Get ready for AI chatbots... crammed with paid ads.
Well, that was fast.
Microsoft has confirmed that it's squeezing ads into the answers of its Bing AI chatbot, which it only introduced last month — an expected but surprisingly cash-grabby addition to a product that still needs a lot of finetuning.
In a blog post published Wednesday, the company revealed that it's "exploring placing ads in the chat experience to share the ad revenue with partners whose content contributed to the chat response."
For instance, when Google engineer Debarghya Das asked the chatbot about finding the cheapest car Honda makes, the Bing AI included a link to ad partner TrueCar. Great — AI results polluted with pay-to-play inclusions.
Bing Chat now has Ads!
It's going to be fascinating to see how the unit economics of Ads in language models will unfold and affect search advertising.
— Deedy (@debarghya_das) March 29, 2023
Be prepared to see Microsoft experiment with different ways to squeeze ads into its chatbot's answers.
"Since the new Bing is in preview, there may be some variability in how it’s currently showing up," Caitlin Roulston, a director of communications at Microsoft, told The Verge. "We’re still exploring new opportunities for ad experiences and will share more over time."
The move sheds light on Microsoft's real motivations for its newfangled AI chatbot. Despite the very real risks the tech poses — Microsoft is clearly still struggling to find a way to meaningfully integrate AI into its Bing search engine — the tech giant is racing ahead to monetize a big trend.
And who can blame them? Who knows how long the AI hype train will keep going for? There's always a chance the tech could suffer the same fate as the metaverse and crypto — at which point it could already be too late to turn it into a cash cow.
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