Big Publishers Concerned With AI Powered Search From Google & Bing

Feb 13, 2023 - 7:51 am 56 by
Filed Under Bing Search

Google Bing Publishers Chat Ai

It is somewhat satisfying to see non-SEOs dig deeper into how search is changing at Google and Bing and to hear the concerns they have about these changes. We covered your concerns as SEOs and publishers a week ago but now the big publishers are voicing their concerns around AI-search and what it means for publishers.

To catch you all up, Google announced Bard which showed screenshots of a ChatGPT like interface in search which had zero links or citations to publishers. The Microsoft Bing AI announcement was much more thought-out and had links to publishers, ads and so on.

But what the big publishers are concerned about is that there will be less of a need for searchers to click on those links than they had in the past. It is a similar concern we had with featured snippets and then the head of search at Google, Amit Signhal, said publishers are the corkscrew and Google is the swiss army knife after Danny Sullivan called Google the biggest scraper and shared the concern publishers have about searchers not needing the 10 blue links anymore. But AI chat takes this to a whole new level, a whole new level.

Wired wrote, "web users spend more time with bots and less time clicking links, publishers could be cut off from sales of subscriptions, ads, and referrals." "When asked at Microsoft’s media event this week about the new Bing search potentially plagiarizing the work of human writers, the company’s consumer chief marketing officer Yusuf Mehdi said the company “cares a bunch about being able to drive traffic back to content creators.” The links the Bing chatbot includes at the end of each response, he said, are meant to “make it easy for people to go in and click through to those sites.” Roulston of Microsoft declined to share information about how many early testers were clicking through those citation links to visit the information’s source," Wired added.

The Verge wrote up the concern after the video interview Nilay Patel had with Microsoft's CEO, Satya Nadella. You should read or watch the interview, I'll embed it below, but Glenn Gabe highlighted some of this in his tweets:

And Marques Brownlee discussed it on his podcast as well, they even go through the concept of if publishers stop getting traffic from search and they cannot earn money on the content they produce - they will stop producing the content and the AI models will have nothing new to work with to train their models to give answers.

This just reminds me of all the featured snippet debate from almost a decade ago.

Looking back, SEOs would most rather prefer to have a featured snippet than not. Google even said they result in more traffic and not less but refuse to release data to publishers proving that. It is the whole zero click debate that Google disputes without any evidence.

None of this is new for most of the readers here, but to hear big publishers, big content creators be really concerned about this, is interesting and exciting.

Don't get me wrong, I know both Microsoft and Google are thinking up ways to try to keep the overall ecosystem going with these new AI chat features baked into search. And I totally suspect there will be a lot of trial and error, a lot of change over the years. But I also believe that Google and Bing understand that they need content to be produced and won't go too far to cause publishers to stop publishing.

But time will tell...

I also tweeted this morning about the irony of SEOs diving into generating content using AI (which Google is okay with) and them also complaining about the search engines using AI. Click through to see the responses to that tweet:

Forum discussion at Twitter.


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