct answer to the question.”
Andy’s Search Query Screen (Image Credit: Andy)
Does the Internet need another search engine? Hoover thinks so. “Google is broken,” she said. “Google is built 20 years ago for the way the web worked. The cognitive overload of ads and links overloads the user with a lot of distraction and time wasted.”
“People want direct answers to questions. They don’t want a list of links,” she said.
Gen Z Appeal
Andy is designed for a younger demographic.
“It felt like my search results were being found in social media feeds. It appealed to younger users,” said Will Duffield, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute, a Washington, DC think tank.
“The clean reading that Andy is showing seems like a pushback against adding more widgets to Search,” he told TechNewsWorld.
Hoover acknowledged that Andy aims to appeal to the younger set, particularly Generation Z. “Gen Z lives in visual feeds and chat apps. My generation spends all their time in conversational interfaces,” she said.
“The key to taking on Google is a conversational interface,” she insisted. “Everyone who has tried to take down Google has been a weak copy with the same amount of massive information, spam, and clutter in the results.”
Andy search results (Image credit: Andy)
A search engine that provides answers could also appeal to older people, noted Mark N. Venna, president and principal analyst at SmartTech Research in San Jose, Calif.
“In general, users are getting tired of Google’s search algorithms being biased, deterministic and selective,” he told TechNewsWorld.
“Whether that assumption is correct or not,” he continued, “a new search engine that uses common sense language and provides specific answers rather than links could be particularly interesting to older users who have Don’t want to bother reviewing the link. To get an answer to a question or query.”
search option required
However, making people switch search engines is a daunting task. “Google has set the bar really high for web search,” said Danny Goodwin, managing editor of Search Engine Land and SMX, a digital marketing and advertising technology publication.
“The only reason we would need another search engine is if you can provide something better than Google,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Better search results. Better user experience. Better answers. Better whatever.”
Greg Sterling, co-founder of the news, commentary and analysis website Near Media, said there is a lot of information online right now, much of it of low quality.
“Google is trying to respond to growing complaints about the decline in the quality and usability of its search results,” he told TechNewsWorld. “I believe there is an opportunity to deliver a new or better search experience. But this is a big problem and many new search engines copy the look and feel of Google.”
“Google’s partial abandonment in favor of TikTok by some young users,” he said, “is an example of the hunger for something different.”
“It’s hard to get just one answer now,” said Liz Miller, vice president and principal analyst at Constellation Research, a technology research and advisory firm in Cupertino, Calif.
“Which one do you see fighting for first in query results is extremely costly for brands and increasingly unpleasant for users,” she told TechNewsWorld. “The reality for many users is that they only want answers to the question they asked. They don’t want easter egg hunts that provide sponsored and level-headed results.”
finding a niche
Kerstin Recker, chief strategy and development officer at Seeker Search Engines, said there are several reasons why alternative search engines exist. “When a search engine controls the majority of the market, it has control over the information most people receive,” she told TechNewsWorld.
“Top search engines all factor engagement in their rankings,” she continued. “The more clicks a result gets, the higher the rank of the result. Most search engines do not take into account the quality of the content.
“Alternative search engines are needed to balance bias and give people more choice and clarity when it comes to information discovery and privacy,” he said.
Chasing the biggest search player to an alternative search engine can be challenging, but not frustrating.
“If you’re going to compete with a major product like Google, you find a niche that Google doesn’t want to cater to — in this case, answering questions — and you come up with a service that does a better job.” does,” explained Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst at Enderle Group, an advisory services firm in Bend, Ore.
“It’s usually a successful strategy called sub-targeting,” he told TechNewsWorld.
Andy’s target demographic should also help it gain some traction in the market, Enderle said. “It’s targeting a demographic in which the demographic feels it’s not getting from the primary search engine,” he said.
“One thing about going after the younger demographic is that they are very active on social media,” he continued. “So if a few influencers get excited about it, it can drive a lot of people into it.”
show me money
Providing answers, not lists, isn’t the only way Andy differs from some of its competitors. It does not charge any fees for its service and does not record personally identifiable information about its users.
Hoover explained that the service is looking at several ways to generate revenue, including creating a premium tier of service, offering API services, and partnering with publications. “There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to partner with tools like Amazon Alexa and other types of voice-powered search,” she said.
However, Duffield said that becoming profitable through organic link referrals and add-on services can be difficult. “Current searches are bundled with advertising for a reason. That’s the way to make money,” he said.