Commentary

Floating The Balloon: AI Moves Search From Mobile 'Near Me' To 'For Me' Mindset

The biggest challenge in search will come from the need to summarize the world's information -- not just organize it -- according to Jason Hartley, head of Search & Shopping as well as the privacy lead at independent agency PMG. Dan Salmon, lead analyst at New Street Research, hosted the call this week.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is moving search from the mobile “near me” mindset to a “for me” mindset, and brands are having to think about discovery in new ways, according to Hartley. The “intent” signal still exists, but reaching them creates a new challenge.

“This ingrained behavior we’ve seen has slowly siphoned off as the Gen Z population has grown in importance,” he said. “The latest data on them is about 73% [74% per eMarketer] of Gen Z prefers to start on TikTok than Google.”

The near-term and long-term challenges to Google from the growth of chatbots include “holes in the dike. GPT broke through and people liked it,” Hartley said, adding that it creates expectations.

ChatGPT created a new behavior. Google originally organized information and added advertisements to monetize the content, but the industry continued to evolve.

“Google as a verb may not mean anything to anyone in 20 years,” Hartley said, suggesting that ChatGPT could become the new verb. He said people are just breaking free of the meaning that to search is to google.

Gartner estimates traditional search-engine volume will decline 25% by 2026, as search marketing loses market share to AI chatbots and other virtual agents.

“An ad-free search environment you can interact with in real-time is extremely powerful and worth the money,” Hartley said. “I think they are floating a balloon up there to see if they can get enough people to do it.”

Hartley, who pays a subscription fee for Gemini Pro to avoid ads, also spoke about ads in Microsoft Copilot.

“In Bing, they essentially said we’re going to opt you into this and you’re going to show ads based on the content,” Hartley said. “[Microsoft] launched and then said let’s see. Google took a more methodical approach but, clearly, they launched things that were not ready when launched, but got immensely better.”

When considering Performance Max models for an ad-delivery system on Google and Microsoft networks, advertisers will have the ability to use the content to make additional ads.

This will come in a conversational style. New challenges will emerge, including brand-safety issues. The industry will need to work it out. The new form of search will have ads.

OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Google’s Gemini, Microsoft Copilot, Amazon Rufus and many others, including smaller startups, are working to integrate ads.

Adzedek, a startup, has built a business around ad insertions for chatbots, and calls itself an AI advertising marketplace.

The platform enables brands to run sponsored ads, using responses from custom chatbots available in the OpenAI store and on apps. It uses OpenAI software.

OpenAI, Google, and Microsoft are experimenting with ads. Adzedek has published a video demonstrating its service, which shows a Nike sponsored ad integrated at the end of a query about a basketball expert.

Adzedek uses a pay-per-click model that allows chatbot creators to keep 75% of ad revenue, according to one report. It has displayed ads more than one million times through its system.

Hartley also is a member of Google’s “Privacy Power Players” and the ANA Ethics Policy Committee.

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