Bing Chat shows how ads can work with chatbots – IT Pro – News
With Microsoft’s Bing Chat, a chatbot is marketed for the first time. As a result, it is now possible to see for the first time how such a chatbot handles advertisements. Microsoft tells Tweakers that it hasn’t adjusted chatbot ads yet.
Before Bing, there was ChatGPT, but its creator OpenAI never used ads because the purpose of ChatGPT is to collect knowledge and data, not to monetize users. Additionally, OpenAI monetizes paid API access to its services.
Microsoft’s Bing Chat is based on the work of OpenAI and stems from major investments and collaboration between the two companies. Bing Chat is also just part of Microsoft’s AI strategy. He already had Copilot in GitHub, but it wasn’t GPT-based. The new co-pilots in many business services are. In addition, Copilot writes email suggestions to customers, for example. Microsoft is expected to announce even more OpenAI chatbot integrations into its services on Thursday.
The Bing search engine’s Chat function is a service for consumers and is linked to the search engine itself. It’s not just in the browser, because Skype has it too and it’s in the Windows taskbar.
What Microsoft says about ads in Bing Chat
While Microsoft makes money from commercial services through subscription fees for those services, Bing has relied on ads as a search engine for many years. Can this model be copied to the chatbot and if so, what does it look like?
CEO of Microsoft Advertising Rob Wilk has already said something about this at the announcement. “Microsoft’s ability to dig deeper and better understand complex queries, and the insights we’ll gain about user intent through conversations, will provide advertisers with smarter, more actionable opportunities to engage with customers.”
Better data to tailor ads, which benefits advertisers, says Wilk. “With personalized experiences, we hope to be able to deliver even more relevant messages to consumers, with the goal of greater ROI for advertisers.”
There is also a cumulative effect, as Microsoft expects usage to continue to grow. “And as usage grows, we anticipate increased volume leading to more opportunities for advertisers to reach desired customers. The potential of this new technology is still being explored, but we know that this fundamental change in the search engine experience will bring us a new will provide opportunities to reinvent traditional advertising experiences – together.”
What ads currently look like in Bing Chat
After that initial announcement, Microsoft hasn’t backtracked on ads in its chatbot — until now. So, are they already there? Yes, that’s how a tweaker tipped off publishers, with an example that turned out to be reproducible. Other prompts where you expected ads in a search engine also showed ads in the Bing Chat response.
It works like this: you give a prompt and ask for something with it. Bing Chat provides answers, and some of those answers contain links to resources. You can see them as footnotes, but on the desktop it’s also possible to click on the text itself. Hovering over it with the mouse pointer already gives a preview of the link.
During our tests, we observed two different phenomena. Instead of a single source link, Bing Chat provides two source links: one to where it got the information from and one to an ad. This can be for the same site or for a completely different site from another company. It also happens that there are two links to the same site, one of which is an advertisement. The ad can be above or below.
It should be noted that the ads do not appear to be designed specifically for Bing Chat. They are also found on the first page of search results when using the standard search window. The question is how Bing chooses, because of the twelve results of a test assignment, eight were advertisements on the search page. Of these, only two returned to Bing Chat.
Good to know also: the announcements will come later. The answer appears first, a moment later, the regular source links are clickable, but the preview on hover with ads only appears a few seconds later.
You may even wonder if these are ads in Bing Chat itself. It’s unclear at this time, but it appears companies aren’t charging for ads in Bing Chat separately. They are clearly contextual, but not precisely targeted. Microsoft is just using the preview window partly as an ad space to show ads that are in Bing Search in a different location.
Bing sticks to these ads, Microsoft says in an explanation to Tweakers. “In chat mode, when you see cited sources, those citations will be a mix of algorithm results like you would see in traditional search results and in ad placements. And we’ll add ‘ad’ next to ads Behind the ‘learn more’ experience in conversation mode will not be a revenue model and users will not see advertisements.
These advertisements come from the search engine, but were auctioned live for the mission. “Every time someone searches, Microsoft Advertising runs an ad auction to determine which ads to show and where to place them on the search results page.” Microsoft seems to see a prompt as a search query. This is also visible when Bing shows up to perform a certain search.
Over time, these ads will likely be Chat-specific, but that’s not yet the case. “Initially, advertisers don’t have to do any extra work and their current search campaigns will automatically be extended to this new experience. Longer term, it’s of course always new potential as we innovate to unlock new advertising scenarios and opportunities.”
Challenges of ads in chatbots
Microsoft added ads to the only logical place in the interface: the link preview. Ads are probably not scheduled. After all, it’s hard enough to find the most relevant information on the live web. If Bing had to take ads into account in the generated response, it would probably have made development more complex. Microsoft’s GPT model is called the Prometheus model.
Moreover, a “great language model” is by definition unpredictable software. Bing Chat sometimes gives a completely different answer to the exact same question, a phenomenon that is also seen with ChatGPT and other GPT apps. This is not due to the ads, but the way it generates the response.
This makes it difficult to base contextual or targeted advertising. After all, it’s easy to see if a user is looking for a vacuum cleaner, but it’s hard to tell what Bing will say next. This seems to be why ads are now partly contextual, but partly seem detached from the response.
In addition, trust plays a role. Embedding ads in chatbots at this stage poses a risk of compromise. Bing Chat responses are sometimes bizarre enough without users suspecting a commercial motive. What if there are ads in the answer text?
Bing Chat sometimes says there are indeed ads in the replies, and sometimes the software denies there are. This is typical of chatbot fickleness, where they bravely claim one thing one moment and completely the opposite the next.
In any case, what is clear is that Microsoft wants to monetize advertising in Bing Chat. Like everything in this development, ads are still in their infancy. The question is how Microsoft wants to integrate advertisements into its chatbot. Google has yet to say anything about its Bard chatbot ads.
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