Users who engaged with the new ChatGPT-infused Bing had a wide range of experiences. There are many well-publicized accounts of surprising interactions that we’re not interested in rehashing here (but if you’d like to read them yourself, you can find a few examples on the New York Times and the Associated Press). Suffice it to say that Microsoft still has some kinks to iron out.
While these anecdotes are certainly concerning, there’s also been some positive feedback. Microsoft reports that 71% of the AI-powered answers received a “thumbs up” – presumably from testers using the tool for its intended applications.
As data-driven marketers, we of course wanted to find out for ourselves whether the product release was driving any incremental traffic to Bing.
It’s hard to say. A peek across week-over-week Bing search data at Merkle showed a 3% lift in impressions coupled with a 2% decline in click traffic. Taken at face value, those two data points suggest increased interest in searching on/engaging with Bing without clicking through a search result – something we’d expect to see for folks testing out the new functionality.
However, it’s critical to note that one week of data has too much noise to be considered a trend. Anything from weather fluctuations to events like the Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day could be skewing performance. Additionally, only a small subset of users currently have access to the experience. Only time will tell if Bing is truly attracting more search activity with ChatGPT’s integration and whether it’s temporary curiosity or sustained interest.
Perhaps the more interesting data points, from a search ecosystem perspective, are from Google. Over that same time period, impressions increased 6.2% and clicks grew 9.4% week-over-week for Merkle. While we don’t know for certain what drove more impression volume on Bing, whatever it was did not appear to have a negative impact on Google.
Microsoft has released several product updates based on the feedback received during its opening week, including limits on chat sessions. With the newness and complexity of this product, we expect to see frequent updates over the coming months. As of this week, the experience is also now live on a broader set of platforms, including Bing’s mobile apps and Skype.
Marketers should stay the course with the recommendations we outlined earlier this month. There will be a lot of changes over the coming months – both on the engine side, as Google readies its Bard-powered experience and Microsoft continues to shape its platform, and the user side, as more searchers gain access to the new Bing experience and figure out how it fits into their daily needs.
The best way to stay on top of it all is a total search approach. With monitoring, this means looking holistically at user behavior across organic and paid results to spot shifts. With planning and strategy, it means starting with your users’ needs and figuring out how to best address them across the entire SERP rather than operating in silos. To learn more about how other brands are thinking about total search, check out our on-demand webinar with Calvin Klein.
Keep checking back to stay up-to-date with the latest on generative AI in search. We’ll continue to share what we see in the data as well as recommendations for adapting as new features roll out and user pools expand.