In a recent blog post, Microsoft confirmed that it is considering the inclusion of sponsored responses in Bing Chat, its latest search agent powered by OpenAI’s GPT-4. These responses will be labeled as sponsored content. However, this move has raised concerns about whether we have really moved away from the traditional model of ads on search engines. Microsoft clarified that this feature is still in its experimental stage. The company’s blog post provided context and confirmed that the inclusion of sponsored responses should not come as a surprise.
There have been informal reports of ads in Bing Chat for a few weeks, but today, Glean’s Debarghya Das tweeted evidence of their existence in the chat interface.
Some users have pointed out that the ads have actually been present in Bing Chat since its launch, but were not accessible to all users until recently. While attempts were made to trigger the appearance of an ad, it was unsuccessful as they were not yet enabled on the user’s account. However, this development suggests that ads will soon be visible to all users.
Although search engines and search agents are a vital part of the business model, and require monetization, some users expected something more innovative than sponsored answers, given the talk about revolutionizing search and starting anew.
Here’s what Microsoft is saying
We are also exploring additional capabilities for publishers including our more than 7,500 Microsoft Start partner brands. We recently met with some of our partners to begin exploring ideas and to get feedback on how we can continue to distribute content in a way that is meaningful in traffic and revenue for our partners. As we look to continue to evolve the model together, we shared some early ideas we’re exploring including:
• An expanded hover experience where hovering over a link from a publisher will display more links from that publisher giving the user more ways to engage and driving more traffic to the publisher’s website.
• For our Microsoft Start partners, placing a rich caption of Microsoft Start licensed content beside the chat answer helping to drive more user engagement with the content on Microsoft Start where we share the ad revenue with the partner. We’re also exploring placing ads in the chat experience to share the ad revenue with partners whose content contributed to the chat response.Microsoft