After Microsoft’s announcement last week (Feb 08), one big question has been about “how can Microsoft make money?” The hypothesis many people have is that as people use the Bing Chat interface/workflow more, they won’t use the traditional search interface. And people assume that in the Bing Chat interface, it won’t be easy to show ads.
I wrote an article about this two days ago, “The potential impact of Chat on Paid search revenue and SEO.”
Now that I can start to use Bing chat on the Edge browser, I have been testing to see if there are ads. And the answer is Yes. There are ads (per what Microsoft said during the announcement that ads will be there from the start 😀.)
Since I was white-listed for Bing Chat, I have been trying to use it and see if I see any ads. I focus on travel and credit card because, from my working experiences, those verticals often have many search advertisers.
And here are what I have found
1) Search text ads are integrated into the answers given by Bing Chat
The current iteration is that Bing Chat highlights various parts of its answers to indicate the information sources. As you mouse over on those highlights, you will be shown a snippet of organic results and also a search ad.
For example, when I try to research “travel to Tokyo as a family”, this is what I found
The first screenshot is what Bing Chat suggests to me when I ask it about potential hotels:
If you click on the highlighted phrase, this is what you see
I repeat the same exercise for “credit card”, and below is what I see
2) Other types of ads are being experimented with?
Besides text ad examples above, at the bottom of some conversations, Bing Chat also shows me Maps and hotel listings. I am not sure if those are ads at the moment, but I won’t be surprised if Bing offers that type of ad to advertisers in the future.
3) In conclusion
So there you have it. Microsoft started to experiment with different ad formats within Bing Chat. They will iterate over time based on user feedback because this is still early.
How do I feel about these ads as an end user? They seem fine to me. The ads are only triggered when I click to understand the reference sources of certain information. So my typical chat experience with Bing Chat remains alright.
What do you think?
P.S: Reuters also ran a story about this Exclusive: Microsoft’s Bing plans AI ads in early pitch to advertisers.