Bing, Microsoft's search engine, is leading the way with its AI chat feature. This feature is designed to provide users with answers to their questions in a conversational manner. However, it is also challenging the traditional model of search advertising, which relies on search engine optimization (SEO) tactics to drive traffic to websites.
The fear among publishers and advertisers is that AI chat could make SEO tactics obsolete and lead to a decline in traffic. This fear is not unfounded. As Andrew Casale, president and CEO of Index Exchange, pointed out, "An AI that can endlessly articulate anything you wish to know about a given subject, over time, will lead people to use the open web less." So, how does Bing's AI chat work, and how does it challenge search advertising? Instead of presenting users with a list of search results, the AI chat provides users with a conversational response to their query. Within the response, links to relevant websites are embedded in citations, which are presented as numbered footnotes.
This presents a new challenge for advertisers. In the past, they could use SEO tactics to drive traffic to their websites by optimizing their content for search engines. However, with AI chat, the emphasis is on providing high-quality content that can be cited within the chat response. This means that advertisers will need to focus on creating content that is not only relevant but also informative and authoritative.
Furthermore, Bing's AI chat also includes sponsored links and images within the chat response. These appear as footnotes and carousels below the chat, respectively. However, it remains to be seen how often chat users will click on these links and images. Search ad specialists are concerned about the click-through rates of these sponsored links and images and how they compare to traditional search ads.
Despite these challenges, Microsoft is already talking with major ad agencies about the potential for AI in advertising products, according to a recent Reuters report. This suggests that AI chat and other AI-powered advertising products could become an increasingly important part of the search advertising landscape.
In conclusion, Bing's AI chat represents a significant challenge to traditional search advertising. It requires advertisers to focus on creating high-quality content that can be cited within the chat response and provides a new avenue for sponsored links and images. As AI technology continues to develop, it is likely that AI-powered advertising products will become increasingly important in the search advertising landscape. Advertisers and publishers need to adapt to this new reality and develop strategies that take advantage of the opportunities presented by AI.