Microsoft is reviewing different ways to implement conversational AI within the Microsoft advertising platform, Kya Sainsbury-Carter, corporate vice president of Microsoft advertising, told Greg Finn yesterday at SMX Advanced.
That’s one thing we learned yesterday from the keynote, which explored how conversational AI might radically change search marketing.
From higher CTRs to increased ROIs to conversational AI making an appearance in ads for the first time, Bing Chat has been specifically designed to tackle universal problems experienced with traditional search, according to Sainsbury-Carter.
Here’s a recap of the wide-ranging SMX Advanced keynote interview.
The new Bing, unveiled in February, was designed to succeed where traditional search results can sometimes fail.
Microsoft has worked on solving historic search issues by combining the power of large language models like open AIs with its own search index.
While it may be early days, Microsoft has confirmed that there have already been more than half a billion Bing Chat conversations since its launch, with more than 70% thumbs up for the answers it serves.
In addition, people have created more than 200 million pictures with Bing Image Creator.
Early data indicates great news for advertisers too, as Microsoft’s conversational AI is driving a higher click-through rate than traditional search, which is subsequently leading to increased conversions.
Sainsbury-Carter did not reveal any specific numbers. But she did reveal that increased CTR applies to both search results and ads, which is promising news for search marketers.
In more good news for advertisers: Microsoft is working on more opportunities for advertisers to further boost user engagement, which could again result in an uplift in conversions.
Sainsbury-Carter stressed that the company was committed to investing in integrating chat AI, noting that Bing Chat is “stronger than ever”. She added:
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Microsoft has suggested that advertisers can expect traditional keyword targeting to shift towards a topic-centric approach with conversational AI. Explaining the change, Sainsbury-Carter said:
Sainsbury-Carter explained that Microsoft is taking a new approach when it comes to ads, the user experience and ROI scenarios:
Visual ads are another major newer feature that should be of interest to marketers, according to visual ads.
Microsoft is making visual ads a huge priority and has already been trialing this feature for hotel ads. Next, it’s planning to roll out this experience for travel and real estate verticals.
Although the spotlight is currently on conversational AI, Sainsbury-Carter said this isn’t the end of traditional search:
Bing Chat launched with ads and the plan is to ensure that they remain an integrated part of the chat experience – just as they are with traditional search. However, Microsoft is focusing on improving the ad experience by making sure that ads served are relevant and meet user intent.
Conversational AI is resulting in people running queries 3x the length seen on average in traditional search, meaning that they are giving more details. This extra information is helping bots to better understand user intent and so they are able to serve more detailed responses.
Small local businesses looking to improve their SERP rankings have also been advised to ensure they have Bing maps on their website. “It’s not required for ads,” said Sainsbury-Carter. “But it does help!”
Microsoft has introduced a chat API, which is going to be made available to news publishers that want to implement chatbot technology in their websites.
Whether publishers source their AI chat experiences from Microsoft or not, Microsoft Advertising can help them to monetize their services by serving relevant ads designed specifically for the chat experience.
Sainsbury-Carter acknowledged that safety and privacy concerns have been a huge talking point for search marketers. She stressed that addressing these issues has been a priority for Microsoft.
She pointed out that Bing Chat has been designed in partnership with AI experts and is in line with Microsoft’s Responsible AI Principles.
Microsoft has taken many steps to prevent the abuse of its technology, such as limiting the number of sequential chats per session and limiting the total number of chats per day.
However, while Bing Chat has been developed to Microsoft’s highest standards, Carter admitted that they are expecting teething issues.
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