Microsoft has come up with a solution no one asked for – giving businesses an easy way to start advertising on the new AI-powered Bing.
The updated Bing search engine runs on ChatGPT OpenAI, the AI chatbot that has flooded the current miasma of online discourse. With the new chat API, businesses will be able to monetize Bing AI chat and place curated ads in users’ chat windows.
In official blog post (opens in a new tab) From Microsoft, the company explains in detail why these new measures have been put in place to allow advertisers to use their platform: “Microsoft is in a unique position to explore how to integrate advertising into the chat flow in a way that is helpful and natural.”
The new API will give publishers, app developers and online businesses the ability to choose ad formats that appeal to their audience in a way that is “natural to their native experience”.
The post also added that the chat API can be used on non-Microsoft platforms – so we may soon see popup ads in ChatGPT itself or smaller bots like HuggingChat. Microsoft says it’s committed to “enabling everyone to thrive in the new era of search,” but as an end user, that’s not an inspiring message.
How free is free?
Yes, any service that claims to be free is actually free. We all pay for ads and our data, but such a rapid transition to monetization when Bing’s new AI launched in February of this year is still pretty fast. Right now, Microsoft’s new and improved Bing now has 100 million daily active users and supports half a billion chats to date. According to The Land of Search EnginesMicrosoft is slowly putting ads in user chats so as not to disturb you too much.
The company is currently launching hotel advertising and is likely to move into the travel and real estate industries. Kya Sainsbury-Carter, Microsoft’s VP Global Partner and author of the aforementioned blog post, explains that “the integration of ads into the chat and conversation flow when you specifically ask about these things is quite powerful.”
He notes that the company takes into account the scale and novelty of the technology, stating that “we pay special attention to overall ad optimization… we make sure we’re serving the right, relevant ads in the context of the much deeper context they’re able to gain from conversational mode.” .
From this, we can kind of get an idea of what to expect from the new ad integration. As we mentioned the drip of hotel and travel ads, I imagine that if you use Bing to plan your next vacation and start asking about accommodation, the ads – however they appear – will change accordingly.
This can be helpful, but also a little scary. No one likes targeted advertising, even if we accept it as part of modern life, but actively monitoring our conversations – even those we have with chatbots – in order to better sell us stuff is even worse than usual.
Overall, the move to monetization is not unexpected, but still disappointing. This seems to be the final nail that cements these bots as the new normal, as so many of the digital tools we use every day are ad-based. It almost makes Bing, ChatGPT, and Google Bard seem so much more… normal.
After all, the advent of targeted advertising certainly means that they have become the same as any old software or application that we use on a daily basis, be it plain old Google search or our social media platform of choice. Certainly nothing threatening to see here. Normal?