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Emerging Trends in AI Search


Exacta Media

Insights from the EXACTA Media team

Artificial intelligence (AI) is affecting numerous industries. From AI-assisted medical devices in healthcare to virtual assistants and beyond, AI is changing how we interact with technology. Marketing is having its own AI boom, including new tools in search.

We’ve discussed the future of Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) before. There have since been some new developments, so we thought we’d revisit this evolving topic.

Image credit: Google

SGE update
As a quick recap, SGE was announced by Google in May of 2023 and is Google’s strategy for shifting search into a more interactive and immersive experience. The AI-powered search delivers dynamic and real-time content, along with personalized and contextualized search results. SGE is still in the testing phase and Google has since signed a content licensing agreement with Reddit.

Search Engine Land explains that Google will pay Reddit $60 million per year to help train its AI models, and Reddit stated that it has plans to use AI to improve its ad business. Some think that the number of Reddit urls that are being served in top results is a bit suspect, especially now that this deal has gone public. It’s only speculation, but SEO columnist Glenn Gabe pointed out on X that Reddit urls ranking in the top 100 jumped from 22M to 41.1M in a matter of months.

We’ll keep an eye on SGE and look for announcements from Google on when an official launch will take place.

OpenAI entering the fray
The AI company behind ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Bing enhancements has announced that it will also develop a web search product. As of now it’s unclear if OpenAI’s search will be integrated into ChatGPT or will be an entirely stand-alone offering. Additionally, while it seems like the product will rely on its already established relationship with Bing, nothing concrete has been provided.

This is interesting as Microsoft made it clear that it was going to use OpenAI’s technology to make a play for Google’s share of search. With OpenAI announcing their own web search product, marketers will have to see how it integrates with Bing or if there will be another search engine/search platform in the mix.

Perplexity is a strong entry
In an article for The New York Times, search newcomer Perplexity impresses technology columnist Kevin Roose with the AI-search experience it provides. Roose points to the summary with backlinks to sources as particularly impressive. He also appreciates that Perplexity will ask clarifying questions before providing an answer and admit when the served response is nuanced or unclear. Roose provides many samples of the interface. Here’s an example of his search for the best dog food:

What should marketers do to prepare?
As you might imagine, AI-powered search will completely change the online landscape for marketers. As Roose notes, AI results which are essentially recaps and a collection of information, will no doubt affect the number of people clicking through to publisher sites. If a summary answer is easily generated, there’s no reason to click through any links. Brands will need to develop strategies to ensure that users click through to the desired content.

Forbes councils member and technology CEO Akram Atallah writes that marketers need to start preparing now for the changes coming. Finding an online digital identity for your brand will be imperative in distinguishing your company from competitors. He then advises to include the human touch, providing content that is authentic, creates emotional resonance and cultivates a personal connection with your audience. Gaining those clicks will become less about generic answers and information, and more about storytelling, interactive elements and the human connection to your brand.

In an AI boom, we still need the power of human intelligence. Not only for content creation, but for data and strategy assessment. While AI is excellent at some tasks, it cannot replace the critical contributions of the human mind.

Still in development
SGE and OpenAI are currently in the testing phase, and Perplexity is small but mighty. Changes can happen quickly in technology, so brands would be advised to start planning a strategy now for attracting and engaging audiences through AI-powered search. Google has a gargantuan following already, and it’s easy to see how SGE could dominate AI-powered search once completely rolled out. However, it’s possible that OpenAI, Bing and Perplexity could give Google a run for its money, gaining valuable share of search.

We’ll be following developments in AI-powered search as they are announced and look forward to helping our clients navigate this new era in search.

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