As generative AI becomes a bigger factor in content discovery, there are various questions about how this will impact SEO, as well as publisher revenue, given that fewer people will be tapping through on search results, with AI tools summarizing the information for them instead.
And the answer is, we don’t know – nobody knows, as yet, what the full ramifications of these developments will be, but Microsoft, which is seeing big demand for its new Bing chat experience, is working on a few options, which could at least give publishers some hope that their web traffic won’t be obliterated as a result.
Today, Microsoft has outlined two new projects, tied to its Bing chat process, which will help ensure that publishers still get exposure in generative results, along with potential revenue share plans for partners.
First off, Microsoft’s developing a new UI for Bing chat results, which would display more links from a publisher when a user hovers over a highlighted link.
The idea is that this will maintain exposure for the publisher, while also helping to drive more traffic to publisher websites by showcasing related content.
Microsoft’s also working on a revenue share program, which would filter revenue through to websites that contribute to the Bing chat response.
“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.”
None of these are likely to be as directly beneficial to publishers as the current systems. But they’re a start, which also shows that the platforms themselves are considering these questions, and how they can build more equitable process, while also providing these new chat experiences.
This, at least in part, is why Google wanted to delay the rollout of its own AI tools, till it could work out the full implications of such process. But the popularity of Microsoft’s AI experiences forced its hand – which could actually end up being a net negative for the web ecosystem as a whole, over time.
But we’re here now, and we need to establish the best way forward – which also relates to AI content regulation as well, another point of contention among experts.
But again, the bottom line is that no one knows, for sure, exactly how this is all going to play out as yet.
At the least, these new experiments show that the platforms themselves are developing processes to maintain existing web monetization infrastructure.