Microsoft turbocharged Bing with the injection of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in February and saw daily active users climb past 100 million a month later. Now, the company has confirmed it’s “exploring” how to integrate adverts into the chatbot experience.
“Yes, ads will show in the new Bing, specifically in chat (as they do in the traditional search results),” Caitlin Roulston, a director of communications at Microsoft, told The Verge. “Since the new Bing is in preview, there may be some variability in how it’s currently showing up. We’re still exploring new opportunities for ad experiences and will share more over time.”
The ads are clearly labelled as such and won’t be mixed up with other answers. But it could be concerning if advertising precedes organic answers as it does in traditional search engine results.
While most users can define the difference between adverts on a search page (and scroll down if necessary), some may be caught unaware if the information is presented in a conversation. On the flip side, advertisers may relish the opportunity to engage with customers more personally through the chatbot system.
It’s not clear yet which users will see ads activated, nor what products will initially be targeted, but thanks to Twitter user Debarghya Das, we have a pretty good idea of how it’ll look.
Bing Chat now has Ads!It's going to be fascinating to see how the unit economics of Ads in language models will unfold and affect search advertising.1/3 pic.twitter.com/o5YjRjikOPMarch 29, 2023
What’s uncertain about the above example is what exactly the advert is referring to. Is TrueCar selling the cheap Honda in question or has it paid to have its price-checking service quoted by Bing with ChatGPT?
Other types of Bing ads
This is just one way of experimenting with advs inside the chatbot. According to a blog post from Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi, the company may add a hover feature that reveals more links from an advertiser’s website. Mehdi also mentions placing “a rich caption of Microsoft Start licensed content beside the chat answer helping to drive more user engagement with the content on Microsoft Start where we share the ad revenue with the partner.”
He added: “We’re also exploring placing ads in the chat experience to share the ad revenue with partners whose content contributed to the chat response."
Either way, Microsoft is moving fast to cement this. Interestingly, the news comes a day after reports emerged Microsoft threatened to cut off access to Bing search data to other companies if they intend on using it to build their own chatbots. Microsoft isn’t only building and monetizing its own AI castle, it’s making every effort to fortify it from potential invaders.
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Jeff is UK Editor-in-Chief for Tom’s Guide looking after the day-to-day output of the site’s British contingent. Rising early and heading straight for the coffee machine, Jeff loves nothing more than dialling into the zeitgeist of the day’s tech news.
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