Artificial Intelligence & The Future of Paid Search


In our new content series, #TLGGBites, we provide snackable, high-level explanations, theories, or predictions on big picture stories. Today we look at the effect of burgeoning #AI technologies, like #ChatGPT, on #paidsearch?

An important evolution of AI-enabled search is the ability to develop dedicated answers to users’ queries, as opposed to matching requests to pre-existing webpages. New, chat-enabled search engines encourage users to ask more open-ended questions. Responses can come in both familiar link-centric form where the queries are matched to an existing webpage, or a chat style format, which includes citations and, at times, ads. How might these new features affect the performance of different web content, including ads?

There are myriad ways these new dynamics can impact how users interact with ads, depending on how they’re using the device. But let’s first imagine a pretty standard online shopping venture. If I’m searching for “best new TVs,” the traditional format continues to bring up ads in their current formats, while the AI model may generate a list of makes and models. We can imagine users preferring either format or interacting with both and it’s straightforward to see how advertisers could sponsor either set of results.

However, beyond traditional ads, there’s a type of web content that functions similarly – listicle or aggregator-style “articles” often titled like, “Here are the Best New TVs.” These types of pieces are often generated for SEO purposes, are surface level in detail, and embed referral links that bring revenue to the publisher. They may be generated considerably by AI themselves. This type of content could be in trouble as they’re likely to feel like more generic versions of the type of responses the chat-enabled search engine can create itself, in response to your, potentially more specific, query.

As AI becomes integrated into search, we can imagine various legacy content types becoming more obsolete, and pseudo-articles that aggregate content and link out may dry up as a tactic to drive referrals and revenue.