AI Might Just Kill The Modern Web

I thought long and hard about the title for this column because I know it will create some polarizing opinions.  Still, I think it works.

By now, you’ve all seen and played with ChatGPT.  The announcement from OpenAI resulted in the fastest adopted piece of software in history.  It was a watershed moment in the history of technology and will have ramifications for years to come.

Microsoft knew this, which is why it made such a massive investment in OpenAI.  Google knew it, which is why it quickly ramped up press initiatives around Bard and other AI alternatives  Both of these companies knew immediately that ChatGPT and AI LLMs will revolutionize the way consumers access information on the web.  The better the results, and the more conversational the delivery of those results in a pre-packaged response, the better the experience is for the user.

There is an unintended consequence though: consumers will no longer need to click on the search results to gather the information themselves because the AI will be doing it for them.



I predict, with back-of-the-napkin math, that we could see a decline of as much as 50% in click-through traffic from search results because of a ChatGPT interface.

In the current search paradigm, I input a query and the algorithm returns a list of sites for me to review. That model results in a lot of clicks to sites that drive traffic.  In this new model, the AI does that work for me, and all I have to do is read it and determine if I want to dive deeper. Search-directed traffic drops, and even the revenue for Google and Microsoft from search clickthrough decreases, having a massive impact on the bottom line of these companies.. 

The web is not going away, but this paradigm shift is just the beginning of an entirely new way of using it.  Wave 1 of the web was all about index sites.  Wave 2 was all about search.  Wave 3 was about omnichannel with the advent of mobile.  Wave 4 will be about AI reshaping the way we interact with the web, decreasing our reliance on traditional models of search.  Ai will kill the way we use the web today and will usher in a whole new way of engaging with technology.

The most logical next step integration is for the ChatGPT AI models to integrate with voice assistants, creating a true partnership between these two pieces of technology and the user on the other end.  I actually see a world where we engage with the AI via voice, requesting it to send us notes via email, so we can review and digest at our leisure.  AI may actually become a boon for email.  Email is the tool that everyone predicts will go away, and it never does.  It’s too useful and too easy to engage across the landscape of our devices.

AI is a massive step forward for how we use the web, but the next two years will see even more massive change as it weaves its way into how we use the web the most: search.

2 comments about "AI Might Just Kill The Modern Web".
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  1. Robert Coats from Kinsey Street Online Marketing, May 17, 2023 at 5:32 p.m.

    As an agency owner, managing Google Ads accounts for both businesses and nonprofits alike, I have given a lot of thought to the impact of AI on search and the impact it will have not only on my clients' business but certain to my own. And, after careful consideration, I am pretty excited for what this means to advertisers on Google and also what it means for my business as an agency that manages Google Ads accounts.

    AI's potential to streamline search and deliver information more directly to users will fundamentally transform the way we interact with the internet. While this change may challenge traditional content sites and blogs, it opens up incredible opportunities for businesses and nonprofits.

    For businesses, AI-driven search means potential customers can find their services more directly. This increased visibility can lead to greater traffic, potentially resulting in higher conversion rates. For nonprofits, the new search methodology could increase their exposure to potential donors, volunteers, and those who need their services.

    In essence, the AI revolution in online search promises a more efficient and targeted approach to reaching audiences. This is an exciting development for advertisers on Google, and it also presents a significant opportunity for my business as we navigate this evolving digital landscape. As an agency managing Google Ads accounts, I am eagerly anticipating the advantages that these AI-driven changes will bring to my clients and my business.

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, May 20, 2023 at 10:31 p.m.

    Robert, I think that most pundits can see that AI will assist in postingcontent - i.e. more efficient digital ad placement.

    But that is just one side of the coin.   Most concerns I have seen or heard are not to do with the posting but the potential for the content to be false, harmful, corrupted and maybe not even existent.

    Yes, your business can be totally kosher and doing the right thing ... but the competition's brands/products you are marketing may be utilising false AI advertising to the detriment (or worse) for your client's brands/products.

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