Buoyed by the success of Bing Chat, the ChatGPT-assisted version of the Bing search engine, Microsoft is already “exploring” ways to sneak ads into AI-generated responses.
From now on, conversations conducted with Bing Chat will also be interspersed with sponsored responses, labeled as such. For example, a question about a particular car model will be answered with a link to the website providing that information, as well as relevant promotional links:
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
Microsoft confirms the introduction of ads on Bing Chat, but says it’s just experimenting with various promotion formats at the moment: We’re exploring additional capabilities for publishers, including the more than 7,500 Microsoft Start partner brands. We recently met with some of our partners to start exploring ideas and to get feedback on how we can continue to distribute content in a way that is relevant to our partners.
Some of the users who participated in the Bing chat test program claim that the ads have been there since launch, but have only been shown for certain accounts/geographic regions.
At least for now, new ads delivered on Bing Chat cannot be blocked using conventional tools such as Adblock extensions. Moreover, since these are responses put into a particular context by Bing AI, simply masking the links could do more harm than good by stripping the responses received of content. Another “danger” is that Microsoft will teach the Bing AI how to detect the use of Adblock means, instructing it to politely refuse further conversation.
Ultimately, the difference between providing “honest” information and promoting products and services relevant to the topic being sought may be much harder to detect, as the technologies that make Bing Chat-generated responses seem so credible can just as easily be used to sell them ads.