How do you compete with Google search advertising? Billions of people use their search engine and keep coming back day after day.

The closest competitor is BING – Microsoft’s offering – which is a sizable distance behind. Microsoft posted revenues of $3.2bn from search/news advertising in their most recent quarterly results compared to Google’s $42.6bn for search.

While some would give up with such a competitor so far ahead, the prize to capture market share is tempting. According to Microsoft, each percentage point gained represents an extra $2bn in advertising revenue.

So, what can they do? Microsoft is not going to advertise its way to market share. Somehow, it has to build a better product. You would have thought that would have been a tough ask with the resources Google can bring to the table.

Enter the company Open AI.

Open AI was founded in 2015 by a collection of smart people as an independent research organization with a focus on developing the use of artificial intelligence. Back in July 2020, Microsoft and Open AI signed a strategic partnership.

Each provides mutual access to their technology to support their respective growth plans. Microsoft gets to bolt some advanced AI technologies into its tools, and Open AI leverages the sizable tech resources on offer from Microsoft.

All this was looking quite benign. Another large tech company invests in a small start-up with lofty ambitions in Artificial Intelligence. This all changed late last November when Open AI released the product Chat GTP.

You “chatted” with the product, and it “chatted” back with answers across a breadth of knowledge areas with a depth of understanding we had never seen before. Nobody knows how much data Chat GTP has gobbled up to seed its knowledge, but the thinking is around tens of billions of words or more.

The results were crazy, and now there are around 100 million users hanging off the product. People used it to write jokes, develop essays, and generally disrupt our thinking on how knowledge was going to be found and delivered on the Internet.

Launched as a free product, people can now pay to subscribe to Chat GTP Plus for a monthly fee. Unlike its free cousin, you are not blocked when demand climbs, and you have priority access to the latest updates.

About a month ago, a customer asked me how Microsoft would leverage this partnership and whether BING would be altered in some way to support it.

“Nah,” I said. My thinking was it would be quickly bolted into the content creation tools of MS Word while also helping people tackle the complex areas of formulas in MS Excel.

I was wrong.

Recently, Microsoft presented the launch of their new AI-powered version of BING. Now, not only will you receive results down the middle part of the results page, but also to the side, a natural language response to your request is delivered.

And, like all good Ginsu knife promotions, there’s more.

Download their Edge browser, and once you are approved to use the latest offering, things start to get even more interesting.

Apparently, in one demonstration, a Microsoft staffer browsed to a large shopping site using the AI-powered Edge browser. Here they opened a PDF file showing some recent quarterly earnings statement and asked Edge to summarize the key points from the document and create a table comparing this data to a similar financial dump of data from a competing company. The Edge-powered AI did it all in seconds.

Using a search engine that just shows you a flat list of search results sounds quite boring in comparison, doesn’t it?

So, what is Google doing while this story plays out?

Well, they recently launched Bard, their AI product with supposedly similar capability. A few stumbling blocks have arisen on the way, but the race is on, with the giant seemingly following the minnow.

This all bodes well for digital marketers. Having a more credible search engine to compete with Google is only a good thing. We have been advertising on BING for many years now, and I am looking forward to increased traffic volumes as more people head this way to experience the AI version of search.

Now may be the time to revisit your search strategy if you have a single view of the world. Give us a call if you would like to learn more.