With the explosion of Artificial Intelligence (AI) platforms, such as Chat-GPT, Bard, and countless others built on this technology, the search industry is on the cusp of significant disruption and potentially even extinction.
AI technologies are rapidly reshaping how users interact with search engines (data, information), presenting challenges and an uncertain future for what was once considered the most reliable (stable?) ad formats within the industry: SEM.
As AI advances, it is increasingly capable of understanding user preferences and delivering personalized content. This shift may lead to the discovery process's gradual removal of the human element. In the past, search engines relied on users to enter specific keywords or phrases and selections to shape rankings and promote the discovery of accurate and relevant information.
Now, AI platforms present the capability to perform the search, evaluation, and delivery of information without user involvement (or even visiting a website).
While this can be beneficial in some cases, it raises concerns about the loss of human evaluation and choices made in these new results. Users may be exposed only to content that perceives as accurate, limiting opportunities for discovering new ideas and perspectives. The challenge for the search industry is to strike a balance between this evolution and the need to maintain a diverse and unbiased information landscape.
AI-powered search engines can extract and synthesize information from multiple sources, presenting users with a streamlined answer to their query without the need to click through to individual websites. This capability reduces the value of websites as destinations for information, as users can access the information they need directly from the search engine. This shift in behavior is a threat to the search industry and content creators alike. What is the motivation to create without the benefit of the click (visit) and subsequent impressions (and ad dollars)?
For website owners, traditional strategies for attracting traffic and generating revenue, such as search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click advertising, may need to be more effective. As a result, businesses and content creators will need to rethink their approaches to engaging with users and monetizing their online presence.
AI-powered search engines can generate their own content, synthesizing information from multiple sources to produce summaries, comparisons, and even original articles. While this can provide users with a more comprehensive and convenient search experience, it raises questions about the ownership and attribution of the generated content.
Furthermore, AI-generated content has the potential to inadvertently reproduce or amplify biased, misleading, or inaccurate information. As a result, the search industry must develop new strategies and standards for ensuring the quality and reliability of AI-generated content while addressing the ethical and legal implications.
The integration of AI into the search industry is in the very early stages, but it's already revolutionizing how users access and consume information online. While this transformation brings many benefits, it also presents significant challenges for the industry.
To thrive, we must strike a balance between the efficiencies this evolution creates and the need to deliver accurate and attributable information. This ecosystem is built on the discovery of information and incentives for advertisers and content creators to package it in the most relevant ways possible. If those incentives (business growth) are sacrificed, all parties, including the end user, lose.