Ads are coming to Bing Chat

We made it nearly two entire months, but Microsoft is now ready to start serving ads in the new Bing Chat. On Wednesday, Microsoft announced that it is “exploring” new ways for publishers to use the platform to generate more traffic. One obvious solution is to place ads into the answers that Bing Chat generates, so don’t be surprised if you start seeing ads.

Microsoft is experimenting with ads in Bing Chat

Microsoft says that it recently met with some of its publishing partners to get feedback about how the search engine can “distribute content in a way that is meaningful in traffic and revenue.” Here are some of the ideas that they came up with:

  • 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. 

It is worth noting that Bing Chat has featured ads from day one. It seems that the rollout has been relatively gradual, though, as many early adopters were unaware of this fact until now. I loaded up the Bing Chat preview and attempted to ask a few questions that should have generated an ad or two, but all that I saw were the citations linking to the chatbot’s sources.

Ads in generative AI will be incredibly difficult to balance, especially if Microsoft, OpenAI, and the other groups in this field expect us to trust the sources behind their AI’s answers. The citation link might be a totally reputable site, but what’s to stop a less reputable source from piggybacking on that link by tossing Microsoft a few dollars for placement?

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